Space Dragons

July 29, 2010 marked the completion of a space odyssey for MLWGS students and an alumnus. Pictured from left to right are Jerry Carlson (’09, now at Carnegie-Mellon), Anthony Hennig (’11), Simon Hwang (’11) and Sam Meredith (’11) at NASA’s Langley Research Center where they completed the onsite Summer Academy of the Virginia Aerospace Science and Technology Scholars (VASTS) program (and received 4 college credits). The program first involved a semester of online coursework, designed by the Johnson Space Center, which examined the political, economic, scientific and engineering factors that have contributed to manned space flight. Next, the participants spent a week on the campus of the NASA Langley Research Center, where they collaborated in teams to design and present a mission to Mars. During the Academy, the students received hands-on coaching from NASA staff researchers and engineers, as well as from astronaut Barbara Morgan, a veteran of several shuttle missions. Both Anthony and Sam were speakers at the closing ceremony, officiated by Lesa Roe (Director of NASA Langley Research Center), Hon. John Miller (Virginia State Senator), and John Schumacher (Vice President, Aerojet). The intensity of this real-world simulation was regarded as a “life changing experience” by many of the 144 attendees from all over the commonwealth. The VASTS program, now in its third year, is open to Virginia high school juniors.