Thomas Craig – Champaign/Urbana News

CHAMPAIGN – Thomas Edward Craig, 58, of Champaign passed away at 3:59 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017, at the Champaign Urbana Nursing Rehab Facility.

He was born on June 12, 1958, in Urbana, the son of Wayne and Millie (Triplett) Craig, both deceased. Through his journey, Tom met Mary Munoz and her daughter Laura of Urbana. They became a family when Tom and Mary married on June 18, 2010. Mary and Laura both survive.

He will be missed by brother, Bill (Vicki) Craig; sister, Trish (Jeff) Craig; and his nieces and nephews, who all loved their uncle.

Tom was a 1976 graduate of Champaign Central High School and received a certificate in industrial technologies from Parkland College where he began his career in operating various precision machines.

He had many different machinist jobs as he built his knowledge base starting at Deedrik’s Machine Inc. in Sadorus. He later began work at Hansvedt Engineering in Urbana. He was very proud of the work he participated in while at Hansvedt. During that time in the mid-1980s, he was part of the team that manufactured parts that went into the containment vessel of the particle accelerator at Fermi National Laboratory in Batavia. At that time, this was the largest research project in the world as the Fermi researchers were attempting to find “quarks,” which they later did.

For the last 14 years, Tom worked as a CNC operator and supervisor at Altamont Manufacturing in Thomasboro. His Altamont family was very special to him and supported him tremendously during his illness. He will be missed greatly by all who worked with and knew him.

At home, Tom loved nothing more than to be out in his yard, usually accompanied by his best friend Fluffy the cat. He loved cooking on the grill and his smoker, and talked all of the time about eating a great steak or a rack of ribs.

He also enjoyed his neighbors and would often be found helping with an outdoor project of just offering up an opinion or three on how something should be done. He loved anything with a motor or an engine.

In his youth, he was one of many in the neighborhood who had a mini-bike and he eventually advanced to doing some motocross racing. He shared a passion for radio control airplanes with his dad and they both spent thousands of hours building and flying model airplanes and helicopters and attending the annual Oshkosh Wisconsin air show whenever possible.

Tom won several awards for his overall workmanship and attention to detail, no doubt learned in his machinist career. He was also a great fan of NASCAR and NHRA Drag Racing. Attending the NHRA finals each fall in Indiana was a treasured activity.

Tom was a lifetime member of the AMA (American Modelers Association), having joined at the age of 14, and the CCRCC (Champaign County Radio Control Club). He and his dad could be found at the flying field or otherwise talking “shop” with other enthusiasts whenever possible. Tom was an accomplished pilot and a meticulous builder of radio control model airplanes.

A celebration of life will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at Grave Church, Mahomet. Visitation will be from 10 to 11:30 a.m. prior to the service.

Sunset Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.

Please join Tom’s family in sharing photos, videos and memories through his tribute wall at

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Citron: Trump Is To Aerospace What Hillary Was To Pharma; Warns On TDG

President Donald Trump is as risky for the aerospace industry as Hillary Clinton was to drug manufacturers, according to a report Friday from a noted short seller, which also warned on aerospace supplier TransDigm‘s (TDG).

“President Trump has promised to end the long-standing, infuriating tradition of ‘sticking the US Government with tab,’ ” Citron Research said in a note. “He has already made lowering prices for military aircraft a pillar of his transition into office.”

During his transition, Trump took to Twitter (TWTR) to call out Boeing (BA) and Lockheed Martin (LMT) over high costs for Air Force One and the F-35 program respectively.

After meeting with Trump, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the company could build a new Air Force One for under $4 billion.

Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson said after her meeting with Trump that an upcoming contract for the next batch of F-35 fighters will create thousands of jobs and that the company is near a deal for 90 additional F-35s that will “significantly” reduce the costs.

Last month, the Pentagon’s program office said that costs would likely come down “6%-7%” for the 10th batch of fighters.

Boeing shares rose 0.3% to 159.53 on the stock market today. Lockheed shares climbed 0.3% to 257.73.

But Boeing and Lockheed likely won’t be the last aerospace companies that Trump targets. Citron wrote that TransDigm’s business model relies too much on raising prices to turn a profit, potentially putting it in Trump’s cross hairs in the future.

The company “acquires airplane parts companies (over 50 in total), fires employees, and egregiously raises prices” just like drugmaker Valeant (VRX), Citron claimed.

TransDigm didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Shares plunged 9.9% to 226.90.

TransDigm is a major supplier to Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman (NOC), Raytheon (RTN) and other aerospace giants.

IBD’S TAKE: The littoral combat ship, nuclear missiles and Northrop’s B-21 are other defense programs Trump could take aim at next.

Despite the perception that Trump would be friendlier to the drug industry than Clinton would have been, Trump has recently accused drugmakers of “getting away with murder” on prices and has vowed to lower them.


Navy: Lockheed F-35 ‘On A Completely Different Level’ Vs. Super Hornet

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Wall Street has found a company that Donald Trump would love to beat up on

(Andrew Left.Bloomberg)

  • TransDigm Group is an airplane-parts maker that counts Boeing as one of its largest clients.
  • The company’s growth depends on debt-fueled acquisitions.
  • After it acquires a company that makes unique aerospace parts, it raises the price of those parts.
  • On Thursday, the stock’s price closed at $251, but Citron Research thinks it should be hovering around $166.

Since his election to the office of the president of the United States, Donald Trump has spent much of his time tweeting threats to US companies that do things he doesn’t like.

There are a handful of things Trump doesn’t like about corporate America, but for our purposes, we’ll focus on just one: companies that charge the government entirely too much money.

