BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A partnership between NASA and several area HBCUs is looking to increase diversity in the geosciences by providing paid internships with hands-on research experiences.

It’s called Student Airborne Science Activation, or SaSa. It’s an eight-week paid internship that will allow 25 students from the six partner HBCUs to work with and learn from NASA experts.

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“It’s really cool to be among people that are like minded as you, people who share the same passions, people who have huge influences on the world at large, so it’s gonna be a great experience,” said Daniel Harrison, a Morgan State University junior who is in the program.

Over the eight weeks, participants will spend time at each partner school to conduct “observations, calculations, data collections, launching airborne devices, aviation equipment and related aircraft.” They’ll even have the opportunity to fly along in NASA aircraft to conduct specific research.

On Wednesday, students and scientists launched a weather balloon from the football field at Morgan State.

Angelica Stewart, a sophomore at Howard University, is one of 25 students selected to participate.

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“I hope to connect with different people, I hope to be 100% smarter, I want the neurons in my brain to grow,” said Stewart.

The goal of the program is to increase minority representation in ocean, atmosphere and earth sciences.

“I am a woman in STEM, I am a black woman in STEM, that’s like a double minority in STEM and this program 100% supports that,” said Stewart.

Over the past 40 years, the minority representation in geosciences has remained relatively low, NASA said.

“It’s a way for us to increase that area of population in this workforce,” said Dr. Richard Damoah, the principal investigator for Morgan’s SaSa team and associate Research Scientist with the Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Branch at NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center;

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They hope to do that by providing guidance, counseling and motivation to pursue a career in STEM.

Sean Streicher