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EMU Engineering, Partnering with NASA

Christopher Clymer Kurtz

Eastern Mennonite University has just begun offering an engineering degree -- but students are already making connections with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration -- better known as NASA. WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz reports.

NASA currently has more than twelve hundred active domestic Space Act Agreements, or partnerships between NASA and other organizations aimed at furthering NASA’s mission. EMU has just begun its 3-year agreement.

PROFESSOR ESTHER TIAN: I am super excited about this program.

Mechanical engineering professor Esther Tian says EMU will get input from NASA into its curriculum development, inherit high-tech equipment that the agency no longer needs, and be able to offer students exposure to NASA--maybe even internships.

In return, NASA gets potential future employees and assistance with research in areas such as ozone and hydrofracking.

This fall is the first semester for both EMU’s new engineering major and the university’s Space Act Agreement, and Tian and students traveled to Langley Research Center to see NASA at work.

TIAN: On the way back, a couple of students were just brainstorming ideas about building our own wind tunnel. Just from one trip, you have already seen so many outcomes, and all toward the direction we are heading to.

SOPHOMORE BEN ZOOK: I was just definitely blown away by the vast amount of research that was being done.

Sophomore Ben Zook was on the trip. He saw researchers divide into groups to accomplish specific tasks as part of larger projects, a model he can apply -- albeit on a much smaller scale -- as president of EMU’s Engineers for a Sustainable World club.

ZOOK: They got so much done. It kind of gave me an example of what a group of engineers should be doing.

Christopher Clymer Kurtz was a freelance journalist for WMRA from 2015 - 2019.