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This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
It was a dark sky above Illinois that literally opened up a universe for Bentley faculty member George Fishman.
“I was fascinated, and not just in terms of memorizing the names of celestial objects. I really wanted to study astronomy and understand our place in the universe,” he recalls of that night 26 years ago.
Today, Fishman shares his galaxy of expertise as a senior lecturer in Bentley’s Natural and Applied Sciences Department – and to great effect. He is among 38 outstanding educators named to the 2011 Flight of Teacher Liaisons, an initiative of the nonprofit Space Foundation.
Drawn from 37 schools in 19 states, teacher liaisons advocate for space-science education and use foundation training and resources to integrate the study of space into classrooms at every level of education.
“I don’t see it as an award so much as a valuable opportunity to connect with other space educators across the country,” says Fishman, who holds an MA in astronomy from Boston University and joined the Bentley faculty in 1994.
The honor recognizes his skill at engaging students in the study of space science. Case in point: David Endich ’12, who chose an astronomy course to meet the four-credit science requirement for his business major in Finance.
“I was blown away on the first day by Professor Fishman’s energy and passion,” says Enrich, who went on to take two other science electives with Fishman and decided to minor in Natural and Applied Sciences. He has fixed on a career in the emerging space sector or with a NASA contractor.
Human exploration of space is a particular passion for Fishman. His newly launched elective course – U.S. Space Program: Going Beyond – focuses on NASA’s work over the past 50 years and examines the impact of space activity across a range of areas: science, technology, engineering and mathematics education; scientific discovery; technology and innovation; and the benefit to society as a whole. Business facets of the course include the commercial space sector, space tourism, and the global space economy.
“Bentley students readily make connections between space–business concepts and their major business courses,” Fishman says. “They leave the course appreciating and understanding the often-unrecognized value of space activities in technology, business and society.”
Another of Fishman’s roles is mentoring students who choose the Earth, Environment and Global Sustainability concentration in the Liberal Studies major. He is also the faculty adviser to Bentley’s NASA Means Business (BNMB) student organization, which took part in an annual case competition until the space agency discontinued program funding. Endich and Carol Emerson ’13, co-leaders of BNBM, are planning new activities for the group in fall 2011.
“It’s rewarding to be able to motivate students to learn about something they never expected to study at Bentley,” observes Fishman, a 2009 recipient of the university’s Gregory H. Adamian Award for Excellence in Teaching. “I’ve achieved that goal if they get excited about space science in and beyond the classroom.”
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