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The University of Hawaiʻi has received a three-year, $480,000 grant from NASA to provide engaging STEM opportunities through a new aerospace academy for Hawaiʻi’s underserved high school students.

The UH effort will be led by Associate Professor Dilmurat Azimov from UH Mānoa’s Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering. Azimov and his team will continue their work with the recently created Hawaiʻi’s Aspiring Aerospace Engineers Academy that aims to inspire and train students through experiential learning, hands-on projects, opportunities to engage with NASA experts and other STEM professionals, research studies and exposure to space exploration missions and technologies. UH students will also be able to participate in the academy.

UH is one of eight institutions to earn a total of $3.8 million as part of NASA’s Minority University Research and Education award program.

Related story: NASA grant, engineering academy to foster more minority students, September 15, 2020

“There are such schools which do not offer classes or projects related to aerospace engineering, including aerospace technologies and space mission design. Some schools may offer such classes, but they do not provide opportunities for applications of the students’ knowledge,” Azimov said. “Therefore, the sources of inspiration and motivation for these students in planning their future careers in the areas of aerospace engineering are limited.”

Azimov’s team intends to capture the students’ attention and imagination by involving lessons based on the Moon outpost mission, Artemis, and scientific experiments on the lunar surface, followed by the Mars landing mission and exploration technologies.

“In order to graduate STEM-knowledgeable, well-trained and competitive students in these areas, it is important to recruit these students while they are still in school and introduce them to engineering problems thereby connecting them to higher education,” Azimov said.

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