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Students Take Reigns at Space Flight Center

Students Take Reigns at Space Flight Center WORCESTER, Mass.
A long running partnership between NASA and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is giving WPI students hands-on working experience at the Goddard Space Flight Center. Over the past six years the Goddard Space Flight Center outside of Washington, D.C., has served as a training ground for more than 100 WPI students to work on real-world projects at NASA.
The most recent group of Goddard projects are near completion and WPI undergrads will be giving their final oral presentations this month. Dr. Fred J. Looft, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director and founder of the WPI program at the Goddard Space Flight Center, recently advised nine student teams at the center. The program gives students the chance to present solutions to complex problems on topics ranging from spacecraft model development to x-ray telescope design.
 “The Goddard center gives students applied engineering experience that can’t be taught in a classroom. All of the students who participate in the program not only learn a great deal, but are much better prepared when they become a part of the work force,” Looft says. “We’ve had great success in our partnership with NASA and plan on expanding the program in the years to come.”
Working at the Goddard Space Flight Center exposes the students to the same issues NASA’s top engineers face everyday. NASA recognizes the value of WPI’s hands-on approach to education and many WPI students end up working at NASA following their graduation.
“The work WPI students do at NASA isn’t the back-burner kind,” says Alda D. Simpson, associate director of the Applied Engineering and Technology Directorate at the center. “It’s research that’s integral for current NASA initiatives, and gives WPI students practical experience only found on the job. That makes them better candidates when they graduate.” 

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