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February 11, 2002

CONTACT: Bill Edmonds
Director of Communications

Lt. Governor, Education Secretary call K-20 Space Roundtable

Lt. Governor Frank Brogan and Education Secretary Jim Horne will engage in a K-20 Space Roundtable discussion Wednesday with a variety of education and space-technology experts to explore ways to create stronger links between Florida's education system and the nation's space program.

The two-hour roundtable begins at 9 a.m. Feb. 13 and is part of Space Day activities at the Florida Capitol.

Joining the discussion in the Governor's Large Conference Room in the Capitol will be astronaut Jim Voss and former astronauts Dr. Norm Thagard, Capt. Winston Scott and Dr. Samuel T. Durrance. Also expected to participate will be technology leaders from the Florida Space Research Institute, the Kennedy Space Center, the Technology Research and Development Authority, the Florida Space Business Roundtable, Workforce Florida and Florida's K-20 education system, among others.

"NASA's space program is a tremendous asset to our state," Secretary Horne said. "The Lieutenant Governor and I are calling these minds together to explore ways to make the space program a vital part of education in Florida."

Horne noted that Florida's schools, colleges and universities already have links with NASA and the Kennedy Space Center. Florida International University's NASA Applications Center and the University of Central Florida's Florida Space Institute are but two examples. "We need to strengthen these ties and create new relationships as we look ahead," Horne said.

NASA faces a growing need for engineers and skilled workers, as more than half of the Kennedy Space Center's work force is nearing retirement age. "I want our schools and universities to rise to this challenge," Horne said. "These are demanding jobs that require the highest training."

Horne said Florida needs to expand education in technology and technology-related fields, and the experts on the K-20 Space Roundtable will talk about how this best can be accomplished. "There is only one Kennedy Space Center — the world center o f high technology — and it is here in our backyard," Horne said. "NASA and space exploration are key parts of Florida's future."