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George E. Carruthers, an astrophysicist in a federal research agency, was the first recipient of the Outstanding Technical Contribution Award at the BEYA STEM Conference. Carruthers was known for his innovative methods for conducting space experiments, particularly from the space shuttle.

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Carruthers created the first observatory on the moon in 1972 called the Far Ultraviolet Camera, which was used in the Apollo 16 mission. The camera captured around 200 images that revealed never-before-seen features of the Earth’s outer atmosphere and deep-space objects from the moon’s perspective. Carruthers also captured an ultraviolet image of Halley’s Comet in 1986, and in 1991, he invented the camera used in the Space Shuttle Mission.

During the 1980s, Carruthers participated in the creation of the Science & Engineers Apprentice Program, which enables students to work with scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory during the summer. He also contributed to the development of a set of Earth and Space science videos for high school students. (Learn more about George Carruthers here)

No doubt about it, Carruthers would have been proud to learn that a Historically Black Colleges and Universities Science and Technology Council has been established by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA).

The council comprises representatives from Alabama A&M University, Florida A&M University, Morgan State University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina A&T State University, and the University of the District of Columbia.

Founded in 1969, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology, and engineering. USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities and employs in-house scientific leadership, innovative research and development, and project management expertise.

The Historically Black Colleges and Universities Science and Technology Council will serve as a platform offering HBCU faculty and students the ability to engage in research projects, professional development, and networking opportunities with USRA and its government sponsors in space- and aeronautics-related fields.

“We are excited to partner with USRA to establish the HBCU S&T Council,” said Dr. Victor McCrary, council chair and vice president for research at the University of the District of Columbia. “By working together, we will provide students and faculty new opportunities to contribute to developing significant research innovations in both the basic and applied areas of national importance.”

The HBCU S&T Council will provide guidance to USRA in support of USRA’s efforts to engage with HBCUs, identify strategic opportunities and institutional needs, and provide contacts for future partnerships and programs. It will also identify programs consistent with USRA’s mission and purpose to assist HBCUs with institutional capacity building in areas related to space-related research and development. In addition, the HBCU S&T Council will review and assess the performance of USRA programs, and their impact on USRA’s nonprofit mission.

The council is addressing funding prospects from the National Science Foundation for projects and programs to build research capacity at HBCUs. It is also developing capability statements in the space sciences and engineering for their respective universities. And finally, it is exploring various opportunities that may be available with the United States Space Force and the U.S. Department of Defense.

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