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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 8, 2001

Windward students benefit from NASA grant

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward Bureau

KANE'OHE — Windward Community College will receive a $125,000 NASA grant to establish an Aeronautics Education Laboratory that will benefit students in grades K-12, according to U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink.

The college was one of only five selected nationwide to receive this competitive grant from the NASA Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy. The grant will help establish and operate the Windward Aerospace Academy, an outreach arm in science and technology education, said Joseph Ciotti, professor of astronomy, physics and math, who solicited the grant.

The Aeronautics Education Laboratory — the first facility of its kind in the state — will operate in conjunction with an extensive array of space exploration facilities at the college, including the Aerospace Exploration Lab, the Lanihuli Observatory, the Hall of Discovery, the Hoa'aina Center and the Hokulani Imaginarium. The lab will contain $25,000 to $50,000 worth of computers that can run experiments using such technology as wind tunnels, remote sensing and the global positioning system, Ciotti said. Another computer will have a flight simulator, in which students can learn to fly.

The academy is a dream Ciotti has had since being a member of the Teacher in Space program at St. Louis School 15 years ago.

"I had foreseen the need for an academy with a planetarium and aerospace exploration lab and an aeronautic center," he said. "It's a fulfillment of a plan that has been put together for the past 15 years."

Initially, the project will serve K-12 youths attending schools in Windward O'ahu, targeting low-income and under-represented populations in the fields of math and science, Ciotti said. A special target group will be high school students in WCC's residential Upward Bound program, which provides students an opportunity to gain the skills and motivation necessary to succeed in college.

Students in the 2002 summer program will benefit from the new academy. To apply, call Sandy Matsui, Windward's dean of student services at 235-7413.