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Rose-Hulman, NASA Partner to Offer First Study Abroad Opportunity in Space

Friday, April 01, 2016
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Students selected will follow in the footsteps of alumnus and National Aviation Hall of Fame inductee Abe Silverstein, known as the “father of Apollo” for his work on the early manned spaceflight missions.

Beginning in the 2016-2017 academic year, Rose-Hulman will offer a study abroad option that is out of the world—literally—thanks to a new partnership between the institute and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Four students will spend the winter quarter in the International Space Station (ISS) where they will conduct experiments alongside professional scientists as part of the one-of-a-kind partnership between the college and the space agency.

Announcement of the new program’s launch comes on the heels of a $500,000 NASA grant awarded to Rose-Hulman’s physics and optical engineering professor Paul Leisher to design and test semiconductor lasers. His work, which will also involve undergraduate and graduate students, will enable high speed free-space optical communication systems.

Albert Yorick, NASA’s director of collegiate outreach, says that the new study abroad program marks the agency’s latest effort to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, and its first initiative targeting college students. Rose-Hulman seemed like a natural fit for the partnership, Yorick said, given the college’s longstanding ties to the space program, dating back to Operation Moonwatch.

The students will be the first residents of the new Bigelow Expandable Activity Module habitation system, scheduled to be installed at the ISS during the next resupply mission, according to Lt. Commander Yuri Gagarin.

On campus, students lined up hours before the information session, where Yorick joined Rose-Hulman President Jim Conwell in introducing the program.

“I’ve never seen this many nerds in one place,” Yorick said. “And I work at NASA, so that’s saying something.”

Those selected won’t be the first from Rose-Hulman to make history with NASA. They will follow in the footsteps of alumnus and National Aviation Hall of Fame inductee Abe Silverstein, known as the “father of Apollo” for his work on the early manned spaceflight missions.

Junior physics major Joseph Little was part of the standing room only crowd in the institute’s student union.

“I’m just here for the freeze dried ice cream,” he quipped, as Yorick handed him a freshly stirred glass of Tang. Little added that while he didn’t get a summer internship at SpaceX this year, a chance to study on the International Space Station is “almost as awesome.”

Applications are being accepted through May 1 for this extraordinary opportunity. Ten finalists will be chosen to compete for the four coveted slots, with the winners to be announced June 15.  The selected students will begin a rigorous six-month conditioning process in July. 



Wouldn’t it be cool if this were true? Sadly, it’s not.

But we’re working on it! ;)

The NASA grant part is true, though. So is the part about Abe Silverstein. And Operation Moonwatch.

Yup, we’re full of surprises. Curious? Learn more about us.