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UH-Clear Lake students win spot as finalists in NASA competition

Students developed campaign to inform the public and to build middle and high school students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education

From the Office of Communications at University of Houston-Clear Lake

April 25, 2007

A group of four senior-level communication students at University of Houston-Clear Lake have been selected as one of seven finalist teams in the 2007 NASA Means Business national student competition.

The team of students competing from UH-Clear Lake includes Lindsay Humphrey, team leader; Brian K. Patterson, community outreach specialist; Judy Reustle, Web designer; and Danielle Singleton, videographer/video editor. The team has two faculty supervisors: Ashley Packard, associate professor of communication and Communication Program convener; and Taleen Washington, lecturer in communication and faculty adviser for student publications.

“I think this illustrates the kind of talent we have at UH-Clear Lake , both in terms of the quality of our students and the quality of instruction they have received in the communication program,” Packard said.

“We are never surprised to find that our students have achieved success on a national level,” said UH-Clear Lake President William Staples. “Any time our students experience success, the university benefits. It validates and supports our goal of offering the best educational opportunities in the Bay Area. I offer my congratulations and best of luck in the competition and advise them to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.”

NASA Means Business (NMB) is an annual competition sponsored by the Texas Space Grant Consortium that challenges college students to plan and then create marketing campaigns to encourage the American public to support the space program. NMB urges students from both traditional space disciplines and those not normally associated with space, including communication, advertising/marketing, and business/finance, to enter the competition.

Each year NMB chooses a different theme on which students must base their promotional campaign. This year students were asked to create a campaign that would build middle and high school students’ interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Additionally, the students’ marketing plans must communicate to the greater public at large why STEM education is vital to the United States , its economy, its space program and its citizens.

The UH-Clear Lake NMB team is competing against six other student teams from universities across the United States . They include the following:

  • Arizona State University and The Art Institute of Phoenix (ASPIRE)
  • Bentley College and Boston University
    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University ( Florida )
  • Miami International University
  • Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi
  • University of Northern Iowa

As part of their promotional plan, the UH-Clear Lake NMB team is developing a 30-second video public service announcement, a Web site, a print campaign and an extensive community outreach campaign based in the greater Houston and Clear Lake areas.

“The three main components of our promotional plan – the PSA, the print media campaign, and the Internet presence – try to overcome the image problem of STEM subjects not being cool in a variety of ways, many of them unconventional,” Humphrey said. “I think our ability as a group to think outside the box and our strong backgrounds in communication will really help us stand out in this competition.”

The team has managed to bring local students from La Porte High School and Clear Lake Intermediate School into their promotional plan by featuring the students and their artwork in the video PSA, Web site and print campaign components. As part of their community outreach campaign, the UH-Clear Lake NMB team initiated an art contest at those schools in which the students will convey through original works of art what they think STEM subjects will mean to their futures. The winning artwork will become part of a traveling exhibit that will debut at Space Center Houston Friday, May 4. In addition, the students’ artwork will appear on bookmarks, bookcovers and the UH-Clear Lake NMB team’s Web site.

In February, the UH-Clear Lake NMB team met with members from four of the six finalist teams at NASA’s Johnson Space Center for an intensive two-day orientation, at which students toured the space center and met with various NASA officials to learn more about the space program. In March the team presented their work in progress for feedback via a videoconference. The UH-Clear Lake NMB team will present a workshop at the end of April at UH-Clear Lake ’s Annual Student Conference for Research and Creative Arts, which this year is being held in conjunction with the Southwestern and Rocky Mountain Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s 82nd annual conference. May 6-9 the team will travel to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to present their final work to a panel of judges. If the UH-Clear Lake NMB team is then chosen as the grand prize recipient, the students will go on to present their work to senior officials at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

“It is exciting to know that what we are doing has the potential to make a real impact in the way students view STEM subjects,” Humphrey said. “Just through the community outreach portion of our plan, we are able to help raise awareness of how vital these subjects are to the future of our country.”

The Texas Space Grant Consortium is a group of 36 institutions, which include universities, industrial organizations, non-profit organizations and government agencies within Texas that are joined to ensure that the benefits of space research and technology are available to all Texans. In a broader context, the National Space Grant Program, consisting of 52 Space Grant consortia nationwide, cooperate to achieve this goal for all Americans.

For more information about the TSGC or the NASA Means Business student competition, visit

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