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Boeing videoconference at UTPA attracts Valley students
By Gail Fagan, Public Affairs Specialist
381-2741
Posted: 03/24/2005
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In its continuing collaboration with The University of Texas-Pan American to interest and support South Texas students in the fields of science, engineering, mathematics and technology, The Boeing Company presented its second annual live videoconferencing event from its Houston facility to more than 250 area students Feb. 25 in the UTPA Engineering Building.

The informational presentation, which featured top Boeing engineers and project managers, described Boeing’s vision for space exploration and its role in NASA’s International Space Station (ISS). As prime contractor, Boeing NASA Systems plays a central role in every aspect of the design, testing, building and operation of the ISS – NASA’s orbiting laboratory.


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Students from UTPA and Rio Grande Valley schools are pictured interacting with top Boeing engineers during a live videoconference from Houston held recently in the Engineering Building.
According to its Web site, The Boeing Company’s mission regarding higher education is to “promote interest, access for diverse populations and enhance critical skills required for a student’s academic and professional success.” The videoconference is one method developed by Boeing and NASA to instill the interest in scientific discovery on future engineers and scientists.

During the two-hour session, high school students from four different Rio Grande Valley schools as well as University students and faculty had the opportunity to hear from and interact with three experienced professionals, who discussed the different aspects of the ISS they have worked on and what challenges and discoveries await students pursuing engineering and other technology-based careers. Participating schools included Edinburg North High School, Edinburg High School, McAllen High School, and Valley View High School in Pharr.

The videoconference, which Boeing also recently presented to students at the University of Puerto Rico, offered students a rare opportunity to interact with top-level people applying concepts learned in college to real-world work situations.

The presentations from Houston began with Carlos Pagan, a mechanical engineer and an associate technical fellow for Boeing, who talked about his responsibilities regarding the thermal performance of the ISS. Pagan has been awarded the NASA Space Flight Awareness Award and is known for his significant contributions to the thermal design of ISS and improvements to the thermal analytical processes and tools.

Describing his role on maintaining the ISS electrical power systems was Arturo Martinez, an electrical engineer for Boeing, whose duties involve working in the Mission Evaluation Room at the NASA Johnson Space Center. Martinez provided a comparison of the ISS power configuration to that of a conventional utility power company and an overview of solar energy conversion as it relates to ISS operations.

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Interim Dean of the College of Science and Engineering Dr. Edwin LeMaster joined students in asking questions about Boeing's role in the Internatinal Space Station during the live videoconference presented by The Boeing Company Feb. 25.
Jeffrey Robles, a mechanical engineer who works in the Mechanical Structure EVA and Robotics Group and on the ISS Loads and Dynamics Team, gave the audience a view of his role in ISS on-orbit dynamic analyses and in providing input to design requirements and resolution of load issues regarding the ISS. His team also plans on-orbit tests for analyses validation and health monitoring of the astronauts and use the resulting data to assess structural changes that might be necessary to the ISS.

Both Robles and Pagan earned their degrees from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez campus while Martinez graduated from the University of Houston.

Questions about careers with Boeing and NASA were uppermost in many of the minds of student members in the audience. Panelists fielded inquiries regarding the types of engineering degrees that Boeing and NASA require as well as what high school students can do to help prepare themselves for careers in engineering, science and technology. Panelists recommended that students take the highest level of math classes available as well as join student organizations that promote science literacy and inform and mentor students in these fields.

Karla Ramos, a GEAR UP Counselor who accompanied a group of students from McAllen High School to the conference, said the event provided a wonderful experience for their students and a great insight into the students’ future plans.

“The students were truly impressed and inspired by the skills and knowledge of the presenters and are looking forward to opportunities for internships with Boeing. We thank Boeing for giving time to our students and investing in their future,” she said.

After the videoconference, Arturo Rosales, director, Americas Programs, Boeing Satellite Systems presented the University’s College of Science and Engineering a $50,000 check from The Boeing Company for the UTPA/Boeing Scholars program. The check from Boeing is part of a commitment made in 2002 to donate $200,000 toward scholarships for engineering and computer science majors as well as provide support for student Mini Baja and robotics competition teams within the college.

“When you think of U.S. corporations that really care about people, Boeing has to be at the top of the list. They have demonstrated this by embracing UTPA as a partner even though they do not operate a plant in the area. We very much appreciate the financial support they have provided to HESTEC and to the Boeing Scholars program at the College of Science and Engineering," said Roland Arriola, vice president for the UTPA Division of External Affairs.

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