(WEST LAFAYETTE) – The Indiana Space Grant Consortium, headquartered at Purdue University, has received a $2.8 million grant from NASA to support student and faculty learning projects. The consortium helps launch interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines for elementary students to graduate students.
Hosted at Purdue since 1991, the consortium is part of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, a national network funded by NASA to inspire interest in STEM programs and build a diverse STEM workforce.
The grant provides $2.8 million through 2024 to support NASA student internships and fellowships, student STEM experiences, faculty STEM projects and public STEM engagement throughout Indiana.
“Despite the pandemic, we are continuing to support virtual student internships and programs,” said Barrett Caldwell, director of the consortium and professor of industrial engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering. “We have worked hard this summer to help shift students to virtual opportunities, including computation projects, computer modeling and data analysis. NASA looks at its internship and co-op programs as the primary pools from which to hire new staff members.”
Caldwell said most of the money is going toward research grants and workforce development opportunities for university students across Indiana.
“NASA has a priority in Indiana and across all states to help develop a strong and diverse workforce,” Caldwell said. “NASA provides a research enterprise that goes well beyond space. The work being done impacts issues in Indiana such as remote sensing, soil moisture and drug delivery.
“I have an intimate knowledge of the impact of these early research experiences because I worked with NASA as a student. It was incredible for me as a student of color to present my findings to NASA engineers and scientists. I do not think I would be where I am today without those opportunities.”
Caldwell said Indiana also will be in the spotlight in April 2024 during a total solar eclipse. Indianapolis and many other parts of the state will be in the path of totality. Caldwell said this means a likely huge economic boost for the state, ranging in the tens of millions of dollars as visitors travel globally to take part in eclipse activities.
Caldwell will receive Purdue’s Seed for Success Award for his work in obtaining the NASA grant. The award recognizes the accomplishments of investigators for their efforts in obtaining a $1 million or more external sponsored award. The award is administered by the Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships.
Caldwell has been recognized by the Purdue Research Foundation and its Office of Technology Commercialization for his work as an innovator and his dedication to help others through the commercialization and application of his innovations.
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