NASA Engineer Nagin Cox Inspires Technical Audiences and Empowers Young People in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia

NASA’s systems engineer on the Mars Rover program Nagin Cox
NASA’s systems engineer on the Mars Rover program Nagin Cox

The U.S. Consulate General welcomed NASA’s systems engineer on the Mars Rover program Nagin Cox in Rio from Sept 24-26 for a series of events, including an innovative programing in partnership with the Rio Planetarium, the Municipal Secretariats for Women’s Policies and Education and MultiRio. The events of such initiative managed the experience of professional scientific careers to reach youth from unprivileged communities, promoting inclusion of Brazilian girls in technological research, and to inspire youth to engage in the fields of Hard Sciences, as Mechatronics, Engineering, among others.

The event began with a panel discussion on government policies that could increase the number of female professionals in scientific careers. Consul General John Creamer gave welcome remarks along with the Municipal Secretary of Women’s Policies, Ana Rocha, and Education, Helena Bomery and representatives from the National Secretariats of Science and Technology and Women’s Policies. Parallel to the roundtable, a group of young women students from both public schools and the American school participated in workshop and prepared a presentation on women’s contributions to science and the barriers they face. The cupola of the planetarium was the venue of the afternoon ceremony, where students, along with Cox and representatives of the roundtable morning spoke to an audience of 200 guests. Former Youth Ambassadors Valmir Dias and Maysa de Assis also participated as an inspirational speakers – Maysa has pursued the field of genetics, majoring in Biology at UFRJ. PAS-Rio also organized a meeting between with alumni from various DOS programs and Nagin, who finished her schedule in the city with an interview for STEM magazine Ciência Hoje.

Women-in-Science_girlsDuring her programing in Salvador, from September 30th to October 02nd, Nagin Cox visited a public school in Plataforma (Cidade baixa). Over 150 students participated – all students and teachers were excited with this very first and unique opportunity to interact with an American Engineer from the Space Program. The program day ended with a dinner with partners and contacts, including representatives from the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), which included several women leaders from the Interdisciplinary Department on Women Studies (NEIM – Brazil’s very first higher education program on Women’s Studies), Bahia Catholic University (UCSal), STEM cell scientists representing Fiocruz and representatives of the State Secretariat of Education.

On Wednesday (Oct 1st), Nagin delivered a lecture for over 450 students at UCSal, from a wide range of careers including law, political science, and engineering’s. Present at the event was Bahia State Prosecutor, Dra. Márcia Teixeira, who is a leading presence on the local debate for the empowerment of women. Following the morning activity, Cox spoke to a group of 30 former Alumni from the Cultural Institute Steve Biko. Closing the program in Salvador, Nagin proceeded to the Federal University of Bahia (UFBA), for an event organized by the Interdisciplinary program on Women Studies (NEIM). She spoke for over 150 students from a variety of fields and interacted with a group of graduate students from the education college, undergoing a special preparation for science teaching on public schools. Several media outlets recorded and interviewed Nagin and US Consulate General Public Affairs Officer Jessica Simon during their stay in Salvador, including TV Educativa, Bahia TV Program Mosaico and newspaper A Tarde. From there, the engineer traveled to Porto Alegre, RS, and then headed back to the USA.