Funding from DoD for STEM education

10/14/2020 Debra Levey Larson

Written by Debra Levey Larson

With the 2017 National Security Strategy designating space as a vital interest and the creation of the U.S. Space Force in 2019, while at the same time experienced engineers are retiring, a skilled aerospace workforce is needed to move up the ranks more than ever. To address that need, the Department of Defense National Defense Education Program announced week it is awarding $31 million in funding. With 182 applicants, a team from the Illinois Space Grant Consortium at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign received one of the 12 funded projects.
Joshua Rovey
Joshua Rovey
“Our project focuses on increasing the number of students and education of students pursuing careers in space. This is of dire importance because DoD needs a pipeline of highly trained highly skilled scientists and engineers in areas relevant to space, but there is a dearth in this work force,” said Joshua Rovey, associate professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in The Grainger College of Engineering at the U of  who leads ISGC.

The project entitled, “Expanding the Pipeline and Enhancing Education of Students Pursuing Careers in Space” will receive $3 million over three years to develop web-based Massive Open Online Courses, hands-on kits, and a new vertically landed rocket student design challenge similar to SpaceX. 

“The students and general public the Illinois Space Grant Consortium serves across the state will be the first to try the new educational content and provide feedback,” Rovey said.

Collaborators on the project include: Jeffrey Sabby and Michael Denn at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, John Shelton at Northern Illinois University, Michael Lembeck from the UIUC, and Luisa Maria Rosu from I-STEM CITL.

Also involved in the project are:, UIExtension (4-H), the Office of Minority Student Affairs at the U of I, community colleges, and two DoD bases in Illinois, namely Rock Island Arsenal and Scott AFB.

Visit the DoD website to see the complete list of funded projects.

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This story was published October 14, 2020.