FY 2014 ASU/NASA Space Grant Graduate Fellow Michael Thompson, a Hispanic PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, serves as ASU's Academic Director for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). He is passionately interested in the development of biomimetically inspired micro air vehicles (MAVs). He is equally passionate about empowering other minority students to pursue STEM educational tracks/careers through experiencing the excitement and challenges of being an engineer. His Space Grant Fellowship provides an opportunity to marry his passions by leading project STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts, and Engineering & Mathematics) Enrichment Program activities. Working in partnership with Zell Fowler, President of the Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators, professionals from local industry, and ten peers recruited through SHPE, Michael developed and delivers an aerospace engineering curriculum, "I believe I can fly", that provides hands on educational opportunities to 60 primarily Hispanic and African American elementary and middle students from three Phoenix area Title 1 schools. Students learn first-hand about aerospace engineering principles of flight through modeling, designing, building and testing mechanical flapping-wing bird MAVs. They find the STEAM program's hands-on approach to engineering that encourages creativity and innovation to be fun and exciting. Pre- and post-program evaluations demonstrate they are building STEM competencies and interests, along with "if they can do it, then we can do it" attitudes inspired by working alongside inspiring minority role model engineers.
Michael Thompson, NASA Space Grant fellow
Armando Rodriguez, Professor of Electrical Engineering at ASU, Nasa Space Grant Research Advisor
Zel Fowler, President of black school educators, Nasa Space Grant Outreach Mentor
Marjaneh Gilpatrick, Grand Canyon University outreach director, Nasa Space Grant Outreach Mentor