In December, he hit Boeing, which makes the president’s Air Force One 747 jet, over this.

“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order,” he tweeted.

It’s his jet, so we suppose he can tweet about it, but he should know that for weeks, the short sellers on Wall Street — investors who bet on a decline in share prices — have been whispering about a company that they say has a firm hand in making all things Boeing so expensive.


It’s airplane-part manufacturer TransDigm Group.

On Friday, one of these short sellers, Andrew Left of Citron Research, published a report outlining how it inflates prices in its sector and comparing it to another target of his, Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

“TransDigm’s business model is to aerospace as Valeant was to the pharmaceutical industry,” Left wrote. “TransDigm acquires airplane parts companies (over 50 in total), fires employees, and egregiously raises prices. This business model has made them a dominant supplier of airplane parts to the aerospace industry while burdening its balance sheet with sky-high debt load: in fact, 6.5x EBITDA leverage.”

What Left is a describing is also known as a “roll-up,” a company that needs to make acquisitions to survive. The short version is that once it acquires a company, it uses price hikes on old products to finance its growing pile of deal debt.

(Markets Insider)

The result is that it is adding entirely too much to the cost of airplanes made by Boeing, including the iconic 747. Some analysts have wondered if Boeing is actually working on ways to cut TDG out as a result.

As Left wrote, if there’s a hint of familiarity here, it’s because this is exactly what some drugmakers — namely Valeant — have landed in a lot of hot water for lately. Attacks on Valeant helped knock a whopping 90% off its stock price.

TDG ended trading Thursday at $251 apiece, giving the company a market value of over $13 billion. Left thinks the stock is worth closer to $166 a share.

TDG didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment for this story, but we’ll update as soon as it does.

The chief

That TDG, according to Left, is a roll-up, a company that grows only by acquiring other companies, is not what would bother Trump — it’s what happens after that. After TDG buys generally low-priced, proprietary aerospace products, it jacks up their prices.

Here’s how researchers at Capitol Forum put it in a recent note:

“Since TransDigm is often in a position where it the only manufacturer for a part that a company needs, it can charge prices that result in gross margins of 80-95%, according to our source who worked at Aerosonic, and price increases are one of TransDigm’s most important internal key metrics.”

Some examples: TDG purchased Aerosonic’s vibration panel and raised the price from $67.33 to $271, according to the Capitol Forum note. It bought Harco’s Cable Assembly and raised the price from $1,737.03 to $7,863.60.

You get the picture.

And it gets worse. Once TDG can’t raise prices anymore, it tends to boost its profits further by laying people off. We know how much Trump loves that.

Now, it’s true that price hikes by an airplane-parts company aren’t going to cause the public outrage that we saw with drugmakers. And this is all stuff that flew under the radar during most of Barack Obama’s administration.

But risk No. 1 is that customers are starting to wake up — Boeing included. Last November, it hired Kevin McAllister from GE Aviation Services to run its commercial airplane business. Analysts at Cowen and Company took that as a sign that Boeing is going to try to rein in the cost of TDG parts.

“In recent years, Boeing management has signaled a stronger thrust into capturing aftermarket business,” Cowen’s analysts wrote in a November note. “Our checks indicate some effort at Boeing to redesign certain TDG products that are sole-sourced.”

This is significant to TDG’s bottom line. In 2016, Boeing was TDG’s second-largest customer, making up 12% of its revenue, according to government filings. US government defense programs, according to Capitol Forum, make up 18-23% of TDG’s revenue.

The treadmill

Though it’s embarrassing, potentially spurring a Trump tweet is not the only reason TDG raises eyebrows among short sellers like Left. As with all roll-ups, ultimately you have to look under the hood and see where the company would be without aggressive accounting.

To put it simply, roll-up companies don’t account for the cost of doing the deal.

(TransDigm financial statements)
“Our reported EBITDA as Defined margin was strong at 47.1%, and the margins in our core businesses once again improved year over year, reflecting the power of our consistent value generation strategy,” W. Nicholas Howley, TDG’s CEO, president, and chairman, said in his year-end report (emphasis ours).

“EBITDA as Defined” means excluding many costs of doing the acquisitions. In 2016, acquisition-based adjustments added $57.7 million to TDG’s $1.5 billion EBITDA.

This game is over if TDG is unable to acquire more companies, whether that’s because the buying opportunities aren’t out there or because deals are too expensive. (Remember, interest rates are going up.)

The ball and chain

Another important thing to note about all these acquisitions is that they’ve added significantly to TDG’s debt; it’s holding more than $6 billion. This has raised some eyebrows on Wall Street, specifically from the debt-ratings agency Moody’s, which cited this debt in its rationalization for TDG’s rating.

From Moody’s (emphasis ours):

“During 2016, TransDigm incurred a substantial amount of indebtedness — well beyond the bounds of internally generated cash flow — to fund a large-sized special dividend to shareholders and to finance the company’s aggressive acquisition strategy.

“This resulted in very high financial leverage with September 2016 Moody’s adjusted debt-to-EBITDA of around 7.5x. Over the next few quarters, Moody’s expects TransDigm to deliver to more sustainable levels through continued earnings growth and any near-term leveraging transaction would likely result in downward rating pressure.”

So, like a lot of roll-ups, TDG will eventually have to prove that it can make money without acquiring companies. And if Trump is paying attention, they may have to do it without jacking up prices or laying off workers, too.

Some business model.

NOW WATCH: Watch President Obama tear up while addressing Michelle in his farewell speech

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Model airplanes are Crosslake man’s hobby for 70 years: Dorweiler has high hopes for micro airplane club

But one recreational activity the community lacks space for, especially in the winter, is flying model airplanes. That’s why Crosslake’s Paul Dorweiler is working to establish a local micro airplane club. This group would allow members to fly small planes around the gymnasium at the Crosslake Community Center.

