MARION, S.C. – Duke Energy was the first to support the Marion County Performing Arts and Science Academy endeavors to build its own space flight simulator in 2016.

Mindy Taylor, Duke Energy’s district manager for government and community relations, paid another visit on July 31 to help with the second phase of the program with a $5,000 donation. The nonprofit organization uses the tool to teach skills in science, technology, engineering, aerospace and mathematics.

Taylor said she was excited about the second phase of the program.

“Duke Energy was an original supporter in that project, and it’s such a cool project,” Taylor said. “It teaches kids about STEM-related items, and they’re having fun and learning at the same time.”

Marion County Performing Arts and Science Academy director Justine Roberts said the NASA SEMAA project was shared among more than 70 children.

“Duke Energy has been one of our biggest supporters,” Robert said. “They have really supported us from day one, and we wouldn’t be here without them. Anything our children need in the community, they are right there 100 percent.”

Roberts said the flight simulator broadens the horizon for the children and allows them to think beyond when it comes to career aspirations.

Project coordinator and senior partner Fred Wilson said the second phase for the simulator is already equipped with seats, panels, lights and widescreen display, and it will include more upgrades for hands-on experience.

“We are getting ready to take that to a whole new level with Duke Energy’s help,” Wilson said. “That thing is going to be so interactive when I get done with my redesign that students will be able to plan and fly the missions themselves.”

Wilson said the children learn to use physics and geometry along with the military alpha code. Teamwork and working as a crew will be the focus, he said.

Wilson said the program teaches aerospace, and the use of a flight simulator incorporates students plotting courses for spacecraft missions.

“Duke Energy is the reason we can do the things we can do, and they’ve always been with us,” Wilson said.

“They will be able to fly missions, and everyone in the simulator will have their own monitors and things they will have to do as well. It’s going to teach them hand-eye-coordination and how to plot a course, telling me how far it’s going to be and how long it’s going to take to get there.”

Roberts said she is thankful for the partnership with Duke Energy.

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Born in Atlantic City; raised in Mullins. Graduated from SC State University, home of the mighty Bulldogs. Editor of the Marion Star & Mullins Enterprise. Loves spending free time with his daughter. Huge sports fan.

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