NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. spent two and a half hours on the campus of Morgan State University today, touring facilities in the University’s science and engineering schools and talking with students and faculty about their research. Bolden — a former U.S. Marine Corps aviator and NASA astronaut, and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy — is the first black person to head the space agency. NASA is a major funder of research at Morgan, providing millions of dollars in grants each year.
“It’s exciting for me to be here and not visit (but) return to one of America’s great institutions of higher learning,” Bolden said. “…I’m also glad, especially, to have an opportunity to interface with the students.”
Bolden lauded Morgan for helping the Obama administration in one of its high-priority areas, “the engagement of more Americans from all backgrounds in the study of STEM courses: science, technology, engineering and math…. (Morgan) is a national leader in the production of African-American scientists and engineers, and it turns out more of them than any other college or university in the state of Maryland,” he noted.
“…You have a record that you can be incredibly proud of, and it’s one of the reasons NASA chose Morgan as a major research partner,” Bolden continued. “The story of Morgan, the story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America, is the story of overcoming overwhelming odds to give African-American students the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Four Morgan electrical and computer engineering students presented their current, NASA-funded research work to Administrator Bolden, Morgan President David Wilson, Morgan Engineering Dean Eugene DeLoatch and others, during a media event at Morgan’s Engineering Visualization Research Laboratory.
Louverture Pluviose, an undergraduate senior, briefed the group on his work with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Reneé Etoty, a first-year master’s degree student, described her research on NextGEN, a satellite-based air transportation system being developed to replace the ground-based National Airspace System. Doctoral candidate Amaro Thiam outlined his work on haptic controls for aircraft cockpits. And Dontae L. Ryan, a doctoral student in Morgan’s Center of Excellence in Systems Engineering for Space Exploration Technologies (CESET), briefly explained his project: an adaptable power amplifier for NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System.
Students from two Baltimore middle/high schools — Friendship Academy of Science and Technology, and Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy — were also invited to the campus and had an opportunity to meet and ask questions of Administrator Bolden. Bolden’s fraternity brother, Morgan alumnus Kip Ward, a retired four-star U.S. Army general, joined the administrator for some brief remarks to the young people.