Assemblymember Cahill Hails Ulster BOCES and NASA Partnership
(Kingston, NY) – Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill (D-Ulster, Dutchess) proudly welcomed NASA’s Stacy Hale and Robert Thate to Ulster County as they launched the High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) Program – a new and exciting educational initiative that is being made available to the Ulster BOCES Career and Technical Center. This pioneering, school-based program partners NASA instructors with academic institutions across the country in order to get young adults more interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by challenging them to design and manufacture real-world equipment for use in the International Space Station.
“As a passionate advocate for our students in public schools, we must do all that we can to maximize their potential for future success by ensuring they have access to cutting-edge and innovative educational opportunities,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “I am thrilled to see this relationship come to fruition, as I have no doubt that HUNCH will prove to be a unique and enriching experience for these young scholars. The type of hands-on learning offered by this program is essential if we hope to inspire more of our youth to pursue careers in the science, technology, engineering and math fields.”
The idea of HUNCH started in the summer of 2003 when Mr. Hale thought that high school students could build cost-effective hardware that was needed to help train astronauts. Many were skeptical about the idea at first, but through his hard work and dedication, the HUNCH team quickly expanded and began producing extremely positive results for all involved. While recently visiting Ulster BOCES, Mr. Hale discussed some of the projects that will be offered in various classes. For example, computer design manufacturing students will be tasked with building transport containers to ship space cargo. NASA will be responsible for supplying students with the materials, equipment and instruction they need to create finished products for actual use, while hopefully producing a new generation of researchers and academics along the way.
“If our country hopes to continue to be a dominant force in the rapidly changing global economy then we need to actively and creatively invest in our children’s education,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “I am extremely proud that one of our local schools has been selected to participate in such a prestigious endeavor, and I cannot wait to see what revolutionary concepts will be created right here in Ulster County.”
During state budget deliberations over this past legislative session, Assemblymember Cahill lent his strong support to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Incentive Program. This plan will provide high school students, who are in the top-10% of their graduating class, with full tuition scholarships at SUNY or CUNY institutions if they pursue a bachelor’s or associate’s degree in a STEM area of study and agree to subsequently work in the field in New York for five years. His efforts to promote STEM in our community have also led to a $50,000 grant for the Rhinebeck Science Foundation in 2012, as well as state funding to break ground on a new science building at SUNY New Paltz this year.
“We are thankful for this partnership, as it really validates the good work of BOCES. NASA has high standards, and their acceptance of us into the program is a testament to our high standards. At the end of the day our kids will benefit,” said Dr. Charles Khoury, District Superintendent, Ulster BOCES.