Rocket Scientists Ignite Students’ Imagination About Careers in Engineering

Watch the Movie: Designing and Engineering Rockets

Burbank, CA May 11, 2009 — In Huntsville, Alabama, teams of engineers are building a 325-foot, two-million pound rocket that will go from 0 to 1,000 miles per hour in less than 60 seconds. Those engineers are also igniting the imaginations of thousands of math and science students about career opportunities most never knew existed.

This week, The Futures Channel released “Designing and Engineering Rockets,” its third documentary video in a series that takes viewers inside NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to meet the people who are building the new Ares Launch Vehicles that will take the United States back to the moon and beyond.

“Wow! This new series is very exciting,” says Lydia Bosquez, a mathematics teacher in San Antonio, Texas. “It is a great way to get my students to think outside the box about possible careers and the relevance of math.”

The Ares video series has proven to be popular among The Future Channel’s audience of math and science teachers and students. In recent weeks, the first two Ares movies have been screened in over 4,000 classrooms.

Per its mission statement, The Futures Channel was founded in 1999 with the goal of “using new media technologies to create a channel between the scientists, engineers, explorers and visionaries who are shaping the future, and today’s learners who will one day succeed them.”

The latest movie focuses on the work of system engineers. “My job is a system engineer,” says Don Krupp, the Chief of Vehicle Analysis for the Ares Projects, “That basically means that I’m responsible for making sure that this extremely complex launch vehicle all works together.” In the video, he shows students the work he and his team are doing, including how they combine computer-modeled parts to create a virtual rocket.

“Surveys by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and others indicate kids and adults have a relatively limited understanding of what engineering is and what engineers do,” said Greg Pearson, Senior Program Officer at the NAE. “By showing how engineers work in teams to solve complex problems, this video provides a realistic view of engineering work. The video’s focus on the construction of physical models, one of the tools used by engineers to envision possible solutions, enriches the portrayal of the engineering design process.”

“This is a great program to show my students,” said Mary Bucklew, a science teacher in Lehi, Utah. “They are the scientists and engineers of the future. They just need to know what is out there!”

Support for the Ares video series has come from The Boeing Company and ATK Space Systems. Both companies are working with NASA to design, build and test the new rockets.

Bruce Wilcox is a 20-year pioneer in the development and implementation of instructional technology programs in the K-12 and post secondary sectors. He is currently K-12 Strategist for SMARTHINKING, the leading provider of online tutoring:

“Our K-12 school systems are being pushed to emphasize the development of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics skills in our students. The Futures Channel expands traditional classroom boundaries by providing teachers an effective means to link classroom instruction in the STEM areas to real world occupations that are engaging and fun for student and educator alike.”

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