NIA Provides NASA Experience for Newport News Students

NIA Provides NASA Experience for Newport News Students

The National Institute of Aerospace’s (NIA) Center for Integrative STEM Education team worked with NASA’s Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate (SACD) to offer a face-to-face experience with fourth grade students participating in the Newport News SPARK program. Forty-two students from Newport News Public Schools’ Summer Program for Arts, Recreation and Knowledge (SPARK) visited the NASA Langley Research Center on August 4th to participate in a hands-on STEM experience facilitated by NIA’s educators. Students worked side-by-side with SACD engineers to learn about engineering design. The students performed activities relevant to SACD: design a glider, self-propelled vehicles, and space capsule landing. Students were encouraged to ask questions as they went along, work as a team, and test and refine their designs. The experience culminated in a panel discussion where SACD engineers answered students’ questions that were noted throughout the experience. The interaction was filmed and will be edited to create an informational video that SACD may use to engage and build students’ career awareness.

NIA Research Fellow Creating Dynamic Crash Models

Ed Fasanella, Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), is a member of a three-person team at LaRC working to create dynamic finite element crash models that correlate with actual drop tests. On Wednesday, July 29, the Emergency Locator Transmitter Search and Rescue (ELSTAR) program, sponsored by the U.S. Air Force and managed by NASA Goddard, conducted its second crash test at Langley. The purpose of the tests is to study how well emergency locator transmitters positioned throughout the aircraft hold up during a crash. Efforts are being made to create a crash-resistant beacon that will help rescuers quickly locate a wreckage. For each test, a Cessna 172 was dropped from the NASA LaRC Landing and Impact Research Facility. The initial test was done on concrete; the second test onto dirt. A crucial component to the tests includes both modeling of the soil and the airplane’s impact on the soil. For this second test, Fasanella supervised a team who took soil measurements to determine soil density, moisture content, and soil strength with depth. The data will be used to improve the dynamic models. The third and final test is scheduled for August.

To view the CBS news coverage of the crash test, visit: and



100 Exploration Way
Hampton, VA 23666