Why space science ?-
The dream of exploring outer space is nature's gift to humanity. Beyond cultures, and language barriers people the beauty and complexity of the skies above them inspire you and old. Before the advent of telescopes thinkers documented the motion of stars and planets, the sun, the moon and the Earth. It is the discovery of Keppler's laws followed by Newton's law of Universal gravitation that led to everything we know about space travel today. Space travel and exploration inspires people to think beyond their immediate locality. They travel through space using their own imagination as their vehicle, always asking the most fundamental question of humanity, "are we alone?" Writers and storytellers capture this imagination in science fictions. This imagination and the desire for knowledge about outer space have been pushing the leading edge discovery in many areas of science.
Within the science and engineering (S&E) workforce, the over-60 population outnumbers the under-30 population by nearly 3 to 1, and 25 percent of that workforce will be eligible to retire within 5 years. The potential departure of these individuals could deprive NASA of a wealth of knowledge, experience, and leadership essential to achieving the AgencyÕs goals and objectives." The document further states that, "As a world-class science and engineering agency, NASA must be able to recruit and retain top-quality scientists and engineers to accomplish its core work and remain world-class. The Agency also must have a highly competent staff to support its technical programs and address its financial, acquisition, and business management responsibilities."
The report identifies several factors contributing to shortage of workforce. These include the shrinking science and engineering pipeline, the increased competition for technical skills in todayÕs market, the perception among many engineering students that the aerospace industry is no longer a "career of choice," and an overall declining interest in government employment among many graduates.
T he NASA competencies that are identified to be at risk include systems engineering, integration engineering, test engineering, mission assurance, mission execution, design and development engineering, program/project management, budgeting management, business IT systems and business management. Recently NASA provided funding to manage a "Science and Technology Scholarship" program to train 250 students in STEM fields within 30 months. These students will be required to sign a binding legal agreement to work for NASA after completion of their studies. The shortage of highly trained workforce at NASA may imply that the same problem exists in other agencies. A lasting solution to this problem is to develop an interdisciplinary, and inspiring space science and technology curriculum. Such curriculum can be used as a vehicle to enhance existing courses with space science content, to recruit highly competent students to join NASA internships and to work with K-12 partners to inspire the next generation university students using NASA resources. Since our major goal is to generate a seamless a pipe line that carries students from physics and related sciences directly to graduate programs and to high tech and high paying positions, our space science curriculum allows students to access introductory and advanced courses in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Earth System Science. It is a template curriculum that it can be used by Agriculture, Engineering and Technology departments to develop their own concentrations in space technology specific to their interests. The design of the curriculum is such that students may take the option of going into specialization tracks related to Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, and Earth System Science programs within the University.
Updated: Mar 15, 2007