“What I’m trying to do is get the community center to … let me fly in there, and hopefully I can attract some other people who are interested,” Dorweiler said.

The retired writer considers himself a model plane enthusiast and has dabbled in the art of making and flying planes for roughly 70 years.

“When I was 10 years old I got into it. At that time you could go to the store and buy a 10-cent airplane – a little rubber band wind-up airplane,” Dorweiler said. “And you could buy kits for a nickel 70 years ago.”

As Dorweiler got older, he began building his own planes and fitting them with electronic radios to make them fly, a skill he taught himself over the years.

“I just picked it up over a period of time. And then you get together with other guys and see what they’re doing,” he said. “When you’ve been at it for … 70 years, you pick things up.”

Sticking with any hobby for that long takes commitment, but Dorweiler attributes his dedication to the ever-changing world of technology.

“It’s something new all the time, especially the electronic end of it,” he said. “Because it’s changing all the time, it keeps your interest … but you’ve got to keep at it. If you stop monkeying with it for a year, you’d be lost.”

That interest has grown into Dorweiler’s collection of about 20 model planes in various sizes, most of which he built himself.

It also led to the hobby shop he ran in the 1990s in Crosslake called Paul’s Planes and Parts, which was devoted to gas-powered model planes.

“I sold airplanes and airplane parts, motors, gas,” Dorweiler said. “But the internet kind of put me out of business.”

His client base dwindled when customers found they could shop online and have their planes and parts delivered to their doorstep.

“They wouldn’t have to drive over here. Then when their airplane broke, then they’d come over and I’d have to fix it for them,” Dorweiler joked. “And I sold them parts. They were always breaking something … but after a while it just got to where it wasn’t worthwhile.”

Dorweiler’s own planes then became his main focus. His favorite models are the planes where he has replaced the wheels with floats so he can fly them on lakes in the summer.

“I love to fly the float planes. That’s my passion,” he said. “I build all winter and fly in the summer mostly.”

With Minnesota’s windy, snowy weather deterring outdoor flying this time of year, Dorweiler has been itching to find an indoor environment where he can enjoy his small micro planes in the winter, which is why he’s trying to commandeer a gymnasium.

“When you talk about micro airplanes, you’re generally talking about something that’s well under a pound in weight and probably less than two feet in width as far as the wingspan goes,” he said, adding that their small size makes them perfect to fly indoors if he can find a big enough space.

That’s where the Crosslake Community Center may come in handy. Plans for a micro airplane club aren’t certain yet, but Dorweiler is excited at the possibility of having an indoor fly zone.

He is also willing to teach others to fly model planes and urges anyone interested in the club to call the community center.

“I think a lot of people would welcome having that (micro airplane club) and having it available,” he said. “

Airplanes have been a constant in Dorweiler’s life for many years, even though his journey has taken him to many places and down numerous career paths. With a degree in engineering from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, he has authored books about electronics and worked as managing editor for a magazine called “Electronic Technician.” He also found himself working as a charter captain on Lake Superior, as a deputy for the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office and in a senior center in the Twin Cities. The magazine work even took him to Hollywood, where he met legends like John Wayne and Ward Bond.

But certain interests have always taken a front seat.

“It’s always been electronics and writing and, of course, airplanes,” Dorweiler said. “No matter where I was or what I did, I always had airplanes.”

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Happy New Year

NASA Education Express Message — Dec. 29, 2016

Status Report
From: NASA Education Office
Posted: Thursday, December 29, 2016

Free Education Webinars From NASA Educator Professional Development
Audience: In-service, Pre-service, Home School and Informal Educators
Next Event Date: Jan. 3, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. EST

Free Educator Professional Development Workshops From NASA’s Stennis Space Center Office of Education
Audience: In-service, Pre-service, Home School and Informal Educators
Next Event Date: Jan. 26, 2017, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. CST
Workshop Location: Infinity Science Center in Pearlington, Mississippi

NASA’s DIVER (Diving into Experiment Research) Challenge
Audience: 9-12 Students
Proposal Deadline: Feb. 1, 2017

Call for Proposals — Research Projects on Determinants of Life Expectancy by Income and Geography, and Implications for Social Security Policy
Audience: Higher Education Faculty and Students
Application Deadline: Feb. 1, 2017

Be a Citizen Scientist With the ‘Aurorasaurus’ Project
Audience: All Educators and Students
Project Timeframe: Ongoing


Sign Up for NASA Education ‘Science WOW!’ Weekly Email Newsletter
Audience: All Educators and Students

Modern Figures Toolkit: Activities and Resources Related to Katherine Johnson and Human Computers
Audience: K-12 Educators

2017 Space Exploration Educators Conference
Audience: K-12 Educators
Early Bird Registration Deadline: Dec. 30, 2016
Event Date: Feb. 9-11, 2017

NASA’s Langley Research Center Centennial Student Art Contest
Audience: K-12 Students
Entry Period: Nov. 1 – Dec. 31, 2016

2017 Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut “Walk to the Moon” Challenge
Audience: All Educators and Students, Home School Parents and After-school Groups
Registration Deadline: Dec. 31, 2016
Challenge Dates: Jan. 12 – April 28, 2017

Center for Astronomy Education Regional Teaching Exchanges and Workshops — Fall/Winter 2016-2017
Audience: Current and Future College Instructors of Astronomy
Next Event Date: Jan. 4, 2017

