Opportunities for Everyone in an America Built to Last

Today, I had the opportunity to visit one of our nation’s great institutions of higher learning – Morgan State University in Baltimore. This Historically Black College has been a leader in creating a whole new generation of scientists, engineers and technology innovators. These leaders will be essential to our efforts to reinvigorate our high tech workforce with jobs for tomorrow, jobs that last and make long-term contributions to our economy and our capabilities.

One of the major goals of NASA and the Obama Administration, as the President emphasized in his State of the Union speech last night, is the engagement of more Americans from all backgrounds in the study of science, technology, engineering and math – or the STEM disciplines.

The President has been clear that we need to do more to create jobs and help economic growth. And under his leadership, the economy is growing again. The economy has added a total of 3.2 million private sector jobs over the last 22 months.

But, it is not enough to create new jobs – we must make sure our students and workers get the education and training they need so that we have a workforce ready to take on the jobs of today and tomorrow. ,

And That’s exactly what they’re doing at Morgan State. I had the chance to see demonstrations of the university’s cutting-edge research in aeronautics, space science and earth science projects that are the result of its partnership with NASA.

The university is a national leader in the production of African American scientists and engineers and turns out more of them than any other college or university in the State of Maryland.

In a typical year, Morgan graduates more than two-thirds of the state’s African-American civil engineers; 60 percent of its African-American electrical engineers; 80 percent of its African-American telecommunications specialists; more than one-third of its African-American mathematicians; and all of Maryland’s African-American industrial engineers and physicists.

That is a record of which to be proud of and it is one of the reasons NASA chose Morgan as a major research partner.

The story of Morgan…the story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America … is the story of overcoming overwhelming odds to give African American students the opportunity to reach their full potential.

President Obama envisions an America that works for everyone, where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules. He described it last night as an America Built to Last.

Morgan State and its students will surely be among the engineers and architects of that dream.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is shown a demonstration of the Air Traffic Management System by Morgan State University student Renee Etoty in the University’s Engineering Visualization Research Laboratory on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012, in Baltimore. Bolden visited Morgan State to help highlight the importance of science, engineering and mathematics in creating and sustaining the American economy. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A Special Commemoration in Atlanta

Today it was my privilege to bring greetings from the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to the 44th Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.

I have had a few out-of-this world experiences, but I must say that standing in the pulpit where Dr. King, Daddy King and now Rev. Warnock, the church’s current pastor, have inspired so many, was an out-of-body experience for me.

I brought the audience in that historic building and every person watching it on television greetings from the First Family: President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Malia and Sasha. Like me, they are all proud children of Dr. King’s sacrifice. They have brought his ideals, his faith and his steadfast commitment to building the “beloved community” into the White House.

While Dr. King’s influence and teachings have reached every corner of this globe, today he and Coretta’s children are also testament to their parents’ love and commitment to family. As many of you are quite aware by now, I grew up about 200 miles from Atlanta, in Columbia, South Carolina. My mother, wife, and daughter are all products of college and post-graduate education in Atlanta – at Atlanta University, Spelman, and Georgia Tech. Many of the values I have brought to my professional life, I also got from my parents…being bold and being fearless, and not allowing what other people think or say deter me from doing what is right. They taught me not to just sit on the sideline of life, but to strive to turn my passion and dreams into reality. My parents were greatly inspired by the tenets of Dr. King.

While I treasure the inspiration I received today, I hope the NASA Family and our extended circle of friends around the world will also be inspired by Dr. King’s example and do something today to make the world a better place.

To watch all of today’s presentations at Ebenezer in honor of Dr. King, visit:



President Recognizes NASA Employee at White House

NASA has been recognized nationally as an innovator once again.

The White House established the Presidential Securing Americans’ Value and Efficiency (SAVE) program in 2009 to give front-line federal workers the chance to submit their ideas on how their agencies can save money and work more efficiently.

After nearly 20,000 ideas were submitted and more that 48,000 votes were cast, Matthew Ritsko, a financial manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., won the 2011 SAVE award. He was congratulated today at the White House by President Obama.

Matthew’s proposal calls for NASA to create a “lending library” where specialized space tools and hardware purchased by one NASA organization will be made available to other NASA programs and projects.

The NASA family comprises some of the most innovative and creative people in government, and we’re pleased that Matthew’s simple idea can help our nation’s space program be more efficient and get more bang for the taxpayer’s buck. I congratulate Matthew and all the NASA employees who submitted SAVE ideas. Keep them coming! We are always open to the fresh insights of NASA employees in every capacity across the nation. You’re helping us reach for new destinations and making it easier to meet the big challenges we are privileged to tackle for the nation.




NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Financial Manager and White House 2011 SAVE award winner Matthew Ritsko is seen during a television interview at NASA Headquarters shortly after meeting with President Obama at the White House on Monday, Jan. 9, 2011. The Presidential Securing Americans’ Value and Efficiency (SAVE) program gives front-line federal workers the chance to submit their ideas on how their agencies can save money and work more efficiently. Matthew’s proposal calls for NASA to create a “lending library” where specialized space tools and hardware purchased by one NASA organization will be made available to other NASA programs and projects. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)