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ODU Senior Speaks With Members of Congress in Support of NASA

Maria Liberto, a senior mechanical engineering major at Old Dominion University, went to Capitol Hill last month on behalf of Citizens for Space Exploration (CSE) to lobby for a space exploration program with a goal of investment in NASA set at 1 percent of the federal budget.

The Coalition for Space Exploration, in conjunction with the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership's Aerospace Advisory Committee, sponsored Liberto for the May 19-22 trip.

"It is always an honor to be selected and to be a part of something you are so passionate about," Liberto said. "As students, we tell Congressman our testimonials how NASA has had an impact in our lives. I went to space camp when I was younger, and it absolutely changed my life. From there on, I knew I wanted to go into engineering and hopefully work with NASA one day. Basically, it is important to me to keep NASA going so there is a job market for students, like me, once we graduate."

More than 300 congressional office visits were made during the trip. CSE works with elected officials, corporate and individual contacts to ensure continued political and public support for our nation's space programs, particularly the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle, and the new Constellation Program. CSE is comprised of a diverse group of small and large business representatives, students and teachers, and county/municipal officials and employees.

Liberto, who is from Joplin, Mo., joined 35 other undergraduate and graduate students from colleges and universities across the nation to inform elected officials of the importance they place on the space program and the electoral influence that they and their fellow students and faculty carry. In addition to mechanical engineering, their majors included astrophysics, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, math and physics. The program and its many initiatives relate directly to their future careers.

This article was posted on: June 18, 2008

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