Online aerospace training advancing

Florida Space Research Institute

The Florida Space Research Institute is expanding an e-learning program

designed to help aerospace workers advance in their careers through online

coursework.

FSRI's Advanced Learning Environment initiative was created by a partnership

between NASA and the state of Florida as a way to provide additional training

to workers in the aerospace industry and academia.

More than 1,400 Florida residents have registered to access the program

for free for a year - an effort that has proven successful so far, said

Tom Cavanagh, program manager for the Advanced Learning Environment. Many

of the students are from the Kennedy Space Center and from the aerospace

industry, but high school and college students and faculty members are also

well represented, he said.

Now the goal is to enhance the Advanced Learning Environment program

and expand it beyond Florida.

The program currently offers about 50 self-paced modules encompassing

more than 30 hours of Web-based training, most of which is intended for

aerospace technicians. The program is open to anyone, including federal

and state government employees, Cavanagh said.

FSRI will receive $35,000 from NASA via the Florida Space Grant Consortium

to develop an online mentoring pilot program scheduled for launch in January.

The program will pair students with aerospace industry representatives.

The goal is to "inspire kids to be the next generation of aerospace workers,"

Cavanagh said.

An additional $75,000 from the University of Central Florida's NASA-sponsored

Hydrogen Research and Application Center will be used to build new course

modules about cryogenics training.

The Advanced Learning Environment involves other partners, such as Latitude360,

a division of RWD Technologies Inc., which provided the infrastructure for

the program via its University360 e-learning suite of products. The advantage

of the software is that it is a "collection of tightly integrated applications"

that allows FSRI to add additional capabilities as needed, said Laurence

Myers, principal engineer at Latitude360.

FSRI officials chose to have Latitude360 host the Advanced Learning

Environment solution instead of managing it themselves, Myers said. This

arrangement relieves customers of having to manage the back-end hardware

and infrastructure issues that often require additional resources, Myers

said.

Also, systems performance is not an issue. "Because it is hosted out

of one of the top-tier data centers, we have true broadband connectivity

all around the world," Myers said.

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