Friday, October 7, 2011

The Week That Was

Tonight, I provide just a brief update, after a long and action-packed week for the Indiana Space Grant Consortium.  Over the weekend, we learned that there will be an opportunity to write another proposal to NASA this fall, for augmentation funds to expand and enrich the program activities of the Consortia.  Thus, Monday afternoon’s activities emphasized a meeting to address some of the priorities to consider for this augmentation proposal.  It’s clear that while we are doing very well in a number of areas, there is a continuing push to increase the diversity of participation in STEM projects.  Over the next few weeks, this proposal will be the focus of a number of our strategic planning activities, and a highlight of our Affiliate teleconferences later this month. 

Starting on Tuesday morning, Dr. Dawn Whitaker and Angie Verissimo represented INSGC at the Great Midwestern Regional Space Grant Meeting.  (I had to stay home and take care of some additional priority tasks, including other campus proposal development and getting my students ready for their exam and organizing their semester projects.  It’s times like this that the value of effective and skilled staff really comes through: Dawn took an active role to ensure that next year’s Regional Meeting in Milwaukee would be in good hands (i.e., ours), and Angie also contributed as one of the student poster judges.  Arriving home late Wednesday afternoon, they both turned around to start in Thursday morning with an important visitor: Diane DeTroye, the NASA Headquarters program manager for the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, who was here to greet and learn on her way from the Regional Meeting to another Space Grant activity in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Yes, it seems that our program manager is putting in some long hours, too.)  I can only express my heartiest gratitude to Dawn, Angie, and INSGC intern Isa Fritz for helping to demonstrate our improvements and quality in our program management, electronic and social media presence, and campus and statewide reach.  (There are lots of others to thank as well, including Ann Broughton’s lunchtime discussion of Space Day’s student participation; Martin Fisher’s great data from the Outreach to Space event at Science Central; Bruce Hrivnak’s Valparaiso event calendar, including congratulations to Todd Hillwig for his new NSF grant; and Dean Leah Jamieson, who made space in her busy calendar and described why we believe so strongly in EPICS as a transformative model in service learning.)  It can only be a good thing to have your NASA program manager to leave with a smile on her face, and positive words in her comments. 

Friday saw no letup in our activity.  I’m continuing to work on the Purdue campus proposal, but I did manage to join Dawn and Angie for a training session for Pathevo, a STEM career and college major counseling software package. Our training session was set up so that we at INSGC could deploy the software over the coming year.  We hope to focus especially on underrepresented and underserved students, and try to overcome barriers that prevent students from even moving into STEM majors at our great affiliates in the first place.  The training session was followed by a business office meeting—once a month, the three of us sit down with multiple business and sponsored programs managers to coordinate, improve, and sustain INSGC operations and fiscal / accounting flow.  As soon as we were done, Dawn got ready to deliver some INSGC banners for transport and display at the Celebrate Science Indiana event being held on Ocotber 8 at the State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.  I went back to other proposal meetings (having read and commented on the students’ first team assignment—when did that get slipped in?) for the remainder of the afternoon and into the evening. 

Next week, we’ll be back at it again—more proposal activity, more NASA reporting, and more consortium planning and management tasks.  Just another week at the office.