University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Press Release

Top NASA Official to speak at UWM Friday, January 23rd

David Kankam, of NASA’s Glenn Research Center (GRC), will speak to students and faculty about opportunities with the space agency, with a focus on GRC, Friday, Jan. 23, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

By - Jan 21st, 2015 09:00 am

David Kankam, of NASA’s Glenn Research Center (GRC), will speak to students and faculty about opportunities with the space agency, with a focus on GRC, Friday, Jan. 23, at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

As University Affairs Officer, Kankam is responsible for directing the NASA Space and Aeronautics Academies at Glenn and for research collaborations with universities.   He will speak to students in the WiscAMP (Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation) program from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Wisconsin Room of the UWM Union, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd. WiscAMP is a UW-System initiative that provides academic supports and mentoring to underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Kankam will meet with UWM STEM faculty and WiscAMP staff, and take part in a Summer Opportunities in STEM Fair from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Wisconsin Room.   The event offers students a chance to meet and network with a senior NASA engineer, said Cheryl Ajirotutu, associate vice chancellor for Global Inclusion and Engagement.

Kankam says his visit is to discuss opportunities with NASA generally, rather than recruit students, but he will be accepting resumes at the Summer Opportunities Fair. The Glenn Research Center is one of 10 NASA centers across the United States.

Like many other agencies relying on talent in the STEM fields, NASA is interested in diversifying its workforce.

“We’re interested in increasing diversity in our workforce,” says Kankam, as NASA competes with businesses and other engineering and scientific agencies for talented students and graduates. “We want to get more students from underrepresented groups coming into the pipeline through NASA internships, fellowships and scholarships.”

Kankam, an electrical engineer who has served NASA as a senior research engineer and acting chief of the Electromechanical Systems Branch, says he was attracted to his career because he was educated at schools with strong programs and teachers in the sciences and mathematics.

“Education has always been very, very strong in my family,” he said. Born and raised in Ghana, he is the ninth of 11 children and was inspired by his teachers, parents and the example of his siblings. “They were role models.”

He received a number of scholarships and fellowships, and eventually moved to Canada, where he earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in applied science and electrical engineering from the University of Toronto in Ontario.

He has written numerous reports and articles for refereed publications on the dynamics and control of power and electronics-based systems. In addition to his work with NASA, he also serves on the Industry Advisory Council for Cleveland State University and on Miami of Ohio’s Research Advisory Council.

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