TEXAS SPACE GRANT CONSORTIUM
ABOUT TSGCHIGHER EDUCATION FACULTYHIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTSK-12 EDUCATION
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About TSGC

MISSION STATEMENT

15th YEAR REPORT

10th YEAR REPORT

1: National Space Grant College & Fellowship Program Objectives

2: Texas Space Grant

3: Organization

4: Higher Education Programs

5: Outreach/Public Service Programs

6: Research Programs

7: Weaknesses and Solutions

8: Closing Remarks/Fact Sheet

10th Year Report

4. HIGHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS

The goals of the TSGC Higher Education programs are to foster development and sharing of space related educational resources and experiences among consortium members in Texas and nationwide and to foster high quality graduate level space research at consortium academic institutions.

Since 1994 TSGC has conducted 326 Higher Education activities involving over three thousand undergraduate and graduate students.

 

National Education Priorities  
# Cntrb.
Sec.
Provide fellowships and scholarships emphasizing student research and mentoring components.  
196
4.2, 4.3, 4.4
Stress development of interdisciplinary courses and curriculum.  
95
4.1, 4.2, 4.5
Enhance pre-service teacher education emphasizing coordination with existing efforts  
19
4.4, 4.7
Develop community college initiatives.  
6
4.6
Focus on involving underrepresented groups including women and people with disabilities.   162 4.2, 4.3, 4.5
Develop courses that use emerging NASA-developed technology.   123 4.1, 4.2, 4.3

 

For most of these students this was the first exposure that they had to space related concepts in the classroom. Many have gone on to receive graduate degrees in space related fields. A total of $5.9M of direct and in-kind support was devoted to these activities. Greater than 93% of these funds were provided by outside sources with less than 7% provided by TSGC.

 


4.1	NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program

This program provides a unique academic experience for undergraduate students to successfully propose, design, fabricate, fly and assess a reduced-gravity experiment of their own design during an eight month academic/flight experience. That experience includes scientific scholarship, hands-on test operations and education/public outreach activities.

The JSC's Reduced-Gravity Program provides a true three-dimensional "weightless" training and testing environment. Originally the province of astronauts in training and flights in support of missions ranging from Mercury to the Space Station, NASA's Boeing KC-135A has recently provided other NASA, government, academic and commercial users with a reduced-g experiment venue.

 

An undergraduate student from Texas A&M University operating her team's experiment on NASA's KC-135A in microgravity.

Figure 1:
An undergraduate student from Texas A&M University operating her team's experiment on NASA's KC-135A in microgravity.

The program is designed to encourage teams to participate either as an organized class project or as an independent study project. It is highly recommend that the participating team's academic institution convey class credit for the successful completion of the program. Each selected team usually includes up to four undergraduate students, a supervising faculty member, and one professional journalist. At least two students from each team will be able to fly on the KC-135 aircraft.

This program began in 1995 as the Texas Space Grant Consortium Students Understanding Reduced-Gravity Flight (SURF) Summer Academy. In five short years the program has grown from flying four Texas-only student teams to flying over one hundred teams of high school and undergraduate students.

 


4.2	TSGC Advanced Design Project

The objectives of the TSGC Advanced Design Project (TADP) are: to improve design education at participating institutions; to excite students about design by using space design topics; to provide modest funding to support design education at participating schools; and to provide NASA with a stream of new and innovative ideas.

In Spring 1995, TSGC initiated this program modeled after the recently canceled NASA/USRA Advanced Design Program. The TADP is a multi-university, multi-disciplinary, design project in which students from various institutions cooperate to produce a space related design. Led by the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, the program involves universities with extensive design programs and vast experiences in spacecraft design to universities with no prior experience in spacecraft design. Twenty-five percent of the universities involved are federally designated minority institutions.

Each year, approximately fifty undergraduate students participate in the program. These students form into design teams with a student leader and a local faculty advisor. Each team works on related design projects. This necessitates and provides opportunities to cooperate. Each student team is expected to send one or more representatives to end-of-the-semester design meetings to present their work to the other attendees and to representatives of NASA and industry. Coordination of the various teams is accomplished by graduate students from The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. The program's yearly budget of $50K serves to stimulate over $450K of in-kind support from the students, faculty, and the local space industry.

Past Project Foci:

  • Lunar Oxygen Verification Experiment (L.O.V.E.): a technology demonstration spacecraft that extracts Oxygen from the lunar regolith
  • Power From Space: research of possible solutions to the world's power requirements for next century
  • Various projects supporting the exploration of Mars

 


4.3	Fellowship and Scholarship Program

TSGC's graduate student fellowships and undergraduate student scholarships are designed to recognize high-quality students at TSGC institutions and encourage their further pursuit of space-related careers. Since 1994 TSGC has awarded over $720,000 in fellowships and scholarships. Students receiving these awards perform research in space-related topics. Their disciplines range from Aerospace Engineering to Neuroscience to Biomedical Engineering.

