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Interested in Amateur Radio (Ham Radio)? 

Check out this great opportunity!

Plans for the January-May, 2023 (Wave 1) session are underway, and applications for that session are now closed. 

However, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) will be looking for 20 learners (18-20 years old) with an interest in learning about the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) and amateur (ham) radio – including obtaining licensure! We will begin recruiting for Wave 1.5 (Summer, 2023) and Wave 2 (Fall, 2023) sometime during Spring, 2023.

  • With this program, the NRAO wants to broaden the excitement of amateur radio among BIPOC and/or LGBTQIA+ students by offering a safe, welcoming environment to learn about the electromagnetic spectrum through an interactive experience with amateur (ham) radio. 

Ham Radio Girl 2
What is Ham Radio?

If you are selected to be a part of an EMS/Ham Radio cohort, you will:

  • receive a stipend ($2,000 over the 20-week project)
  • meet weekly to learn more about the electromagnetic spectrum and how it is used in a variety of STEM fields
  • engage with scientists and engineers using cutting-edge technology and software in their fields
  • receive cool technology and tools
  • learn about important, wide-ranging, and exciting pathways toward STEM careers
  • prepare to take and pass the amateur radio technical licensure test
Picture of Jesse Alexander

Jesse Alexander, he/him, WB2IFS/3

Ham Radio Project Lead

Picture or Wesley Red

Wesley Red, he/him

Ham Radio Project Peer/Mentor

Additional features of the opportunity include:

  • weekly coaching meetings with mentors
  • networking opportunities with the NRAO programs specifically designed to support historically excluded minorities within the sciences
  • opportunities to attend and present at conferences, including financial support
  • opportunity to apply for a summer research experience (8-10 weeks with generous stipend)
  • connections with amateur radio clubs

What would be your obligations?

We are looking for learners who are excited about technology, electronics, and science. We are also looking for learners who will stick with the program. [When you are working on your application, remember to let us know why this opportunity is important to you, and why you will commit to the program].

  • Commit to participating in the full 20-week, online program 
  • Commit to 3-6 hours/week (number of hours to complete coursework will vary)

How will this program work?

  • This EMS/Ham radio course is offered entirely online and will run for 20 weeks
  • About 10 learners, from a wide variety of locations, will gather virtually to build a community
  • Participants will:
  • use an online learning platform (Superknova), every week, to learn about the EMS and ham radio:
  • including reading course material, watching videos, etc.
  • requiring 2-4 hours of study each week
  • participate in weekly 1-2 hour Zoom sessions, in order to:
  • review course material with subject matter experts
  • engage with mentors
  • learn about career opportunities
  • and more...
  • Be a part of a community of learners with the goal of supporting each other

Why learn about amateur (ham) radio?

Recent science fiction shows like Stranger Things and The Quiet Place feature people who need to communicate across long distances without the benefit of cellular telephone technology. In Stranger Things (set in the early 80s), cellular networks didn’t yet exist, and in The Quiet Place, the world (and its technology) has fallen to an alien invasion. Even though these are science fiction stories, the technology used to communicate in both (amateur radio) is real, and still in use today.

In more real world scenarios – where disruptions to communication might occur due to extreme weather, wildfires or volcanic eruptions – amateur (or ham) radio has at times been the only mode of communication possible.

This course will:

  • prepare you to learn how to protect and connect your community in good times and bad. Ham radio operators are an important community resource, especially  when dealing with any emergency including natural crises
  • teach you about protecting and preserving little-known precious natural resources (e.g. the electromagnetic spectrum)
  • train you to pass your amateur radio certification test and become a licensed ham radio operator
  • give you some cool tech equipment and lab experiences

If you have a strong interest in electronics, wireless communications, physics, engineering,  and/or astronomy, this opportunity may be for you!

What will I need to have to be eligible to participate?

You will need:

  • time and ability to study and meet for about 3-6 hours/week (occasionally more)
  • a computer/laptop and/or smartphone/tablet 
  • reliable, broadband internet access 
  • enthusiasm!

All required lab equipment and training will be supplied as part of this opportunity!

About the Application (opening again Spring, 2023)

Thank you for your interest in the Exploring the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) / Ham Radio Project. Before completing this application, we strongly encourage you to review the information detailed above.

Your understanding of that information should help you prepare a strong application and should answer questions that you may have. The form may not allow you to save the questions and return later, so we encourage you to prepare your responses in a separate document, then enter the information in the form when you are able to complete the form in one sitting.

Important things to keep in mind: 

  • We understand that you may not be able to answer yes to every question. We understand that you may not have access to all of the resources that we ask about, and you may not have had a lot of experience in some of the things that we mention. Please do not let this stop you from applying. We may be able to mitigate some barriers. We are looking for people are curious about this topic and who are willing to commit to the program. If you are deeply interested in this opportunity, let us know how and why (in writing or in a video).
  • We are focused on cohort-building - creating a community that will allow you to explore this exciting project with peer-support and encouragement. This means We are looking for participants who are eager to learn and to explore. In your application, do your best to let us know why and how you are excited about being a part of this project.
  • This will require a commitment on your part. We will be looking for participants who will stick with the program for the full 20 weeks. Will you show up every week? Will you do the online work? Are you committed to obtaining an amateur radio Technician’s license? In your application, let us know that you are committed to the program.

This project is made possible by a generous grant from the Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC).

We would also like to thank the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) for donating license manuals and other learning materials, and acknowledge the Tuscon Amateur Packet Radio and the Young Amateurs Radio Club for their administrative and technical support in this endeavor. 

Applications Closed 10/31/2022