November 23, 2004
Sacramento State gets Space Center funds
A significant funding boost of $500,000 for a Space Science
Center on the Sacramento State campus is on its way as part of the Congressional
Consolidated Appropriations Act passed at the end of November. The funds will
augment an initial $500,000 donation primarily from the estate of the late physics
professor, Chien Hu.
Space-related industry contributes $24 billion a year to the California economy, employing some 180,000 direct jobs with an average salary of $60,000. Attracting students to the sciences so that they can fill these jobs is an essential role of California State University, Sacramento said President Alexander Gonzalez.
“Our Space Science Center hopes to attract nearly 25,000 regional elementary, middle and high school students a year to its programs including planetarium shows, observation nights, exhibits and workshops,” said Gonzalez. “We believe the facility will attract students to pursue degrees in various fields of science and further Sacramento State’s educational and research efforts in astronomy.”
The Space Science Center project is estimated to cost $8 million and will be located on the northeast side of the campus. The building is part of the Destination 2010 master plan revision envisioned by Gonzalez to help transform the University into a campus for the new century.
“Sacramento is the largest metropolitan center without a state-of-the-art planetarium and observatory, and that needs to change,” said Marion O’Leary, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The Space Science Center will contain an observatory, planetarium, hands-on science exploration areas and laboratories for university students interested in astronomy research.
The federal funds will allow the University to expand on partnerships with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in hosting the Space Science Center and purchasing a wide range of equipment including solar and astronomical telescopes, observatory domes and high-volume lab servers. Part of the project will house the Center for Mathematics and Science Education that provides assistance to support and enhance the skills of more than 1,000 K-12 mathematics and science teachers annually. It also encourages the pursuit of teaching those subjects in K-12 schools by providing workshops, training sessions and other support, said O’Leary.
In issuing a news release, Congressman Robert Matsui (D-Sacramento) who supported the measure said, “Strong science and math education is essential to maintaining America’s place at the top of space research and exploration. Innovative approaches, like those offered at Sacramento State help students and experts alike realize the dreams and potential of our generation. California is a leader in our nation’s space industry and the integrated Space Science Center will help keep our state on the cutting edge or research and development.”
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