Example highlight: Shanell Sinclair
My name is Shanell Sinclair. I love cats and spending time with my family. I am a Native American transfer student from Blackfeet Community College. I am majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in aerospace engineering at Montana State University. I hope to one day work in the aerospace industry. Currently I am doing my first internship with Montana Space Grant Consortium. I am working with the BOREALIS program which is a high-altitude ballooning program. My project is building and programming an accelerometer to track orientation during flights. I came here to be part of my state’s space program and get real hands-on engineering experience.
The Montana Space Grant Consortium (MTSGC) works to strengthen education in Montana in NASA-related fields. In addition, the program works toward NASA STEM Engagement priorities. To accomplish the overarching goal, MTSGC offers a set of student and faculty opportunities geared toward hands-on projects and other effective engagement styles. MTSGC’s motto is “Inspire - Imagine - Innovate”.
Academic Affiliates of MTSGC consist of all the colleges and universities in the state that offer at least one STEM degree. Fourteen of our current 23 academic affiliates are community colleges and seven of these are Tribal Colleges. MTSGC Academic Affiliates vary widely in size and scope, which allows the program to reach a diverse population of Montana students. Other Consortium partners include aerospace industry businesses, non-profit organizations, and museums. MTSGC works with these Affiliates and partners, and through the government and public outreach, to promote an active STEM base in the state.
Core unique MTSGC elements include the BOREALIS ballooning programs, local internship and undergraduate research programs, small satellite projects, unmanned aerial systems projects, the Space Public Outreach Team, and Faculty Fellowships. These programs are specifically targeted to align with NASA’s mission and interests in Montana. For instance, MTSGC is supporting research that has made Montana State University one of the top three most active academic small satellite programs in the country. Additionally, MTSGC continues to lead collaborations with Space Grant Consortia across the country for balloon-borne data collection during total solar eclipses worldwide.
MTSGC has a focus on increasing participation of underrepresented and underserved students in STEM education and research. For example, the program offers hands-on workshops to introduce students to research, especially those who do not currently have research opportunities on their home campus. The workshops are designed to help participants learn what it means to conduct research and to inspire them to pursue further research opportunities, becoming our next generation of innovators.