Free Program — Cubes in SpaceTM
Audience: Students Ages 11-18 and Their Teachers
Registration Deadline: Jan. 6, 2017

Space Shuttle Thermal Protective Tiles and Blankets Available for Educational Use
Audience: Educational Institutions, Museums and Other Education Organizations

NASA’s Digital Learning Network Event – Virtual Field Trip to Kennedy Space Center
Audience: Educators and Students in Grades 5-12
Event Date: Jan. 12, 2017

Research Grants: Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research
Audience: Researchers at Academic Institutions in Developing Countries
Application Deadline: Jan. 13, 2017

Free Educator Workshop: Earth Science Workshop
Audience: Formal and Informal Educators of Grades K-8
Event Date: Jan. 14, 2017, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. PST

Free Educator Workshop — Solar System and Beyond: Modern Figures
Audience: K-12 and Informal Educators
Event Dates: Jan. 18, 2017, 4:30-6 p.m. PST

2017 RASC-AL Aerospace Concepts Design Competition
Audience: Higher Education Students
Abstract Submission Deadline: Jan. 19, 2017

Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowships for Early Career Researchers
Audience: Researchers Who Have Received a Ph.D. in the Last Eight Years
Notice of Intent Deadline: Jan. 20, 2017
Proposal Deadline: March 17, 2017

Future Engineers Mars Medical Challenge
Audience: Educators and Students Ages 5 to 19
Entry Deadline: Jan. 25, 2017

National Science Foundation’s Mathematical Sciences Graduate Internship Program
Audience: Mathematical Sciences Doctoral Students
Application Deadline: March 1, 2017
Call for Submissions — NASA Announcement for High Impact / Broad Implementation STEM Education Partnerships (EDUCATION01SP16)
Audience: Education Institutions and Organizations
Applications Accepted on a Rolling Basis Through Dec. 31, 2017

Searchable Portals for Federally Sponsored Opportunities for STEM Undergraduate and Graduate Students
Audience: Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students and Higher Education Institutions

Don’t miss out on upcoming NASA education opportunities.
For a full list of events, opportunities and more, visit the Educator and Student Current Opportunity pages on NASA’s website:
— Educators
— Students

Free Education Webinars From NASA Educator Professional Development

The NASA STEM Educator Professional Development Collaborative at Texas State University is presenting a series of free webinars open to all educators. Join NASA education specialists to learn about activities, lesson plans, educator guides and resources that bring NASA into your classroom. Registration is required to participate. To register, simply click on the link provided beneath the webinar description.

Don’t Count NASA Out of Your Math Classes: Mass vs. Weight
Audience: Pre-service, In-service, Home School and Informal Educators of Grades K-12
Event Date: Jan. 3, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. EST
Learn about hands-on, standards-aligned activities comparing mass and weight. Participants will learn about the microgravity environment of the International Space Station. This webinar addresses Common Core Math Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards ESS1 and ESS2. Register online to participate.

Aeronautics — Come Fly With Us: Balloons and Kites for Elementary Educators
Audience: Pre-service, In-service, Home School and Informal Educators of Grades K-5
Event Date: Jan. 4, 2017, at 4 p.m. EST
Explore NASA’s “The Courage to Soar” educator guide. Learn about education activities on flight that relate to science, math, language arts, engineering design and art. Participants will discuss the history of kites and balloons. Register online to participate.

Aeronautics — Come Fly With Us: Flying Things in Your Classroom
Audience: Pre-service, In-service, Home School and Informal Educators of Grades 4-8
Event Date: Jan. 5, 2017, at 6 p.m. EST
Explore the principles and physics of flight by flying things in your classroom. Use NASA online resources and simple, inexpensive STEM classroom activities and design challenges to investigate the parts of an airplane, what makes an airplane fly, and how to model aircraft that can fly in your classroom. Register online to participate.

For a full schedule of upcoming NASA Educator Professional Development webinars, visit

Questions about this series of webinars should be directed to Steve Culivan at

Free Educator Professional Development Workshops From NASA’s Stennis Space Center Office of Education

NASA’s Stennis Space Center Office of Education is presenting a series of free science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, educator professional development workshops open to all educators. Join NASA education specialists to learn about activities, lesson plans, educator guides and resources that bring NASA into your classroom.

Journey to Mars
Audience: Grades 4-8, In-service, Informal and Pre-service Educators
Registration Deadline: Jan. 22, 2017 (maximum of 30 participants)
Event Date: Jan. 26, 2017, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. CST
Launch an investigation into the Red Planet using Earth and Mars comparisons, models, and engineering design. This workshop will integrate NASA online resources and STEM classroom activities, including those from NASA’s “Modern Figures” campaign. “Modern Figures” activities highlight the contributions made by the African American women called “human computers,” as seen in the new movie “Hidden Figures.” The workshop will be presented at the Infinity Science Center in Pearlington, Mississippi. (Map).
Register Online:

NASA Aeronautics: The Science of Flight
Audience: Grades 4-8, In-service, Informal and Pre-service Educators
Registration Deadline: Feb. 19, 2017 (maximum of 30 participants)
Event Date: Feb. 23, 2017, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. CST
Explore basic principles of flight, construct aircraft models, and use the engineering design process to make these activities educationally challenging. NASA aeronautics technology will be introduced. Learn how these inquiry-based lessons can help students develop concepts, practice data analysis skills, and relate their investigations to real-world applications. The workshop will be presented at the Infinity Science Center in Pearlington, Mississippi. (Map).
Register Online:

Keesler Air Force Base (Hurricane Hunters) and NASA: Weather and Hurricanes
Audience: Grades 4-8, In-service, Informal and Pre-service Educators
Registration Deadline: March 26, 2017 (maximum of 30 participants)
Event Date: March 30, 2017, 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. CDT
Learn about the role of the Air Force and NASA in our understanding and forecasting of weather, climate, hurricanes and their effects on Earth’s systems. Air Force and NASA data, STEM curriculum resources, and tours will guide participants through classroom activities and learning strategies. The workshop will be presented at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. (Map). *Registration is restricted to US citizens only*
Register Online:

For more information on the upcoming NASA Educator Professional Development workshops, email Aprill McIntosh at

NASA’s DIVER (Diving into Experiment Research) Challenge

NASA and the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research, or ASGSR, are challenging high school students to design and build an object that will float in water in normal gravity but will submerge in water as far as possible when exposed to microgravity.

