Facility for Innovative Atmospheric Research and Education | Sitting Bull College

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Facility for Innovative Atmospheric Research and Education

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Sitting Bull College (SBC) in Ft. Yates, ND has received a grant award from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) under the Minority Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) program. The award of 1.3 million dollars will be spread out over a period of three years. SBC will work cooperatively with NASA to develop an atmospheric monitoring station in Ft. Yates. SBC students in our science and engineering programs will be trained by NASA in the use of instrumentation for monitoring atmospheric gases and pollutants. Students will also be trained to obtain and analyze data on ambient air quality from NASA satellites that are monitoring the earth’s atmosphere.

Dr. Gary Halvorson, instructor in Environmental Science at SBC, will be the Principal Investigator of the award. The science students at SBC are required to complete a research project for their AS and BS degree programs and will be able to use scientific data acquired from the monitoring station for their research projects. Students in the MS degree program at SBC will be able to complete their thesis research on atmospheric science topics.

The monitoring station will be known as the SBC Facility for Innovative Atmospheric Research and Education (FIARE). NASA is interested in having a monitoring station at this site, because we are in the middle of a large area of the United States without such a ground based monitoring station. Both NASA and SBC will benefit from the data obtained from the FIARE.

We will be working closely with personnel from NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. They will provide training for our students in data acquisition and analyses of atmospheric data. Our students will have opportunities for 10-16 week internships at Langley or Goddard for more extensive training. We will also be working closely with the Atmospheric Science Department at the University of North Dakota. UND will help us with setting up the FIARE and maintenance of the equipment. We also hope to work closely with UND faculty and graduate students to help with teaching atmospheric science courses and help in data analyses. Our Standing Rock EPA will work closely with us and will benefit from increased capabilities in monitoring atmospheric pollutants and other gases.

This program is a NASA pilot program that will, hopefully, lead to further funding not only for SBC, but also other Tribal Colleges. SBC is actively recruiting local students and students from other Tribal Colleges for our MS degree in Environmental Science. Our next cohort of MS students will begin in the fall of 2020. Training our students in these skills will prepare them for jobs locally and for positions with NASA.

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1973: Sitting Bull College begins as Standing Rock Community College, chartered by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. In 1975, the Accreditation process begins, and in 1984 the College receives full accreditation and offers Associates degrees.

2007: The College receives approval to offer a Bachelors of Science degree in Environmental Science.

2014: The College receives approval to offer a Master’s degree in Environmental Science. The first M.S. cohort begins.

Sitting Bull College submits its first NASA Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) Institutional Research Opportunity (MIRO) proposal to expand into atmospheric science.

2015: The second successful Sitting Bull College internship focused on atmospheric science in conjunction with NASA LaRC results in the installation of a North Dakota Agricultural Weather Network (NDAWN) Weather Station at Sitting Bull College.

2016: The first Environmental Science M.S. cohort graduates.

2019: NASA selects the Navajo Technical University (NTU) and Sitting Bull College (SBC) as MUREP MIRO recipients. SBC receives more than $1 million through NASA’s MIRO and MUREP for American Indian Alaska Native STEM Engagement, also known as MAIANSE, a collaborative pilot program. SBC is selected for its submission centered on air quality research, environmental technology and education on the Standing Rock Reservation.

2020: Sitting Bull College launches its first atmospheric science undergraduate and graduate courses.

The first Environmental Science M.S. focused on Atmospheric Science cohort begins.

2021: Construction is expected to be complete on the Facility for Innovative Atmospheric Research and Education (FIARE).

2022: The first Environmental Science M.S. focused on Atmospheric Science cohort is expected to graduate.