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NASA awards Drake State nearly $1.2M for STEM workforce development and outreach

Drake State Community & Technical College has been awarded nearly $1.2 million from NASA to grow its Frontiers Research Program and conduct STEM outreach. The investment will build upon the already-strong position the community college holds in supporting space-related workforce development initiatives.

The school is one of six colleges and universities to be awarded NASA’s Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) award. INCLUDES awards are made possible through NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP).

The release says Drake State’s winning proposal builds on the work currently being done by the college’s Frontiers Research Program, which was established in 2020 to support research in additive manufacturing and 3D printing for NASA’s Moon to Mars Planetary Autonomous Construction Technology Project (MMPACT).

Drake State President Dr. Patricia Sims applauded the award.

“With the significant funding provided by the INCLUDES award Drake State will be able to rapidly grow our research program, the related curriculum development and STEM outreach to middle and high school students,” said Drake State president Dr. Patricia Sims. “It’s rewarding that our focus on meeting workforce needs in aerospace and advanced manufacturing is recognized and valued by NASA.”

In addition to supporting NASA’s MMPACT project, the work being done by Drake State’s Frontiers Research team is expected to lead to innovation and curriculum development that will benefit construction and advanced manufacturing industries in North Alabama and beyond. The Frontiers team consists of faculty and student interns from the college’s Engineering Design program.

Sims expressed her appreciation to the school’s partners for their willingness to invest in tomorrow’s workforce.

“The Frontiers program and other partnerships with local and regional industries create unique and rewarding opportunities for our students,” said Sims. “We’re grateful that our industry partners like NASA and Jacobs as well as our local and state leaders understand the importance of investing in our college and our students.”

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL

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