The TSGC and member institutions have been successful in achieving ethnic diversity and involving underrepresented groups in educational, research and outreach programs. The success of the TSGC program has continued despite limitations imposed through the recent Hopwood vs. The State of Texas decision that limited consideration of ethnic background and underrepresentation in the evaluation of student packages for admission, scholarships, and fellowships. Since 1995 30% of TSGC's Fellowship and Scholarship awards have been to minorities. This closely matches the 31% minority enrollment in universities in the state of Texas.


Graduate Fellowship Implementation

TSGC awards a $5,000 Fellowship to supplement a half-time equivalent appointment at his/her home institution. Each fall TSGC announces and distributes the Fellowship program for the following academic year. Graduate students can either receive an application from their university representative or download it from the TSGC web site. Applications are submitted to the university representative who is responsible for the initial pre-selection process. Each university may submit up to three applicants to a consortium-wide selection committee. The selection committee is made up of faculty from the Academic Affiliates, excluding the Space Grant Colleges. The effectiveness of the Fellowship program is continually evaluated and modified at the semi-annual consortium meetings. For example, a recent modification is allowing institutions to utilize a Fellowship to aid in recruiting top students into their space-related graduate programs.


Undergraduate Scholarship Implementation

TSGC awards a $1,000 Scholarship to encourage students at each of its Academic Institutions to pursue graduate studies in space related subjects. Each fall TSGC announces and distributes the Undergraduate Scholarship program for the following year. Undergraduate students can either receive an application from their university representative or download it from the TSGC web site. Applications are submitted to the university representative who is responsible for the entire selection process. Each representative then notifies the TSGC Program Office of its selection and details their local selection process.

 


4.4	TOPEX/POSEIDION

This program focuses on the development of meaningful and useful learning materials for non-technical audiences based on the TOPEX/POSEIDON (T/P) spacecraft mission. It promotes direct involvement by university students in T/P research and helps to increase the public awareness and support of the Mission to Planet Earth. The program also provides pre-service and in-service K-12 teachers with T/P-based materials tied to their basic teaching goals that will assist them in generating enthusiasm in their students about science, mathematics, and engineering.

One aspect of this program was to design a shallow water buoy-type instrumentation platform that carries satellite ranging equipment in order to better understand the bays in the Gulf of Mexico and the oceans. Teams of undergraduate and high school students received scholarships to design, fabricate, and test a buoy capable of supporting and protecting a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver antenna and measuring other ocean properties which are used to calibrate the T/P satellite. They also had the opportunity to work side by side with scientists from the University of Texas Center for Space Research. In the words of one T/P participant:

“This is what I want to do later on in my life. Today, I'm getting a head start on learning how to use the equipment and what it is all about.”

Undergraduate students from the University of Texas and the University of Colorado Boulder and High School students from the Galveston area testing their designs for the T/P Calibration Experiment in the Gulf of Mexico.

Figure 2:
Undergraduate students from the University of Texas and the University of Colorado Boulder and High School students from the Galveston area testing their designs for the T/P Calibration Experiment in the Gulf of Mexico.

Another aspect of the program is pre-service and in-service K-12 teacher workshops that provide space-related education. TSGC has conducted many workshops with the theme "T/P Education and Classroom Activities". Each workshop is structured to meet the needs of its participants while maintaining common elements. At each workshop TSGC distributes over 1,000 pages of T/P and other space-related information, classroom-tested activities, posters, CD ROMs, reproducible lectures, and many other items.

 


4.5	Careers in Engineering for Women

The goal of these summer workshops is to strengthen the interest of 7th and 8th grade girls and their teachers in engineering fields. Each summer 48 girls and 16 teachers attend this program conducted by the Women in Engineering Program at The University of Texas at Austin. TSGC sponsors a session for the girls on what it is like to have a career in engineering. TSGC also sponsors sessions for the teachers on space flight and satellite applications.

 


4.6	Community College Task Force

In an effort to improve space-related educational programs in two-year institutions in the state of Texas, TSGC has established an ongoing task force to address the following opportunities and issues:

  • 82 Community College Systems in the state
  • 450,000 community college students
  • the current low level of funding per member institution
  • how to include community colleges without diluting funding
  • how to have a very low cost meaningful program at community colleges

This task force was initiated in 1992 and originally came to the conclusion that individual TSGC member institutions would involve Community Colleges when and if good opportunities arose. In 1998 this task force was charged with reevaluating its original position and will report to the BOD in the spring and fall of 1999.

 


4.7	Shuttle Photo Essays

The goal of this project is to develop meaningful earth science presentations based on handheld photographs taken from the space shuttle by astronauts. These "photo essays" will be evaluated, edited, and integrated into pre-service K-12 teacher classrooms. The final product will be posted on TSGC's web site.

Another aspect of this program was for undergraduate students to develop conceptual designs of systems to produce Earth imagery from the Space Station nadir pointing window.

 

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