After student proposals are evaluated, selected teams will have their objects tested in NASA’s 2.2 Second Drop Tower at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Ohio. Teams are only responsible for their diving objects. NASA will provide the rest of the experimental hardware and interact with teams remotely during testing.

The winning DIVER teams will have the opportunity to present their results in a student poster session at ASGSR’s 2017 conference in Seattle, Washington, in October 2017.

Proposals are due Feb. 1, 2017.

For more information about this opportunity, visit

Please email questions about this opportunity to

Call for Proposals — Research Projects on Determinants of Life Expectancy by Income and Geography, and Implications for Social Security Policy

The National Bureau for Economic Research seeks applications for pilot research projects that deepen our understanding of the mechanisms explaining geographic variation in the relationship between income and life expectancy in the United States. Research projects will use recently released statistics from the Health Inequality Project. With funding support from the Social Security Administration through the NBER Retirement Research Center, the NBER encourages proposals for projects that use the new data to better understand the reasons for the strong relationship between income and life expectancy, its geographic variability, and its implications for interventions and policy.

Applications will be accepted from junior faculty, postdoctoral fellows and doctoral students. Individuals and research teams are eligible to apply. NBER expects to fund five to seven proposals.

Applications are due Feb. 1, 2017.

For more information about this opportunity, visit

Please email questions about this opportunity to

Be a Citizen Scientist With the ‘Aurorasaurus’ Project

Aurorasaurus is the first and only citizen science project that tracks auroras around the world via online reports, mobile apps and social media.

Aurorasaurus is a citizen science project that gathers real-time data about aurora sightings and sends out notifications to users when the northern or southern lights are likely visible in their area. Registered users get location-based notifications and a real-time monitor of space weather activity. The project also allows users to help verify tweets and search for real sightings. Plus, the website features answers to science and aurora questions.

To learn more, visit

Please direct questions about this project to

This project receives support from the National Science Foundation and NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.

Sign Up for NASA Education ‘Science WOW!’ Weekly Email Newsletter

Are you a science educator or interested in science education? Sign up for the NASA Education “Science WOW!” newsletter. Receive an email with NASA’s latest science education offerings delivered “Weekly on Wednesdays.”

Science starts with a question, and so does “Science WOW!” Each week’s message kicks off with a science question and a link to where you can find the answer. “Science WOW!” also highlights an awesome science education tool each week. These featured resources will include NASA apps, interactive games, 3-D printing templates and more!

Plus, “Science WOW!” delivers — right to your inbox — the latest science education opportunities offered by NASA. It’s a simple way to keep up with the latest professional development webinars, student contests, workshops, lectures and other activities.

To register your email address and be added to the list, visit

Modern Figures Toolkit: Activities and Resources Related to Katherine Johnson and Human Computers

In the 1960’s, the U.S. was on an ambitious journey to the moon, and Katherine Johnson and her fellow human computers helped get NASA there. Bring the excitement of their story to your classroom with the Modern Figures Toolkit.

The Modern Figures Toolkit is a collection of resources and educational activities for students in grades K-12. Each educational activity and resource includes a brief description, as well as information about how the activities and lessons align to education standards. Resources highlighted include videos, historical references and STEM materials.

Bring Katherine Johnson’s inspiring story to your classroom by downloading the Modern Figures Toolkit at

2017 Space Exploration Educators Conference

Make plans to attend the 23rd Annual Space Exploration Educators Conference to be held Feb. 9-11, 2017, at Space Center Houston. This conference is for all K-12 educators. Activities presented use space-related themes to teach across the curricula. The activities may be used for science, language arts, mathematics, history and more.

Attend sessions hosted by scientists and engineers working on exciting projects like the International Space Station and the exploration of Mars and other parts of our solar system. Hear from astronauts who will be “leading the charge” in exploration. Attend sessions presented by educators and receive ready-to-implement classroom ideas. Attendees can earn up to 24 hours of continuing professional education credit.

For discounted registration, sign up to attend before the Early Bird Registration deadline on Dec. 30, 2016!

For more information, visit

Please email any questions about the conference to

NASA’s Langley Research Center Centennial Student Art Contest

Calling all artists, grades K-12!

On July 17, 2017, NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, will turn 100 years old! To celebrate, Langley invites you to take part in its Centennial Art Contest. The theme for this year’s contest is “A Storied Legacy, A Soaring Future.”

The contest is open to all children in grades K-12 who are attending public, private, parochial and homeschools in the United States. Artwork entries may consist of drawings, paintings, mixed media and digital creations.

A grand prize winner will be chosen from all contest entries. A first place winner will be chosen from each grade level, as well as second place, third place and honorable mention. Each entry will receive a certificate of participation.

The art contest submission period began on Nov. 1, 2016, and concludes on Dec. 31, 2016, at midnight EST.

