Connecting high school students with space careers

Connecting high school students with space careers

U.S. Department of Education launches the Your Place in Space Challenge.

In the five decades since astronauts first walked on the Moon, space has become an important part of the American economy. Today, the space industry employs hundreds of thousands of people and generates hundreds of billions of dollars in economic value. The space economy — which includes activities that are critical for advancing technology, enabling navigation, and enhancing security on Earth — is expected to triple in size over the next 30 years, employing over 1.5 million people and generating $780 billion in economic activity by 2050. But without a skilled workforce, that vision will never become a reality.

Almost any career — from manufacturing and botany to healthcare and hospitality — can be a space career. And many students in career and technical education (CTE) programs are already learning skills that are essential for success in the space industry. But most students don’t know how their career pathways connect to the space industry, and beyond astronauts and rocket scientists, many of the industry’s most crucial roles aren’t highly visible.

This week, the U.S. Department of Education launched the Your Place in Space Challenge to connect the dots between the skills students are building in CTE programs and the fulfilling careers they can have in the space industry. This is the first challenge in CTE Momentum, an annual challenge series to prepare high school students for rewarding careers and increase access to CTE. The Your Place in Space Challenge, designed and produced by Luminary Labs, invites high schools to submit designs for a product or service that will contribute to space missions and exploration.

This spring and summer, high schools can prepare for the upcoming school year by exploring curated resources to learn more about the space industry and find inspiration for bringing the Your Place in Space Challenge into classrooms. When students return to school, teachers can assemble teams and work closely with students on their designs. Teams may pursue designs in an area of their choice or find inspiration from one of the suggested areas of exploration — including topics such as space debris, the International Space Station, space travel, and the environment.

Submissions are due by October 30, 2023. An independent judging panel will review submissions based on the challenge selection criteria and recommend up to 10 winners, who will each receive at least $5,000. The Department anticipates announcing the winners and launching the next annual challenge in early 2024.

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