19:00 PM

Congresswoman Donna Edwards visits USRA

On Thursday, November 12, 2015, Congresswoman Donna Edwards visited USRA 's new headquarters in Columbia, Maryland, meeting high school students who demonstrated their robotics projects, and discussing with students from Morgan State University their research in Earth science carried out at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Congresswoman talked with three high school teams about their studies and robotics projects, then accepted an invitation from one team to operate a large catapult-inspired robot, going hands-on at the controls. Another robotics team presented their work on the " Go Baby Go " project, which modifies toy ride-on cars to encourage mobility and sociability in children with disabilities. The Congresswoman described the students' work on the Go Baby Go robotics project as "touching and powerful." Go Baby Go is a collaboration between the University of Delaware and the robotics teams.

USRA built the 25,000 square-foot STEM Education Center at its new headquarters to provide a dedicated place for students to carry out their robotic work and study. It is a first step to USRA's commitment to help students interested in STEM fields to be career and college-ready. USRA teamed up with STEMaction and MarylandFirst to support STEM educational activities in the Baltimore and Washington Region. NASA personnel are also volunteering time and resources to help outfit the space.

Congresswoman Edwards also talked one-on-one with students from Morgan State University about their Earth science research at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center under USRA sponsorship. During the summer, 23 Morgan State students worked with scientific mentors at Goddard. To date, over 200 Morgan State students have been engaged through the USRA-Morgan State collaboration. The internship program and graduate student support has been enabled though cost-sharing by USRA since 2011, with USRA providing over $1 million dollars in stipends to Morgan State students. The internship program complements the Goddard Earth Sciences Technology and Research (GESTAR) program, a collaboration funded by NASA that is focused on the study of the Earth system-the atmosphere, the biosphere, the oceans, and solid Earth. USRA leads the team operating GESTAR for NASA. Morgan State is a partner with USRA.

Edwards at the controls

Image: Congresswoman Donna Edwards is invited by students from Atholton High School to take the controls of the robot.

Go Baby Go

Image: Students from the Horizons 4-H Club in Ellicott City discuss the "Go Baby Go" project with Congresswoman Donna Edwards in the USRA STEM Education Center. The project retrofits electric-powered toy cars for use by disabled children.

Robotics Demonstration

Image: Congresswoman Donna Edwards participates in the robotics demonstration at USRA's new STEM Education Center as USRA President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Jeffrey A. Isaacson looks on.

MSU Poster Session

Image: Morgan State student Cherif Haidara explains his research to Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Morgan State President David Wilson at USRA's Learning Center.

(Image credits: Mark Finkenstaedt)

About USRA

Founded in 1969, USRA is an independent research corporation with competencies that span space, Earth, and life sciences related disciplines, which are closely aligned with the nation's science and national security agencies. As a non-profit corporation with 105 major research university members, USRA's scientific and technical staff collaborates with over 400 universities annually. This depth of reach into the research community provides a unique platform for advancing science and technology and operations that depend on them.

About STEMaction

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.

Morgan State University

MSU, founded in 1867, is one of the nation's premier Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The University offers a comprehensive program of studies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Designated as Maryland's Public Urban University, MSU accounts for large percentages of degrees received by African-Americans from Maryland institutions. At the graduate level, it awards doctoral and master's degrees in several selected fields. The University has made a major commitment to academic excellence, investing substantial resources to enhance its research infrastructure, and stimulate research development in a broad range of disciplines, especially STEM. In addition to the Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. School of Engineering complex, MSU has the Estuarine Research Center, the Richard N. Dixon Science Research Center, a state-of-the-art research facility that provides space for specialized research laboratories in physics, chemistry, and biology, and the modern Murphy Fine Arts Center.