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New Partnerships Between NASA, Embry-Riddle Discussed with Aerospace Icons of the NSBE, Legacy Pathways

Embry-Riddle President Dr. P Barry Butler, the student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and Kenneth Hunt, Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, welcomed an impressive gathering of NSBE space industry luminaries this week to the Daytona Beach Campus for a daylong dialog on creating mutually beneficial partnerships between Embry-Riddle students and NASA researchers.

Nationally recognized educators, scientists and administrators from NASA’s Glenn Research Center and Johnson Space Center, Lockheed Martin and the National Space Society toured the College of Arts & Sciences with Dean Dr. Karen Gaines and the College of Engineering with Dr. Maj Mirmirani, dean and interim senior vice president for academic affairs and research. Special guests included Dr. Joi Spraggins, president of Legacy Pathways, Danny Fuqua, president of the Black Pilots of America and Bethune-Cookman Dean of the College of Engineering, Science and Mathematics, Dr. Herbert Thompson. 

Several Embry-Riddle NSBE chapter representatives were on hand as tour guides and participants, including graduate student Osarodion Ogbebor-Evans and undergraduate students Ruth Chungi, Malik Moville, Raymond Miller, Mehvesh Shaikh and Fevens Jean Louis. 

Afterward, the group headed for lunch and presentations at the nearby Florida NextGen Testbed, hosted by Chris Kokai, director of Testbed operations. Joining the group for the afternoon were Business College Dean Dr. Mike Williams, Dean of Students Lisa Kollar, ‎Senior Executive Director of Development Chris Lambert and Lt. Col. and Chair of Army ROTC at Embry-Riddle, Todd Mitchell.

After opening remarks by President Butler, a presentation on the NSBE Space Special Interest Group was led by Ken Ruffin, Director of the National Space Society and Dr. Dexter Johnson, Structural Systems Dynamics Chief at the NASA Glen Research Center. Dr. Robert Howard, NASA Habitability Design Center Manager and Tim Willis, a SAIC Engineer working at the Johnson Space Center, challenged Embry-Riddle aerospace engineering students to design viewing windows that integrate into an RV-sized long-range lunar rover.

A second presentation on the International Space Station (ISS) included NASA Johnson Space Center research scientist Lakita Lowe and assistant to the center director Darryl Gaines, Lockheed Martin Fellow Ernest D. Levert and Dr. Joi Spraggins. Dean Mirmirani talked about the goal of having students design and build research projects aboard the ISS in the not too distant future.

The afternoon ended with Embry-Riddle SpeakER Series director and radio host Marc Bernier broadcasting his afternoon radio program live from the Florida NextGen Testbed, where he discussed the day’s events with NSBE students and the visiting NASA scientists.

The day wrapped up with special thanks going out to Kenneth Hunt for bringing together NSBE, scientists, educators and students, and Embry-Riddle staff and administration to create the possibility of close collaboration with NASA on exciting new future research in space.

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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit erau.edu, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and facebook.com/EmbryRiddleUniversity, and find expert videos at YouTube.com/EmbryRiddleUniv.