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Cronkite School Scores Fourth Win in NASA Contest

September 30, 2007

For the fourth year in a row, public relations students in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication placed first in the NASA Means Business Competition.

The year-long competition is sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Coalition for Space Exploration to promote science, technology, engineering and math education to middle and high school students.

Students in Professor Fran Matera’s fall and spring public relations campaigns classes teamed up with students from the Art Institute of Phoenix to produce a series of public service announcements for NASA. The students produced five television spots of varying lengths and one print advertisement.

The students used Albert Einstein’s famous formula E=mc-squared to come up with the theme “My Connection 2 Everything.” The spots can be seen at www.mc2e.org.

The Arizona State University team was among six from universities around the country selected to compete in a three-day competition at the Marriott Conference Center in Cocoa Beach, Fla., near the Kennedy Space Center earlier this year. Each team was assigned an exercise that had to be completed within 36 hours.

The ASU team, which calls itself ASPIRE (Arizona Students Present Interesting Research to Everyone), won first place and was presented with a certificate and an American flag that had flown aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Team members were invited to Washington, D.C., in September to present their strategic communications plan and public service announcements to top officials of NASA’s Space Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. They also participated in the annual meeting of the Coalition for Space Exploration.

In addition, ASPIRE team leader and Cronkite School graduate Lauren Booth was named to the Coalition advisory board. Other current board members include former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, Academy Award-winning filmmaker James Cameron; internationally recognized cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Michael DeBakey, and morning anchor and space correspondent for CNN, Miles O'Brien.

“No other school has performed so well and so consistently in the NASA competition,” said Cronkite School Dean Christopher Callahan. “It’s remarkable what Dr. Matera has been able to accomplish, and we’re very proud of her work and that of her students.”

The work done by last year’s ASPIRE team went on to win several other national awards. The students won two Gold Remi Awards at the 40th Annual WorldFest/Houston International Film & Video Festival and an Award of Excellence at the Accolade competition, which recognizes film, video, television and documentary professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement.

The 2006 team also was one of 12 university teams invited to exhibit their work at the second annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Exploration Conference, sponsored by the Boeing Co. Other teams included Johns Hopkins University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Southern California and Stanford University.