FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
DATE:  June 21 , 2004
CONTACT:  Dr. Philippe Tissot, Assistant Professor, Physical and Life Sciences, (361) 825-3776; Steve Paschal, Public Affairs, (361) 825-2336  

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Team One of Five Finalists in National NASA Means Business Competition
 
When it comes to informing the public about the United States’ space program, NASA means business. The same is true for a team of students from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

In May, three A&M-Corpus Christi students presented their Ispacestation.com public service announcements (PSA) to a panel of judges at the National Space and Aeronautics Administration’s national “NASA Means Business” finals at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Other finalist schools were Arizona State University, San Jacinto College, the University of New Hampshire and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

While the team of Robert Nuckols, Edward Marjy and Cassidy Johnson didn’t bring home the top prize, it was the second consecutive year that the University’s team advanced to the “final five.” The threesome spent an average of five hours a week over two semesters putting together their presentation. It was also the second time that Nuckols, a senior biology major, has headed the small A&M-Corpus Christi team which competed against schools with dozens of participating students.

"This wasn’t a chore for me, I love NASA,” Nuckols said. “When I was a kid I had a neighbor who worked on bringing back the Apollo 13 crew and I never forgot that... We did well last year but I wanted to go back and try to win this year. We didn’t win, but we learned from our mistakes and we got better.”

“NASA Means Business” is designed to get the nation’s colleges and universities involved in promoting the space program with the assistance of non-science majors from the fields of marketing, advertising, business, engineering, communication, radio-television-film, journalism and other academic disciplines. In addition to providing a forum for the presentation of each student team’s work, the conference was structured to allow students to interact with NASA officials and astronauts.

According to team sponsor Dr. Phillippe Tissot, assistant professor of physical and life sciences, each team created two short videos aimed at children to explain what the International Space Station, which is scheduled to be launched within the next five years, will accomplish and how it is important to everyday life. Once in Houston, each team was given a set of criteria and told to complete another project by the following day.

As a senior computer science major, Marjy applied his expertise to creating a Web site to go with the PSAs. By going to Ispacestation.com, viewers can see a model of the space station and may dismantle or reassemble the components with the click of a mouse.

“NASA wants to use fresh ideas to communicate to the public and get students from across the country interested in NASA,” he explained. “I wanted to show children that the space station is a complicated machine with pieces that all come together.”

Johnson, who is working on her graduate degree in biology, would like to work for NASA someday. She believes that the space program is important not only to science but the nation’s image of itself.

“We see doom and gloom every day but NASA should be an outlet for optimism in this country,” she said. “War separates people but NASA brings people together. We need to communicate to the public what NASA is doing so they will support the space program.”

More information about the NASA Means Business competition is available by going to the web.