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Effects of NASA layoffs continue

By BriAna Franklin
On February 13, 2013

  • Panther Dolls Perform at halftime of the Rockets/Spurs game. Adrienne Wincher

As America marks the 10th anniversary of the Columbia shuttle crash in 2003, NASA is also left to acknowledge a considerable void in employment.
Despite Houston's recent number one economy ranking by The Brookings Institution in the Global MetroMonitor, NASA continues to see layoffs at Johnson Space Center.
While space layoffs have left the employees and staff to find alternate means of income; restaurants and small businesses that have depended on NASA employees to fund their businesses are also left to find revenue elsewhere.
Feb. 1 marked the 10th year of the Columbia tragedy and also marks the slow halt of NASA's shuttle program under the presidency of George W. Bush.
The Clear Lake and Nassau Bay community have been experiencing the brunt of NASA's influence on the Houston economy since layoffs began in 2010. NASA has assured this is not the end of the space shuttle program, instead yet another beginning.
According to the official NASA website, "The end of the space shuttle program does not mean the end of NASA, or even of NASA sending humans into space.
NASA has a robust program of exploration, technology development and scientific research that will last for years to come."
Focused on three mission directories; aeronautics, human exploration and operations, and science, the next generation of scientists is left to question whether it will have a place at NASA.
"Although NASA is not my primary choice, I would definitely consider working with them if given the opportunity. The layoffs make me hesitant to consider NASA as an employer," said Alexis Clinton, a sophomore chemical engineering major.
The Johnson Space Center is responsible for much of NASA's work on the International Space Station, an orbiting laboratory of new innovation in medical research, industrial materials, and communication technology.
As its name hints, the International Space Station is home to 16 nations across the world working to produce new science to aid the human race.
The United States work on the Space Station is scheduled to end in 2020 with a possible extension to 2028, thus closing another phase of NASA innovation and more importantly employment.
Usually grabbing the interests of mathematics, physics, computer science, and engineering students, NASA serves as a possible employment avenue for many Prairie View A&M University students, however as Johnson Space Center considers another downsize students share an additional concern about NASA employment opportunities.
"I believe NASA is a way to open doors for what I can do next, but NASA is a program that targets at getting into space. Now that we are there what else is there to do?" said Aaron Fowler, a sophomore civil engineering major.
While the face of NASA is changing along with the needs of science and financial commitments, the look of contracted companies who support NASA's space initiatives such as Lockhead Martin and Jacobs Engineering Group are also changing.
Regardless of the changes, NASA continues to father a new generation of scientists, engineers, and mathematicians.
Through the use of Space Grants and internships, NASA is investing in change.
Helping to support students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, NASA says it is "advancing high quality STEM Education using NASA's unique capabilities."
"I recently finished an interview with NASA at Johnson Space Center as a research assistant, aiding material scientists in finding out when and why certain space crafts malfunction while helping to create the robots that gather information and materials in outer space," said Andre Dorrough, a junior chemical engineering major.
Evolution is inevitable and as NASA celebrates the close of an era, the next generation is called to be a part of the change, placing them on a track of innovation that creates new jobs rather than lingering in the loss of old ones.

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