NASA, FAA Team Up to Teach Science and Aerospace Skills

NASA, FAA Team Up to Teach Science and Aerospace Skills
NASA has created a full-scale, highly sophisticated simulator of an airport control tower at its Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. Known as the Virtual Airport Tower, the two-story structure emulates Level 5 air traffic control towers and the busiest airports. It allows NASA to conduct in-depth human factors studies with quantifiable results using actual air traffic controllers, airline dispatchers and airport managers.

NASA andthe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have agreed to cooperate to fosterthe development of students' skills in science, technology, engineering andmathematics.

The memorandumof understanding signed by the two agencies supports the FAA's mission toprovide the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world and NASA'smission to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery andaeronautics research.

"Thisis a perfect example of collaboration that complements and supports eachorganization's educational goals," said Dr. Joyce Winterton, NASAassociate administrator for Education. "Joint outreach efforts like thiswill contribute to NASA and FAA goals for a diverse, qualified aviation andspace workforce for the future."

Thepartnership includes a broad range of cooperative outreach activities. Theagencies' initial focus is on a NASA curriculum called "Smart Skies."Smart Skies is an online air traffic control simulator for students in fifththrough ninth grades. It is designed to offer a fun and exciting way to learnmath and skills central to airtraffic control while providing multiple modes of problem solving forstudents who learn in different ways. [Click here for the NASA simulator.]

Theagreement unites the strengths of both agencies to provide the best ofaviation-related educational products and experiences to the widest possiblepopulation of students and educators.

"Thesynergy of this relationship will promote joint endeavors that motivatestudents to further develop their skills for careers in aviation andaerospace," said Ruth Leverenz, FAA associate administrator for Region andCenter Operations, Washington.

SmartSkies' unique approach also exposes students to high-technology careers relatedto aviation, among them air traffic control. NASA developed the program withhelp from air traffic controllers at FAA's Oakland, Calif., facility.

NASA's SmartSkies Air Traffic Control Simulator is availablehere.

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