(STEM News is provided on Local Tech Wire through a collaborative effort with the NC STEM Community Collaborative, MCNC, and the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Center (SMT Center). To submit story ideas, please email LTW Editor Rick Smith rsmith@wral.com or Noah Garrett noah@thinkngc.com.)

Local Tech Wire

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Select teachers will spend a part of their summer learning about virtual technology in an effort to get students excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

A pilot summer internship program called Simulation-Based Aerospace Engineering Teacher Professional Development will give 16 middle and high school teachers from across the United States a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience with NASA’s latest aerospace engineering technologies while working closely with NASA technical mentors.

will manage the project for .

Simulation-based aerospace engineering relies on computer models and simulations of aerospace structures, materials, atmospheric flight conditions and system operations to design improvements for the next generation of flight vehicles and systems, like the air transportation system.

Sharon Welch, new business lead for education at NASA Langley, said most of today’s scientific discoveries and engineering innovations are enabled through computer modeling and simulation.

"In providing these highly-qualified educators with access to the latest methods and technologies, we are hopeful they will be even better prepared to develop the next generation of American scientists and engineers,” Welch added. “Innovation is the currency for competitive advantage in today’s global economy."

Half of the teachers will intern at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., and the other half will intern at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Each of these centers employs extensive modeling and simulation tools to perform their research and technology development activities.

The two-week internship is from July 19 through July 30.

At NASA Langley, one mentor will demonstrate simulation software that features a model of a wind tunnel.

"Engineers use the computer model in concert with the actual wind tunnel to improve the results and testing in the tunnel," Welch explained.

Teachers also will tour NASA facilities, participate in NASA’s Digital Learning Network, attend speaking engagements, develop lesson plans, and shadow mentors.

After their internships, the teachers will be charged with implementing the new lesson plans and disseminating them to other teachers in their school districts in an effort to get students interested in aerospace engineering and computer simulation early in their education.

The is sponsoring the program through NASA’s Langley and Ames Research Centers.

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