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Pinewood Prep student selected for national NASA aerospace program

  • Thursday, June 13, 2013

Provided Pinewood rising senior Katie Smoak (center) is one of 40 female students nationwide to be selected to NASA’s WISH Program. From left are Emily Pelcher, Brendan Diffley, Katie Smoak and Matti Easterday at Joint Base Charleston’s Women in Aviation event.

Pinewood Preparatory School rising senior, Katie Smoak, has been accepted into NASA’s Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math High School Aerospace Scholars (WISH) Program. She is one of 40 female students nationwide accepted into the program.
WISH is a one-of-a-kind experience for female high school students to explore the possibilities of a “STEM” related career from some of the top engineers in the country.  The program accepts over 300 aspiring female engineers from across the nation for an online program, and chooses 40 of those candidates to attend a hands-on summer experience at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Tex.  Smoak is the only South Carolina student selected to attend the program.
“WISH gives some of our brightest future innovators a chance to experience some of the exciting challenges that NASA engineers and scientists face on a daily basis,” said Ellen Ochoa, NASA Johnson Space Center Deputy Director and former astronaut. “It shows the young women that there are a variety of opportunities for them in technical fields.”
Smoak competed for a spot in the summer experience through an application process, and by successfully completing the first part of the program, a 14-week distance learning and research project, this past spring.
Smoak will attend the all-expense paid summer experience at Johnson Space Center later this month, where she will collaborate with other selected students and NASA engineers and scientists to create a NASA-based mission.  Program attendees will also be mentored by NASA engineers, participate in hands-on engineering activities, hear presentations from a number of experts, and tour the Center’s facilities.
When asked about what the program means to her she said, “The WISH Program opens up opportunities for girls who aspire to become engineers,” says Smoak. “It will allow me to meet women in this field, and see what it is like to be a woman in a male dominant work place.”
Smoak has been a student at Pinewood since Kindergarten.  She has excelled academically, particularly in the areas of math and science.  She is a member of Pinewood’s regional champion girls’ track and field team and the school’s media technology club.  She is co-president of the school’s Panther Ambassadors Club.
For more information about the WISH Program visit http://wish.aerospacescholars.org. For information about Pinewood Prep, visit www.pinewoodprep.com.

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