NASA Wallops Offers Career Inspiration to Delmarva Students

NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, partners, and area employers joined forces on a mission to inspire more than 4,500 eighth-grade students seeking answers to all questions “career” at the 2024 Junior Achievement (JA) Inspire event. The annual career-exploration event was held March 12-13 at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury, Maryland, featuring more than 100 local businesses in 15 career clusters.

Public and private school students from Sussex County, Delaware; Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Dorchester, Wicomico, Worcester, and Somerset counties in Maryland; and Accomack and Northampton counties in Virginia, attended JA Inspire to connect with community members representing various career fields. Students were offered an engaging experience full of insight into the education and skills needed for specific careers, and information on how to find jobs when entering the workforce. The event featured hands-on activities, industry tools and equipment, and inspiration for students as they begin to map high-school coursework and future career paths.

“At Wallops, we are delivering on NASA’s mission today, while planning the mission of tomorrow. And that includes our workforce,” said David L. Pierce, director of NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. “Wallops is partnering with local institutions to build a diverse, highly-skilled workforce.”

The event’s Aerospace Industry exhibit cluster included nearly 40 NASA Wallops employees, showcasing career opportunities in sounding rockets, scientific balloons, small satellites, launch range operations, robotics, and education. An additional 35 representatives from Wallops’ partners also joined the cluster, including personnel from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy’s Surface Combat Systems Center, and Virginia Spaceport Authority.

“Wallops is committed to supporting JA Inspire because it connects students from across the Eastern Shore between what they are learning in the classroom to the outside world right here on Delmarva,” said Pierce.

Career inspiration and education doesn’t stop at the conclusion of the JA Inspire event. The Wallops’ team will continue to reach out to area students at the Wallops Flight Facility Junior Achievement Storefront located inside the Perdue Henson Junior Achievement Center in Salisbury, Maryland.

Wallops will join approximately 20 storefronts inside the center, which offers experiential learning of financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship to more than 10,000 students each year. The center serves students from six counties on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and one county in Virginia. Storefronts are sponsored by area businesses and run by JA staff and respective business volunteers, who guide students through a designed program for a 4.5- to 5-hour period during school hours.

Programs offered at the center include Biz Town where students experience a “day in the life” of a working person and running a business. Students learn how a business operates, pays its bills and employees, and earns revenue. Another program, called Finance Park, focuses on how to plan a household budget, pay bills, and look for housing and transportation. Wallops volunteers will have a chance to offer their expertise to these learning opportunities, while promoting NASA and STEAM careers on Delmarva.

“JA Inspire helps students have a better understanding of how the real world operates,” said Pierce. “In our fourth year of supporting JA Inspire and with the start of our storefront, Wallops continues to motivate students to take up a STEM-related study track in high school, and hopefully one day come to work here at Wallops.”

Wallops’ storefront is slated for completion by mid-April.

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