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01:00 AM

USRA STEM Education Center in Columbia Officially Dedicated: NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman and Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman Help Cut the Ribbon

The Universities Space Research Association has officially opened its 18,000 square-foot STEM Education Center at its headquarters in Columbia, Maryland. The center will provide a dedicated place for high school and middle school robotics teams to test their robots and practice for regional and national competitions.

Ribbon cutting

Image: The ribbon, being held by robots, is cut by (left to right) Howard County Economic Development Authority CEO, Lawrence Twele, STEMaction, Inc. Executive Director, Bill Duncan, USRA President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Jeffrey A. Isaacson, NASA Deputy Administrator, Dr. Dava Newman, and County Executive for Howard County, Allan Kittleman.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Dr. Jeffrey A. Isaacson, USRA President and Chief Executive Officer described the event as a "big day" for USRA and a first step in USRA's broader STEM Education Initiative.

Organized Kaos Team

Image: The Organized Kaos Team (First Lego League #5709) from Rockville, Maryland demonstrate their robots.

NASA Deputy Administrator, Dr. Dava Newman, attended the ceremony.

"We need STEM Education, that's a really high priority for us. I call it STEAMD, [science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics, and design]" said Newman. "If you love to design and build, and move that robot around and compete...that's called an engineer."

NASA Deputy Administration Newman speaks with students

Image: NASA Deputy Administration Newman speaks with students on a robotics team from Atholton High School.

STEMaction, Inc. Executive Director Bill Duncan, Howard County Economic Development Authority CEO, Lawrence Twele, and County Executive for Howard County, Allan Kittleman also attended.

Duncan said, "We think we are probably one of the first centers/physical locations in the country that we know of that has full practice fields and facilities for all four of the FIRST programs."

Robots assisted by holding the ribbon as the place was officially dedicated. The event concluded with robotics demonstrations from local middle school and high school robotics teams.

USRA is collaborating with STEMaction, Inc. and Maryland FIRST to support K-12 STEM educational activities. STEMaction, Inc. is a Maryland-based nonprofit established in 2012 to help support the FIRST Robotics community and other STEM activities in Maryland. The NASA Robotics Alliance Project also loaned USRA a large robotics practice field for use by the students.

The collaboration with STEMaction, Inc. is the first partnership which USRA is undertaking as part of a broader USRA K-12 STEM Education Initiative. As the STEM Education Center grows, USRA is working to establish other partnerships in STEM workforce development, regionally and nationally.

About USRA

Universities Space Research Association is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology. USRA works across disciplines including biomedicine, planetary science, astrophysics, and engineering and integrates those competencies into applications ranging from fundamental research to facility management and operations. USRA engages the creativity and authoritative expertise of the research community to develop and deliver sophisticated, forward-looking solutions to Federal agencies and other government sponsors.

About STEMaction, Inc.

STEMaction is a Maryland-based non-profit established in 2012 to help support the FIRST community and other great STEM activities in Maryland. They enjoy support from local sponsors including Rockwell Collins, Booz Allen Hamilton, Northrop Grumman, UPS and Microsoft.