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Introducing the Next Generation of Scientists, Engineers and Astronauts

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Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

NASA Engineer Sam Ortega emphasized the same concept as he spoke to students at the Honeywell Leadership Challenge Academy (HLCA) at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. His talk made an impact on many young minds, including Vaishnavi Prabhakaran.

“After listening to Mr. Ortega today, I feel motivated like never before! I know I have to return home and seek a career in science and math that excites me,” said the 17-year-old from Bangalore, India. “I no longer want to do something just because that’s what my peers are doing or something that others want me to do.”

In February and March 306 students from 39 countries and 26 U.S. states and territories attended HLCA to learn leadership skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). They met scientists, engineers and astronauts from NASA who reinforced core leadership competencies, sharing their first-hand professional experiences and offering advice about STEM opportunities. Students engaged in team-building challenges such as designing, building and testing their own rockets; participating in simulated astronaut training; participating in shuttle missions and taking a moon walk.

Honeywell Hometown Solutions, the company's corporate citizenship initiative, in partnership with U.S. Space and Rocket Center has designed this unique, global experience for children of Honeywell employees between the ages of 16-18. The purpose of this program is to encourage high school students from around the world to pursue STEM-related careers and learn about global STEM opportunities for their future.

“Even though it was very space-focused with a lot of engineering aspects to it, the lessons can be applied across all STEM fields,” said Leslie Chan, an alumna of HLCA who plans to pursue studies in biology.

HCLA Banner "With this opportunity, we allow students to see a vision of themselves in the future without any filters, families and friends," said Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO and executive director of the US Space and Rocket Center. "They judge themselves against their global peer groups and consider a course of action for their own future."

During HLCA, these students went through an inspiring journey - they walked in with a sense of wonder, stayed with a sense of enchantment and walked away with a sense of having grown at a rate perhaps unmatched in the world outside. And many like Vaishnavi, received an even greater gift of learning about the world of opportunities out there for them, a greater understanding about themselves and perhaps what they want to be. Confucius would approve.

Kerry Kennedy
+1 973 727 2904  - Mobile