It was a mission impossible situation. Over the past 21 years, Fish & Richardson has sent over 500 diverse middle school students from underrepresented areas to U.S. Space & Rocket Center Space Camp in Alabama every summer on full scholarships. This 22nd year, as the COVID pandemic continued to rage, it became increasingly clear that this year’s 27 Space Camp Scholarship winners and their chaperones from Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, New York, San Diego, Twin Cities, Washington, D.C., and Wilmington (DE) would not be able to safely attend Space Camp in person. In San Diego, that included three middle school students from Bethune K-8 in Paradise Hills.
Cancelling the program – which Fish created to engage middle school students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) – would be devastating to the kids, so the firm decided to create its own virtual Space Camp. Fish’s team sprang into action and hatched a plan for a virtual Space Camp on July 20. Failure was not an option.
To bring this program to life, Fish brought on two former NASA astronauts, Wendy Lawrence and Mike Mullane, to create an exciting program for the students. John Serafini, CEO of HawkEye 360, which is the leading developer of space-based radio frequency collection, mapping and analytic capabilities, also created a dynamic teaching module for virtual Space Camp.
Lawrence, who has flown four space shuttle missions, will “lift off” the program with a presentation on what it takes to live in space. Lawrence will discuss how astronauts eat, sleep and bathe with zero gravity, with students serving as the “engineers” of the mission and solving the challenges faced in space. Mullane, who completed three space missions and logged 356 hours in space aboard the Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis, will end the program with an inspiring conversation about his journey from an “unremarkable childhood” into space and how others can achieve this dream. Mullane will share his personal experiences in space and also guide the students through the 12,000-mile glide through the fireball of reentry to landing.
Serafini will teach the students how satellites in space can be used to track and stop illegal activity on earth like poaching, illegal fishing and piracy. Fish attorney Matt Colvin will lead a discussion on SpaceX and its space exploration breakthroughs.
“These young people are our future STEM leaders, and we didn’t want to let them down. Many of them have never even met a scientist or a lawyer – much less an astronaut,” said Fish principal Jay Kugler DeYoung, who enlisted her client HawkEye360 to participate in the program. “This program is so important because it gets diverse students excited about STEM education, which is essential to developing the next generation of innovators who will drive our economy. We want these kids to shoot for the stars and to know that anything is possible – even virtual space exploration during a global health crisis.”
To ensure that every scholarship winner could participate in the virtual program, Fish provided Amazon Fire tablets for all the scholarship winners to use for the program and keep for future adventures.
The scholarship winners were selected by Fish attorneys based on written applications and in-person and virtual interviews that took place in February and March. All of the students are from schools in underrepresented areas, and typically three students are selected in each of the 11 U.S. cities where Fish has offices. Only nine middle schools were able to participate in this year’s scholarship program because of COVID shutdowns.
Fish & Richardson, the premier global intellectual property law firm, is trusted by the world’s most innovative and influential companies. From patent, trademark, and copyright prosecution and counseling to our full-service litigation practice, we work together to provide our clients with exceptional advocacy across the life cycle of intellectual property needs in the U.S. and around the world. Our deep bench of attorneys with first-chair trial experience in every technology makes us the go-to firm for the most technically complex cases. Fish was established in 1878, and now has more than 400 attorneys and technology specialists in the U.S., Europe, and China. Our success is rooted in our creative and inclusive culture, which values the diversity of people, experiences, and perspectives. For more information, visit fr.com or follow us at @FishRichardson.