For more information, visit

Please direct questions about this contest to Kristina Cors at

2017 Mission X: Train Like an Astronaut “Walk to the Moon” Challenge

Mission X encourages children of all ages, as well as people with particular needs, to pursue healthy lifestyles based on the model of training like an astronaut. During six- to nine-week “challenges” each fall and spring, schools and student groups from around the world complete Mission X classroom-based science lessons and physical education activities.

In 2017, Mission X is challenging Fit Explorers around the world to work together to perform activities that will move Astro Charlie the 478 million steps it would take to walk from Earth to the moon! That’s 238,857 miles, or 384,403 kilometers! At an average walking speed, that would take one person about nine years to complete.

The challenge kicks off in January. For full challenge details and to do your part to help reach this out-of-this-world goal, visit The deadline to register for this challenge is Dec. 31, 2016. You may apply for Team USA at

In 2016, Mission X was represented by 30 countries and more than 53,000 participants. The challenge was available in 17 languages.

Please direct questions about this opportunity to Nubia Carvajal at

Center for Astronomy Education Regional Teaching Exchanges and Workshops — Fall/Winter 2016-2017

NASA’s Center for Astronomy Education, or CAE, announces a series of regional teaching exchanges and workshops for astronomy and space science educators.

Teaching exchanges foster a sense of community among geographically linked current and future college instructors of astronomy. Regional experts from the broader CAE community are ready to provide the opportunity for you to meet your neighbors, expand your instructional repertoire and share your own expertise.

Workshops provide participants with experiences needed to create effective and productive active-learning classroom environments. Workshop leaders model best practices in implementing many different classroom-tested instructional strategies. But more importantly, workshop participants will gain first-hand experience implementing these proven strategies.

Jan. 4, 2017 — Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas
CAE Tier I Teaching Excellence Workshop — New Methods for Teaching About Exoplanets

Jan. 5, 2017 — Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas
CAE Tier I Teaching Excellence Workshop — New Methods for Teaching in the Flipped Classroom

For more information and to register for the teaching exchanges, visit

Inquiries about this series of events should be directed to Gina Brissenden at

CAE is funded through NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Exoplanet Exploration Program.

Free Program — Cubes in SpaceTM

Cubes in Space™ provides students ages 11-18 an opportunity to design and compete to launch an experiment into space at no cost! Cubes in Space™ is offered by idoodledu, inc., in partnership with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility, the Colorado Space Grant Consortium and NASA’s Langley Research Center.

This global education program based on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) enables students to learn about space exploration using innovative problem-solving and inquiry-based learning methods. Participants have access to resources that help prepare them to design and develop an experiment to be integrated into a small cube.

This year, experiments will be launched into space via sounding rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Virginia, in late June 2017 or from a high-altitude balloon launched from NASA’s Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, in August 2017.

The deadline for program registration is Jan. 6, 2017. For more information, visit Questions about this program may be directed to

About idoodedu inc.

idoodledu inc., a charitable nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is a wholly owned subsidiary of idoodlelearning inc., and was created in 2015 as a legal vehicle to bring public/private partnerships and publicly funded programs to all learners and educators. idoodlelearning inc. is an education company based in Ottawa, Canada; London, England; and Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA.

Space Shuttle Thermal Protective Tiles and Blankets Available for Educational Use

NASA invites U.S. educational institutions to request space shuttle thermal protective tiles, space shuttle thermal protective blankets, and other special items offered on a first-come, first-serve basis while quantities last. Organizations previously allocated thermal protective tiles may request an additional three tiles.

Nonprofit museums, libraries and planetariums (sponsored through their respective State Agency Surplus Property, or SASP, organization) are also eligible to make requests. Visit the link below for special instructions to request items. To find the contact information for the SASP representative for your area, visit

A nominal shipping fee must be paid online with a credit card. To make a request for special items online, visit

Please direct questions about this opportunity to

NASA’s Digital Learning Network Event – Virtual Field Trip to Kennedy Space Center

Join the education specialists of NASA’s Digital Learning Network as they travel to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 12, 2017. The multipart series of Virtual Field Trips will feature different landmarks and projects taking place at Kennedy.

Explore Kennedy Space Center during the following 30-minute sessions:

10 a.m. EST — Join DLN education specialists Caryn Long from NASA’s Langley Research Center and Lisa Ilowsky from NASA’s Ames Research Center to learn more about the Vehicle Assembly Building and Mobile Launch Pad.

Noon EST — Join DLN education specialists Lindsey Jones from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and Rachel Power from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to learn more about Kennedy’s Swamp Works project.

2 p.m. EST — Join DLN education specialists Kristy Brumfield from NASA’s Stennis Space Center and David Alexander from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center to learn more about the Orion and Crew Exploration Vehicle.

Up to three schools will be able to join DLN live and interactively during each of the three individual webcasts. To register for this opportunity, please complete the form found at Each school may request to participate in only one session.

Schools that are not selected to be a part of the interactive audience will be able to view the webcast event live at

For more information about this and other DLN events, visit

If you have any questions about this opportunity, please send them to

Research Grants: Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research

The Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research, or PEER, program is a competitive awards program that invites scientists in developing countries to apply for funds to support research and capacity-building activities on topics of importance to the United States Agency for International Development and conducted in partnership with U.S. government-supported and selected private sector partners.

PEER applicants who submit pre-proposals to PEER must be based at an academic institution, nonprofit organization, or government-managed research laboratory, center or institute in a PEER-eligible country. Applicants also must hold a career-track position or equivalent at their respective institution or organization. Applicants should be working in the country from which they are applying and should be nationals (citizens or permanent residents) of a PEER-eligible country for the focus area to which they are applying.

