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SU, NASA Formalize Partnership for Student Opportunities Through Space Act Agreement

NASA agreement signing
SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre (front left) and Dr. Makenzie Lystrup (front right) formalized SU’s partnership with NASA during a signing ceremony for the Space Act Agreement. Joining them were Dr. Michael Scott, dean of SU’s Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology; Dr. Laurie Couch, SU provost and senior vice president of academic affairs; David Pierce, NASA Wallops Flight Facility director; and Henson School faculty members.

Thursday March 28, 2024

SALISBURY, MD—Salisbury University students have new opportunities to reach for the stars thanks to a new Space Act Agreement signed between SU and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The partnership is expected to provide enhanced experiential learning opportunities for SU students at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, VA, and to strengthen the pipeline for NASA involvement on campus, including the potential for guest speakers and participation in campus events such as job and career fairs.

“This occasion marks a momentous agreement between our institution and NASA Wallops, one that underscores the spirit of collaboration and innovation that defines both of our organizations,” said SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre.

“NASA Wallops has long been at the forefront of space exploration, pioneering breakthroughs that have expanded our understanding of the universe and inspired generations of scientists, engineers and dreamers. Similarly, SU has a proud tradition of academic excellence and a dedication to pushing the boundaries of knowledge across various disciplines.

“By joining forces, we are embarking on a journey that holds immense promise for the future. … From space exploration and technology development to environmental sustainability and beyond, our collaboration with NASA Wallops opens up new frontiers of discovery and innovation.”

“Our success at NASA, now and in the future, depends on a dynamic network of partnerships focused on our mission operations and growing the next generation of innovators,” said Dr. Makenzie Lystrup, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center director. “NASA’s partnership with Salisbury University expands our workforce development ecosystem and provides students with real-world experience in critical aerospace career fields.”

While the agreement formalizes SU’s partnership with NASA, the organizations have a history of collaboration. In 2021, eight SU students designed and built a ThinSat that was launched from Wallops for delivery to the International Space Station. The small satellite relayed information to help determine thunderstorm impacts on the magnetic field in the lower thermosphere and to identify weather phenomena more difficult to detect with ground-based instruments.

Previous SU-Wallops initiatives have included a study of the effects of microgravity on metastasizing cancer cells, in collaboration with Old Dominion University.

SU’s connections to NASA are not limited to just the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Through the Virginia Spaceport Authority, Wallops has hosted SU interns not only with science and geography backgrounds, but also in fields like public relations. Two SU art students have designed mission patches flown to the International Space Station through a program hosted by the University of Maryland, College Park.

In addition, multiple NASA officials have spoken at SU, including Space Shuttle astronaut Richard Arnold II, Hubble Space Telescope Mission deputy project manager Jim Jeletic and, most recently, Dr. J. Tanner Slagel, research computer scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

According to David Pierce, Wallops Flight Facility director, the SU Space Act Agreement partnership will provide necessary long-term resources for the facility.

“Our operations are growing at Wallops, underscoring the need for an innovative, skilled workforce to advance our science and technology missions,” he said. “This agreement is helping us fill a critical workforce need to propel us into the future.”

Lepre hopes this collaboration is just the beginning for SU.

“Beyond the scientific and technological advancements, today’s agreement is a testament to the power of partnerships and how they can shape our future,” she said. “It symbolizes our shared commitment to nurturing talent, fostering collaboration and making a meaningful impact on society.”

Learn more at SU and opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.