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Alex: Okay, everyone. Let’s meet Dr. Addie. She’s a planetary scientist who knows firsthand how UCF is making an impact in space. Here, she’ll share how UCF was founded as a space university and has grown its ties to major space agencies and companies to help students and alums break into the industry. Addie, over to you.

Adrienne Dove: Happy to be here, Alex. If you want to conduct research and be at the forefront of humankind’s exploration of space, then UCF is where you want to be. Here at UCF we ask the big questions and explore our expansive universe, everything from the possibility of finding and characterizing planets around other stars, building spacecraft and instruments to explore space and other planets near and far, finding water and resources on the moon, simulating planetary soils, and studying space dust, which is one of my specialties and is a bigger problem than you might think.

Our proximity to the Space Coast and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center has allowed us to cultivate and provide talent for Central Florida and the growing US Space program for decades. Nearly 30% of Kennedy Space Center employees graduated from UCF, which has long been the top supplier of aerospace and defense graduates in the nation.

UCF’s reputation as Space U is one of the reasons I was drawn to work here at UCF. We’re at the forefront of science and technology development. You can see the distant galaxies and the rings of Saturn from right here at Robinson Observatory on campus. Two UCF grads have gone on to become astronauts. The 50 yard line at our football stadium lines up on the same latitude as NASA’s historical launch complex 39A by design. Many of our faculty and researchers are NASA veterans, work on contracts with NASA, and have contributed to some of the biggest and most important programs throughout US space history. There are 18 asteroids named after UCF faculty and researchers, including yours truly, and UCF even has an exoplanet named after it.

In addition to the faculty and staff in our various departments, the Florida Space Institute based at UCF is made up of researchers and educators and works in partnership with other Florida universities. Our faculty and researchers are involved in a number of NASA missions, including future lunar missions, the ongoing OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons missions. And our alumni have gone on to take giant leaps in the space industry with companies such as NASA, Boeing, Lockheed, ULA, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic.

In addition, it’s not just our faculty and researchers who get this hands-on experience. Students are involved in many of these projects throughout their time here at UCF. As we look to further explore the Moon, pioneer onto Mars and expand our place in the galaxy, one thing is for certain, UCF’s students, faculty, and alumni will be a part of turning possibilities into realities. The gateway to the Moon and Stars starts here at UCF.

This is Addie Dove, signing off.

Alex: Addie, that was awesome. Thank you. Wow. It’s incredible to see just how invested UCF is in developing research and a talent pipeline for the space industry and advancing out of this world’s scientific discoveries. It’s easy to see how the campus connections benefit former and current students. That was awesome. Cheers, Addie.

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