Engineering faculty from California community colleges are learning how to build drones and rockets as part of a project that runs daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, July 14, at Fresno State’s Engineering East building (Room 223).

The completed drones will fly from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Thursday, July 13, at Clovis Community College. Model rockets capable of flying about 1,000 feet above ground level will be launched Saturday, July 15, at Tripoli Central California in Helm. Each drone and rocket will carry scientific payloads that will analyze data taken during flight.

The training is part of a NASA Minority University Research and Education Project grant program that selected four educational institutions across the nation to receive up to $250,000 per year over a three year period to expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

Last year, the training was hosted at Sonoma State University and led by Dr. Lynn Cominsky, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Sonoma State, who helped write the NASA proposal based on her experience with high school students.

“NASA is incredibly inspirational, and being able to participate in a NASA-funded program and have the chance to intern in a NASA-related summer program has really attracted the interest of a varied group of students,” Cominsky said.

Participants in the NASA Minority University Research and Education Project include Napa Valley College, Reedley College, Los Angeles City College, College of San Mateo, Contra Costa College, Fresno City College, Irvine Valley College, Merced College and Rio Hondo College.

“This week we are here together developing STEM educational materials for the new Rising Data curriculum to help increase the pipeline of students transitioning from community colleges into four-year institutions,” said Dr. Gregory Kriehn, electrical and computer engineering professor in the Lyles College of Engineering at Fresno State. “The input of both community college and university professors enables us to collectively tailor educational materials to students interested in pursuing STEM related fields, create educational bridges with community colleges by developing coursework relevant to our curriculum and to utilize new technology as a way of showcasing STEM.”

Kriehn and his students were recently featured in the cover story of Fresno State Magazine for their work developing unmanned aircraft systems for farming applications.

For more information, contact Rebecca Wass, communications specialist, at 530.208.7445 or

Related Links:

Fresno State Magazine:

Lyles College of Engineering


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