NRAO’s Central Development Lab to Launch New Program for Women in Engineering with Support from the Heising-Simons Foundation

Newswise – Following a generous grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation, NSF’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) Central Development Laboratory (CDL) will soon launch an ambitious Women in Engineering program that will increase opportunities for women to enter the field of radio astronomy through engineering routes. The program will include a postdoctoral fellowship and a co-op program for undergraduate and graduate students.

As part of the NRAO’s ongoing commitment to women in engineering, the new fellowship program will support outstanding postdoctoral female engineers whose research is related to the mission of the organization. These fellows, who will be granted two-year appointments, will devote up to 75% of their time to independent research while contributing to the development and delivery by the Observatory of research techniques, capacities or activities. education and public awareness in radio astronomy. The co-op program will provide six-month laboratory work experiences for female graduate and engineering students, giving them the opportunity to contribute and learn from ongoing research and engineering projects. The CDL team further hopes that at least some of the fellows and co-op students in the program will gain permanent employment with the NRAO.

“It’s an exciting time to work for NRAO. Our technology is playing an important role in headline-grabbing discoveries in astronomy, including recent imaging of the black hole at the center of our galaxy. And to continue to do this work , we need to find and nurture the best of the best in science and engineering,” said Bert Hawkins, Director of CDL. “This grant will enable CDL to encourage more women to pursue careers in radio astronomy engineering and will positively impact the development of technology that will make the headlines of tomorrow.We are grateful to the Heising-Simons Foundation for this opportunity and look forward to working with them to establish the Women in Engineering program at CDL.

The CDL Women in Engineering program will build on insights from the landmark 2012 study, “Stemming the Tide: Why Women Leave Engineering,” creating challenging, rewarding, and positive work experiences that value and encourage the contributions of women. in the fields of engineering. This kind of early positive engagement has been shown to increase the likelihood that women will enter and stay in the field, bringing diverse perspectives to the ever-changing needs of engineering projects. The $725,000 grant from the Heising-Simons Foundation will allow the NRAO to develop and sustain the Women in Engineering program for its first two years.

NRAO Director Tony Beasley said, “The diversity of perspectives and expertise is what keeps the NRAO at the forefront of radio astronomy engineering. The NRAO is thrilled to work with the Heising-Simons Foundation to extend our commitment to making radio astronomy and engineering a positive and growth-oriented career path for women.

About the Heising-Simons Foundation

The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation based in Los Altos and San Francisco, California. The Foundation works with its many partners to advance sustainable climate and clean energy solutions, enable groundbreaking scientific research, improve education for our youngest learners, and support human rights for all.

About NRAO

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under a cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc. Continuing NSF’s mission to advance the advancement of science, the NRAO enables research in the Universe at radio wavelengths and provides the world with world class telescopes, instrumentation and expertise to the scientific community. The NRAO’s mission includes a commitment to broader, equitable, and inclusive participation in science and engineering, the training of the next generation of scientists and engineers, and the promotion of astronomy to foster a better society. scientifically educated. The NRAO operates three research facilities: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), which are available to scientists around the world entire. , regardless of institutional or national affiliation. NRAO welcomes candidates who bring diverse and innovative dimensions to the Observatory and to the field of radio astronomy. For more information about NRAO, visit

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