HUNTSVILLE — The U.S. Space & Rocket Center, a global leader in STEM training for students, is blasting into the future with a new state-of-the-art facility that will provide next-level education opportunities.
Last week, Governor Kay Ivey and Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield joined Space & Rocket Center officials and local leaders in Huntsville for a ribbon-cutting center for the new Space Camp Operations Center.
Made possible through a grant from the Governor’s Office and a sponsorship with Boeing, the facility will serve as a central location for Space Camp programs as well as provide a new home for U.S. Cyber Camp.
“A $10 million state economic development grant, awarded with the governor’s approval, planted the seed that has grown, bloomed and blossomed into this state-of-the-art center we are dedicating today,” Dr. Kimberly Robinson, CEO and Executive Director of the Space & Rocket Center, said during the event.
The 40,000-square-foot Space Camp Operations Center will function as the hub for all program operations, providing a one-of-a-kind educational resource for campers who come from 150 countries and all 50 states.
“Space Camp provides a unique opportunity to learn about scientific disciplines in a hands-on, interactive way, and through this program we are igniting our young people with a passion for discovery and feeling their minds with great opportunities,” Governor Ivey said.
She said the Operations Center, which features an auditorium that seats 1,000 people and 10 classrooms and labs, stands as an example of what can be accomplished through teamwork.
“This is what is possible when we actively look for ways to utilize and strengthen our public-private partnerships and when we prioritize innovation,” she added.
Governor Ivey also praised Boeing, which has been active in Huntsville since the beginning of the nation’s space program over six decades ago, for “building a beautiful legacy” in Alabama. The aerospace giant has supported the Rocket Center’s programs for over 40 years.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why Boeing supports STEM education. It’s simple — it’s because we’re focused on the future, and we want to inspire the next generation of leaders,” said Ziad Ojakli, executive vice president of Government Operations at Boeing.
“It’s not enough or students to read about space in books. The real opportunity is to get out of the classroom and feel the magic of space. That’s why the Space Camp Operations Center is so important,” he added.
Ojakli also announced that Boeing is providing a grant to support Mission BLAST, a program to benefit local high school students who may have never visited the Rocket Center or attended Space Camp.
Since opening in 1982, Space Camp has graduated more than 1 million participants from nearly 150 countries.
Canfield, who has served as Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce since 2011, said the Space & Rocket Center is a remarkable asset for the state.
“It’s hard to imagine 1 million students coming through the doors of this facility and seeing an Alabama that they never dreamed of and certainly didn’t expect — but that is who we are and that’s why we’re here,” Secretary Canfield said.
He added that the new Operations Center will allow a new generation of students from around the globe “to learn about space exploration, STEM skills and a little bit about the state of Alabama and its people.”
(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)