The deadline for submission of pre-proposals is Jan. 13, 2017. Pre-proposals should be completed through the PEER online application site no later than 11:59 p.m. (U.S. Eastern Standard Time) on that date.

For more information, visit

The PEER program is supported by the United States Agency for International Development and implemented by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Please direct questions about this opportunity to

Free Educator Workshop: Earth Science Workshop

Explore the impact of increasing global temperature on glaciers and sea level using real satellite data from NASA. Then, discover ways to turn these resources into engineering, mathematics and science lessons for students. Finally, learn to use the engineering design process to develop water-filtration and recycling systems to minimize our adverse impact on the water cycle.

Join NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Jan. 14, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. PST for this workshop at the von Kármán Auditorium at NASA’s JPL in Pasadena, California.

For more information and to register to attend, visit

Can’t make it to the workshop? Explore these lessons online at and

Please direct questions about this workshop to Paula Partida at

Free Educator Workshop — Solar System and Beyond: Modern Figures

Join the Office of Education of NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center for an educator professional development workshop as we look back at the history of human computers like Katherine Johnson and look forward toward exploration of the solar system. Learn about OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security – Regolith Explorer) on its search for asteroids using modern-day technology to calculate launch windows and orbits. Educators will engage in standards-aligned mathematics, science and engineering activities about launch windows, planetary orbits and robotics. Participants will receive hands-on activities for students that combine math, science, engineering and social studies.

The workshop will take place Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, 4:30-6 p.m. PST at NASA’s Armstrong Educator Resource Center at the AERO Institute in Palmdale, California.

For more information, visit

Please direct questions about this workshop to Sondra Geddes at

2017 RASC-AL Aerospace Concepts Design Competition

NASA and the National Institute of Aerospace announce the 2017 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts-Academic Linkage Aerospace Concepts competition. RASC-AL is a design project competition for university-level engineering students and faculty.

The 2017 RASC-AL competition challenges teams to develop new concepts that leverage innovations to improve our ability to work more effectively in microgravity, by responding to one of four themes:
— Lightweight Exercise Suite.
— Airlock Design.
— Commercially enabled LEO/Mars Habitable Module.
— Logistics Delivery System.

Potentially, NASA could implement concepts derived from the design projects.

Interested teams must submit an abstract for their proposed project by Jan. 19, 2017.

NEW THIS YEAR: As a part of the abstract proposal submission process, teams will be required to include a two-minute video. The intent is for the video to augment each team’s abstract proposal by including animation, graphics, or other creative ways of showcasing unique aspects of their proposed concept.

The 2017 RASC-AL Competition will implement a two-tiered down-select process. A steering committee of NASA and industry experts will evaluate the abstract and video proposals and select as many as 20 undergraduate or graduate teams to move to the next phase of the competition. Based on evaluation of five- to seven-page mid-project papers submitted by these teams in mid-March, the field will be narrowed once again to 12-16 teams who will be selected for the final round of the competition. The finalists will present their concepts to the panel of judges (the RASC-AL Steering Committee) at the RASC-AL Forum in June 2017 in Florida.

The RASC-AL competition is open to full-time undergraduate or graduate students majoring in engineering or science at an accredited college or university. University design teams must include one faculty or industry advisor with a university affiliation and two or more undergraduate or graduate students. A group of universities also may collaborate on a design project entry. Multidisciplinary teams are encouraged.

For more information about this competition, visit

If you have questions about this competition, please contact the RASC-AL team at

Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowships for Early Career Researchers

The Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship in astrophysics seeks to provide early-career researchers the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to lead astrophysics flight instrument development projects, including suborbital investigations, in preparation to become principal investigators of future astrophysics missions; to develop innovative technologies for space astrophysics that have the potential to enable major scientific breakthroughs; and to foster new talent by putting early-career instrument builders on a trajectory toward long-term positions. NASA is committed to supporting deserving early-career researchers by selecting one or more Roman Technology Fellows every year.

This fellowship consists of two components with two different submission procedures. (1) The first component is the application to be named a Roman Technology Fellow through a one-page application submitted along with a proposal submitted to D.3, the Astrophysics Research and Analysis, or APRA, program element. (2) The second component is the subsequent submission of a proposal for up to $300K in fellowship funds by a previously selected Roman Technology Fellow once that individual obtains a permanent or permanent track position.

A notice of intent to submit a proposal is required and is due Jan. 20, 2017. Proposals are due March 17, 2017.

For complete fellowship details and application procedures, visit

Questions concerning this opportunity may be directed to William Lightsey at

Future Engineers Mars Medical Challenge

Calling all students! NASA wants your help to design an object that could be used by an astronaut to maintain physical health on a three-year mission to Mars. The Mars Medical Challenge is the fifth in a series of Future Engineers Challenges where students in grades K-12 create and submit a digital 3-D model intended to be printed in 3-D and used for a wide range of medical needs including diagnostic, preventive, first-aid, emergency, surgical and/or dental purposes.

As NASA continues to investigate how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, radiation and stress that occur long-duration spaceflight, Future Engineers proposes to engage students with a related challenge. The Mars Medical Challenge asks students to design a 3-D printed object that will keep astronauts healthy during the long trip to the Red Planet. Specifically, medical and dental hardware will be emphasized during this challenge.

Students ages 5-19 are invited to become the creators and innovators of tomorrow by using 3-D modeling software to submit their designs for hardware that could be used by astronauts on a future mission to Mars. Students have the opportunity to win prizes ranging from a Mars prize pack or a 3-D printer for their school to a trip to Houston for a tour of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The challenge closes on Jan. 25, 2017, and winners will be announced on March 28, 2017.

