Carthage College, of Kenosha, has been named the lead institution for the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium and is the only private liberal arts college in the country to be assigned a leadership role.
The WSGC consists of a network of space and aerospace professionals, researchers, students, educators and legislators. The consortium belongs to a national network funded by a NASA program that Congress created in 1988.
“The WSGC is the voice of NASA in the state of Wisconsin,” said Carthage professor Kevin Crosby, who is the new director of the consortium. “Having it at Carthage means we can use the unique capabilities of our students and faculty to grow aerospace education across the state.”
Crosby, who teaches in the Physics and Astronomy Department and in the Computer Science Department at Carthage, has worked with undergraduate students on space science research initiatives affiliated with NASA throughout his career.
The WSGC, which the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay previously took the lead on, facilitates student rocket competitions, backs near-space balloon platform research, and provides funding for interns at companies including Orbitec and Space Explorers Inc. The consortium also distributes seed funding to faculty toward curricula with an aerospace focus.
“One of our key goals is to foster an environment where students, educators and the private sector work together to inspire a love for the STEM subjects,” said Christine Thompson, newly appointed program manager.
At Carthage, the WSGC is currently working on developing new programs, including a summer research initiative on remotely operated vehicles.
The consortium was recently awarded two grants – a $188,000 grant for First Nations Launch, a program in which student teams from tribal colleges participate in high-altitude rocket challenges, and a $485,000 grant from NASA to cover balloon payload research at two-year colleges.