out of this world education

Houston university system cuts the ribbon on its spaceport training center

San Jacinto College celebrated the grand opening of its EDGE Center in the Houston Spaceport. Photo courtesy of San Jacinto

A new facility focused on training the professionals who will build the future of aerospace has officially opened at the Houston Spaceport.

The San Jacinto College EDGE Center, which broke ground in July of 2019, finally celebrated its grand opening of the EDGE Center Friday, Oct. 1, with elected officials, community members, faculty, and staff. The center's opening celebration was previously delayed due to COVID-19.

"With this facility, we will inspire, innovate, and train the talent needed at the Houston Spaceport," says Chancellor Brenda Hellyer in a press release. "Our industry partners developed the program and defined the skills needed for these evolving careers. You can feel the passion and excitement as you walk through the training area."

EDGE is just one part of the 154 acres of development currently in the works at Ellington Airport. The full property includes 450 acres that will all eventually be developed. Students have been working out of the center for about a year now, and San Jacinto College is the official education training partner for the Houston Spaceport at Ellington Airport.

"This facility is at the epicenter of the Houston Spaceport," said Mario Diaz, director of aviation at Houston Airport System in the release. "This is where the next chapter of the rivalry to space will be written by the minds and hands of Houstonians for generations to come. The talent who will learn how to build towards the future of space exploration starts right here at the EDGE Center."

The facility offers five training programs, including aerospace structure technician, aerospace electrical technician, composite technician, industrial automation technician, and aerospace quality technician. The center also offers a drone program preparing individuals for FAA certifications as well as a drone flight class and a drone build class.

Intuitive Machines, a Houston-based space tech company, is based in the Houston Spaceport nearby EDGE and, according to the release, has had several of the program's first graduates work for his company as they develop the next lunar lander. One student, Cyrus Shy, took an internship and has already accepted a full-time technician position with the company.

"The impact this program and Intuitive Machines has had on my life has been overwhelmingly incredible," says Shy in the release. "It has changed the trajectory of my life. I work for a company that care about each other and work toward a common goal."

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Building Houston

 
 

Nancy and Rich Kinder gifted $50M to their eponymous center. Photo courtesy

Houston’s most generous couple has once again gifted a massive sum to a local institution. Rich and Nancy Kinder’s Kinder Foundation has donated $50 million to Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the organization announced.

The Kinder's generous grant will assist the institute’s focus on what it dubs “inclusive prosperity” — that is, “ensuring that everyone can contribute to Houston's success and share in its opportunities.”

This new grant follows the approximately $30 million he Kinder Foundation previously gifted Rice’s Kinder Institute and its affiliates to facilitate its headquarters.

“Over the past decade, the Kinder Institute has played an integral role in shaping Houston,” said Rich Kinder, chairman of the Kinder Foundation. “However, we can do more to inform and more directly address the challenges our communities face, particularly in the areas of housing, education, economic mobility, health and population research.”

To that end, the Kinders’ funds will ensure the institute can assist its partners regardless of their ability to pay for research. Funds will also help the institute respond to community research needs quickly during times of crisis — such as a catastrophic storm or pandemic — when funds aren’t readily available.

Kinder Institute director Ruth López Turley calls the grant “a gift to all of Houston,” speaking to the institute’s work to improve lives through data, research, engagement and action.

“Inclusive prosperity doesn’t just happen spontaneously,” she noted in a statement. “It requires an explicit effort informed by research. Lots of organizations are working hard to make things better, but most of them have very limited research capacity, and that’s what the Kinder Institute is primed to do.”

Founded in 2010, the institute has evolved into a leader in research, data, and policy analysis of critical issues such as housing, transportation, and education. The institute also releases the familiar Kinder Houston Area Survey, which charts significant changes in the way area residents perceive and understand Houston’s ongoing challenges and opportunities.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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