What health-related items do you think an astronaut will need on that journey, and why would these items require a 3-D printer? It’s time to start flexing your problem-solving and design skills to find a solution – good luck!

For more information about the challenge and how to enter, visit

National Science Foundation’s Mathematical Sciences Graduate Internship Program

The National Science Foundation is accepting applications for its Mathematical Sciences Graduate Internship Program. MSGI provides an opportunity for mathematical sciences doctoral students to participate in internships at national laboratories, industry and other approved facilities. Participation in an internship will provide first-hand experience of the use of mathematics in a nonacademic setting. The internships are aimed at students who are interested in understanding the application of advanced mathematical and statistical techniques to “real-world” problems, regardless of whether the student plans to pursue an academic or nonacademic career.

MSGI is open to graduate students pursuing a doctoral degree in mathematics, statistics or applied mathematics who are enrolled as full-time graduate students at an accredited U.S. college or university during the 2016-2017 academic year. Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 3.30 or higher on a 4.0 scale, including fall 2016 grades.

The application submission deadline is March 1, 2017.

For more information, visit

Questions about this internship opportunity should be directed to

Call for Submissions — NASA Announcement for High Impact / Broad Implementation STEM Education Partnerships (EDUCATION01SP16)

The NASA Headquarters Office of Education, in cooperation with the agency’s four mission directorates, nine center education offices, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory education office, announces this competition to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Responses must be submitted electronically via the NASA data system NSPIRES (

NASA Education seeks to partner with eligible domestic or international organizations on a no-exchange-of-funds basis to reach wider and more diverse audiences and to achieve mutually beneficial objectives. The announcement places a priority on collaboration involving the following: digital learning; engaging underrepresented groups in STEM; NASA-themed STEM challenges; and youth-serving organizations. NASA also is receptive to other creative ideas including, for example, investigations or application of science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics and design, or STEAMD; or activities culturally relevant to or focused on populations underrepresented in STEM careers, such as women, ethnic minorities and persons with disabilities. The announcement explains the criteria used to review responses and NASA’s partnership mechanism known as a no-exchange-of-funds or nonreimbursable Space Act Agreement.

NASA will accept responses on a rolling basis through Dec. 31. 2017.

For more information about this opportunity, visit NSPIRES at

If you have any questions about this opportunity, please direct your questions to the Points of Contact listed within the NASA announcement.

Searchable Portals for Federally Sponsored Opportunities for STEM Undergraduate and Graduate Students

Are you an undergraduate or graduate student seeking opportunities in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)? The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science — in collaboration with the participating agencies in the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM) and the Alliance — has launched a search portal for both students and universities to discover federally sponsored STEM education training and funding opportunities.

Student users can search the site for opportunities they can apply to directly, such as research internships and fellowships. Likewise, universities can search the site for federal funding opportunities to establish innovative training programs for undergraduates or graduate students.

Users can search the site through faceted searching capabilities for characteristics such as program type, STEM discipline, institution location, federal sponsor, and eligibility. Or they can search through the open text option.

For programs and opportunities for undergraduates, visit

For graduate programs and opportunities, visit

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McCain’s 300 Low-End Fighters A ‘Great Idea:’ CSAF Gen. Goldfein

WASHINGTON: A key part of Sen. John Mclain’s alternative defense budget proposal is the rapid purchase of 300 “low-cost, light-attack fighters that would require minimal work to develop.”

I asked Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein today what he thought of McCain’s proposal, contained in Restoring American Power. “Great idea,” he said, pointing to the long war we’ve fought against Islamic terrorists and other violent extremists. While America needs F-22s and F-35s in case of war with China, Russia, Iran or North Korea, Goldfein said those aircraft need a break from flying the regular missions into permissive environments such as those found in Syria,  Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other theaters where US aircraft execute Close Air Support (CAS) and other operations that don’t require stealth, high speed or other expensive and sophisticated capabilities.

Scorpion by Textron

After his talk at the glamorous new headquarters of the American Enterprise Institute, Goldfein spoke with me briefly and confirmed that the Air Force already is talking with defense companies about possible aircraft for the job. The head of Air Force public affairs, Brig. Gen. Edward Thomas, then spoke with reporters after Goldfein left the building, confirming there is no money in the budget — this year or next (so far) — to fund this effort. He also confirmed that this aircraft is in keeping with the Air Force plan to buy a new fighter capable of CAS, known as OA-X.

I asked Goldfein if the Scorpion aircraft, built on spec by Textron AirLand, was one of the aircraft under consideration and he said yes. The other planes already being considered for OA-X are Embraer’s A-29 Super Tucanos and Beechcraft’s AT-6. With ardent A-10 supporter Sen. Kelly Ayotte having lost her seat, it will be interesting to see how Congress shapes the CAS decisions the Air Force hopes to make.

In other news, Goldfein admitted that Russia and Turkey flying together today in operations over Syria “certainly adds to the complexity” of the regional situation in the Middle East. Turkey, a key NATO ally, flew F-16s with the Russians. Michael Gordon of the New York Times pressed him for a clearer answer and Goldfein said: “I’m not concerned right now, but we are all watching very closely to see what goes on.”

The idea of Russian and Turkish troops working tougher in any form would have been laughable a year ago. In November 2015 Turkey shot down a Russian jet it said was violating its airspace and President Erdogan repeatedly defended the shoot down. Then Erdogan expressed “deep regret” to Putin in June last year for the downing and the unfortunate Turkish pilots were arrested. Since then, Russia and Turkey have worked more and more closely together in operations centered on northeastern Syria.

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Richmond senior center getting a new look – Palladium

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