NASA engineer helps students shoot for the stars

NASA engineer helps students shoot for the stars

Dr. K. Renee Horton’s mission is “to change what the face of STEM looks like.”Not only is she helping to put the next man and first woman on the moon, but she’s also working to change the trajectory for hundreds of kids in our community. However, the path to becoming a NASA engineer wasn’t always easy for Horton. She became intrigued with space at a young age. “I got my first telescope from my dad and it just really opened my eyes that there’s so much more to the world than just us in a place where we stand,” Horton said.But it was her hearing that took her off-course. Horton wanted to become an astronaut but learned as a teen she had a hearing disability. However, the idea of space continued to pull her in. So about 10 years after learning about her disability, Horton, a then-single mother of three, enrolled in LSU’s electrical engineering program. “Going back to school with three kids was amazing,” Horton said. “It was hard. It was tough, but they gave us all that growing feeling of how important education was.”That hard work paid off. In 2011, Horton became the first African American to graduate with a Ph.D. in material sciences with a concentration in physics from the University of Alabama. In addition to now working as the lead engineer on NASA’s Artemis Program at Michoud, Horton is also a mentor for Chevron’s Fueling Math Program. “When students meet someone who not only excels in math but also uses it in their career, they start thinking about STEM professions they could pursue,” said Caitlin Hunter, community engagement specialist for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit. Horton helps to launch lessons for hundreds of children now both virtually and in-person, connecting culture with calculations. “Cooking is the biggest math problem there is right?” Horton said. “Take a recipe and say, ‘The recipe says it’s for four people and we only want to do it for two people so can you help me calculate how to do half of this recipe.'”Horton said it’s so gratifying to see that interest take flight and she hopes more children take advantage of the opportunity. “When you talk about 200 kids on a Sunday morning you tell me about excitement,” Horton said.Registration for the program will be open until March 5 and families can sign their students up at www.fuelingmath.com. Watch the video above to learn more about this story.

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Dr. K. Renee Horton’s mission is “to change what the face of STEM looks like.”

Not only is she helping to put the next man and first woman on the moon, but she’s also working to change the trajectory for hundreds of kids in our community.

However, the path to becoming a NASA engineer wasn’t always easy for Horton.

She became intrigued with space at a young age.

“I got my first telescope from my dad and it just really opened my eyes that there’s so much more to the world than just us in a place where we stand,” Horton said.

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But it was her hearing that took her off-course.

Horton wanted to become an astronaut but learned as a teen she had a hearing disability.

However, the idea of space continued to pull her in.

So about 10 years after learning about her disability, Horton, a then-single mother of three, enrolled in LSU’s electrical engineering program.

“Going back to school with three kids was amazing,” Horton said. “It was hard. It was tough, but they gave us all that growing feeling of how important education was.”

That hard work paid off. In 2011, Horton became the first African American to graduate with a Ph.D. in material sciences with a concentration in physics from the University of Alabama.

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In addition to now working as the lead engineer on NASA’s Artemis Program at Michoud, Horton is also a mentor for Chevron’s Fueling Math Program.

“When students meet someone who not only excels in math but also uses it in their career, they start thinking about STEM professions they could pursue,” said Caitlin Hunter, community engagement specialist for Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico Business Unit.

Horton helps to launch lessons for hundreds of children now both virtually and in-person, connecting culture with calculations.

“Cooking is the biggest math problem there is right?” Horton said. “Take a recipe and say, ‘The recipe says it’s for four people and we only want to do it for two people so can you help me calculate how to do half of this recipe.'”

Horton said it’s so gratifying to see that interest take flight and she hopes more children take advantage of the opportunity.

“When you talk about 200 kids on a Sunday morning you tell me about excitement,” Horton said.

Registration for the program will be open until March 5 and families can sign their students up at www.fuelingmath.com.

Watch the video above to learn more about this story.

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