Aug, 2009: PACER 2009 Images and Videos Posted. Click Here to view them.
The Physics & Aerospace Catalyst Experiences in Research (PACER) Program for
Minority Institutions Project Summary
The “Physics & Aerospace Catalyst Experiences in Research (PACER)” project is being developed in response to science and engineering (S&E) workforce assessments by the National Science Board and other U.S. institutions that attracting and retaining students into S&E careers is of paramount importance if the U.S. is to maintain its technology lead. Further, to support a high technology economic future, today’s students also need research experiences that emphasize practical skills, techniques and methodologies that are directly applicable to the development of future science and engineering projects and products. Finally, the greatest opportunity to expand the nation’s pool of technical talent will likely come from efforts focused on women and minorities.
In 2007, NSF funded a pilot version of PACER to test and evaluate some of the program concepts. The pilot consisted of two summer programs (2007 and 2008) and three years of academic year support (2007, 2008 and 2009) during which we started three institutions (one in 2007 and two in 2008). The summer program used established materials to guide the teams while they built skills in electronics, real-time programming, design and management which they will then applied to the design, fabrication and operation of a small science experiment that was carried to the Edge of Space by a helium filled sounding balloon. The pilot was highly successful and we are now starting our second academic year support.