Sandra Nagy
Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Terri Pyer
Hartnell College, Salinas, Calif.

May 19, 2011
RELEASE : 11-031
NASA and Hartnell College to hold Ribbon Cutting for Education Site in California
CLEVELAND -- Students in grades K-12 in the Salinas, Calif. area will soon be able to explore the world of math and science in a fun, inspiring and innovative way that will help them prepare for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, in partnership with Hartnell College in Salinas, will dedicate a new Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SEMAA) site at the college on Saturday, May 21.

Among the dignitaries present at the ceremony will be Dr. Phoebe Helm, president of Hartnell College and Dennis Donohue, mayor of the City of Salinas. Representing NASA Glenn will be Dovie Lacy, education director and Darlene Walker, SEMAA project manager. Representing Paragon TEC, Inc. will be Gail Dolman-Smith, president and CEO, and Jomill Wiley, director of the National SEMAA Office.

Former NASA astronaut Daniel W. Bursch will share highlights about his experiences as an astronaut, engineer and captain of the United States Navy. Bursch is a veteran of four space flights and has logged more than 227 days in space. He was a mission specialist on STS-51 in 1993, STS-68 in 1994, STS-77 in 1996, and served as flight engineer on the International Space Station Expedition Four from 2001 to 2002.

"NASA is committed to partnering with institutions such as Hartnell College in creating an environment that inspires a diverse student population to pursue careers in STEM-related fields, "said Lacy. "NASA's SEMAA project successfully connects students to the resources of NASA and host institutions in order to assist in closing the global achievement gap for underserved and underrepresented K-12 youth in STEM."

SEMAA is an innovative, national project designed to increase participation and retention of underrepresented youth in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program features an Aerospace Education Laboratory (AEL), which is a state-of-the-art, electronically enhanced computerized classroom.

"This is a significant opportunity for all of the families in our district," said Dr. Helm. "Many recent Hartnell graduates launched their research careers with the help of NASA internships, and now younger students and their families can be inspired and engaged in math, science, and technology by learning in this very special academy, the only SEMAA site currently on the West Coast."

The AEL puts cutting-edge technology at the fingertips of NASA SEMAA middle and high school students. Each of the ten computerized research stations will provide students with real world challenges relative to both aeronautics and microgravity scenarios. The AEL at Hartnell College is part of a nationwide network of similar programs cosponsored by NASA that were built and equipped with a combination of local and NASA funds. Each AEL is valued at $220,000.

Established in 1993, SEMAA was a vision of former Congressman Louis Stokes of Cleveland. Beginning as a joint venture between Glenn and Cuyahoga Community College, the project has grown from a single site to 16 sites in 15 states across the country and has reached more than 630,000 students, parents/caregivers, and educators. The program continues its work to engage, educate and inspire the next generation of explorers.

The NASA SEMAA project is managed by the Educational Programs Office at Glenn, with contractor support provided by Paragon TEC, Inc.

Note to EDITORS and NEWS DIRECTORS: Media are invited to preview the site's Aerospace Education Laboratory at 11:15 a.m. The ribbon cutting will be at noon, with an open house for the public immediately following. The ceremony will be held at the college's Alisal Campus, 1752 E. Alisal Street, Salinas, Calif.

For more information about SEMAA, visit:

For more information about NASA's education programs, visit:

For more information about Glenn Research Center, visit:

For more information on Bursch, visit:


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