The idea for this competition began several years ago. The College of
Menominee Nation (CMN) began competing in the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium’s
(WSGC) collegiate rocket competition and the NASA University Space Launch
Initiative. They started with no knowledge of rockets! Through workshops held by
the WSGC and CAD software designed for building rockets,
they have now launched over a dozen
high-powered rockets. They began to ask the question; if we can do it, why can’t
other tribal colleges do the same thing and First Nations Launch (FNL) was born.
Through the leadership
of Dan Hawk, former president of the CMN rocket club, Norbert Hill, former Vice-President of the CMN Green Bay
campus, Dr. Aileen Yingst, WSGC Director, and Sharon Brandt, WSGC Program
Manager, the inaugural launch took place at Richard Bong State Recreational Area
on May 1, 2010 with the help of a Minority Serving Institution Partnership grant
from NASA. During the second year of FNL, American Indian Science and
Engineering Society (AISES) teams were added. The Tribal College teams and AISES
teams compete in different competitions on the same day. The AISES teams are now
part of the annual competition with help from a NASA Exploration System Mission
Directorate (ESMD) grant from Kennedy Space Center.
If it were not for the generous funding of NASA during this initial
launch, the First Nations Launch program would not exist. NASA is committed to
promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math opportunities for everyone.
Their investment marks the beginning of what is planned to be an annual
competition for many years to come
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