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NASA Targets Students at UVa

NASA wants to tap into the young talent at the University of Virginia. The director of NASA's Space Technology program was on grounds Tuesday. He said Virginia is a hot spot for NASA's future.

UVa engineering students got some insight Tuesday into what NASA is working on and why it matters to everyone.

"A lot of the work we do has a spin off, it has an application for us here on earth and our every day life," said Michael Gazarik, the director of the NASA Space Technology program.

Gazarik said Virginia is a key part of the aerospace industry, from its Langley Research center in Hampton to companies in the state developing aerospace materials. One of the ways NASA is hoping to expand its reach is through its Space Technology program.

"We're looking at advanced technology both to help NASA's missions and also investing in the nation's innovation economy. So, this is about creating jobs and it's about keeping america and NASA on the cutting edge," Gazarik said.

"It's simple -- if we don't do it, someone else will," said Jesse Quinlan, a Ph.D candidate at UVa and a current NASA Space Technology research fellow. His focus of study: hypersonic flight.

"Maybe a couple decades from now, you could be flying from D.C. to California in under an hour," Gazarik said.

The Concorde jet led the way to supersonic commercial flight, but Quinlan says scramjets have the potential to bring us into even faster hypersonic commercial flight.

"They have the potential to actually bring down space access cost to the point where we could be doing missions much more rapidly and at much cheaper rates than we do today," Quinlan said.

"There's a lot of great ideas, a lot of insights here at the university. It's a top notch university, and from a NASA perspective, we want to tap into that talent," Gazarik said.

There are currently 128 fellows from 37 universities in NASA's Space Technology program. NASA hopes to double the number of applicants for the next round of the fellowship.

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