• NYFA Students Visit Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    james webb

    New York Film Academy students had the rare opportunity to visit the renowned Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Friday, February 13, 2015. JPL is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in Southern California.

    NYFA students, admin and faculty were given a personal tour of the facility and got to experience first hand the technology and work that is going into the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and its MIRI (Mid Infrared Instrument) component.

    As part of a collaboration with NASA, JPL, and Northrop Grumman, New York Film Academy students have had the opportunity to pitch a series of commercials, PSA’s, and promotional pieces for the development of the JWST, planned for launch in 2018. The JPL visit was part of the students’ research for their film projects.

    “It was incredible to be given the opportunity to visit the NASA/JPL facilities,” said BFA Filmmaking student, Mariana Thome. “My project will be definitely enriched with details and insights of space.”

    james webb

    On the tour, JWST and MIRI project scientist Michael Ressler and Project Manager Kalyani Sukhatme, MIRI Cooler Test Facility Lead Engineer Jason Zan, and Cryocooler Delivery Manager Konstantin Penanen, informed students on how MIRI will help make the Webb Telescope a Next Generation Space Telescope (NGST) that will offer unprecedented resolution and sensitivity in its observations. So much, in fact, that the JWST will see deeper into space than any telescope ever has.

    Students were allowed to get a hands-on look at the cold room where MIRI flight hardware is tested, as well as the sensor room where all the electronics of the MIRI component are tested and aligned under a series of extreme temperatures that the telescope will experience in flight and operation.

    In addition, students were taken to the indoor “Mars-Yard” where rovers and other vehicles are tested before being deployed to the surface of Mars. Perhaps the highlight of the whole trip was a tour of the ground floor of JPL’s Mission Control. Mission Control monitors all of JPL’s current space flight missions which include the Curiosity Rover on Mars, the Cassini-Huygens mission orbiting Saturn, the twin Mars Exploration Rovers – Spirit and Opportunity, the Dawn spacecraft observing dwarf planet Ceres, and many more.

    The trip was organized as part of NYFA’s STEAM Education Initiatives by Rajiv Uttamchandani. Mr. Uttamchandani states, “At the New York Film Academy we continually emphasize education based on actual experience, whether it be within the realms of filmmaking or the sciences.”



    February 16, 2015 • Community Highlights, STEAM, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3039

  • New York Film Academy Visits Northrop Grumman and the James Webb Space Telescope

    NASA nyfa

    Faculty & Administration — Sonny Calderon, Eric Conner, Kelly Gardner, Rajiv Uttamchandani  |  Students — Sam Nieves – Jan 2014 BFA film. Tripp Townsend – Sept 2013 MFA prod, Laura Perez – Sept 2012 MFA film, Mariana Thome – Sept 2013 BFA film, Denis Kulikov – Sept 2012 AFA Film

    A group of New York Film Academy students received a rare opportunity to tour Northrop Grumman Corporation’s ( Los Angeles-based state-of-the-art facilities where some of the most vital components of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) are being constructed. The New York Film Academy has recently signed a Space Act Agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which establishes a pivotal relationship between the two organizations to merge the visual arts and sciences to increase public awareness of JWST.

    The Webb Telescope is the world’s next generation space observatory and successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. It is the most powerful space telescope ever built, and will enable humankind to observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide insight on the formation of the first galaxies, and offer unprecedented accuracy in the characterization of atmospheres of planets outside of our solar system.

    During the tour, NYFA guests were in awe of the grandeur and majesty of JWST and its fantastic scientific mission. They viewed up close and personal JWST’s template Sunshield (pictured above), each layer of which is made of Kaplon and is as thin as a human hair. The Sunshield will allow the telescope to cool down to a temperature below 50 Kelvin (-370 degrees F or -223 degrees C), and is crucial to its successful observation of the most distant objects in the universe. They also viewed JWST’s mirror backplane, a structure that will house the telescope’s 18 hexagonal shaped mirror segments, and were given a virtual “tour of the universe” by Northrop Grumman astrophysicist Dr. Alberto Conti.

    After getting this ultra rare opportunity to view first-hand some of the most visually striking and complex scientific instruments in the world, the New York Film Academy’s students are hard at work producing a series of 30-second PSA’s to capture the attention of communities around the globe. “We are immensely proud that our students will help tell the story of this epic and groundbreaking mission,” says NYFA Dean of College Sonny Calderon. “This is a great opportunity for them to see first-hand the power of their storytelling on a global scale.”

    Please visit for more information on the James Webb Space Telescope.

    January 21, 2015 • Community Highlights, STEAM, Student and Alumni Spotlights • Views: 3461

  • Create a PSA for NASA

    NASA PSA Contest

    The New York Film Academy is proud to announce a contest for students to pitch ideas that tell the story of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). JWST is poised to become one of the most groundbreaking scientific and engineering achievements of our time, designed to operate at near absolute zero, and approximately 1.5 million km away from the Earth.

    Now, the New York Film Academy‘s students will have the rare opportunity of being a part of the global dialogue and excitement that surrounds the development of the JWST. By creating powerful, engaging, and visually exciting stories featuring the Webb Telescope, students will explore humankind’s most significant scientific marvels first hand, and also have a chance to be featured in NASA’s websites.

    The initial round of the contest calls for submissions that contain strong self-application essays, reflecting upon the students’ views of JWST and why they should be picked for this highly prestigious opportunity. The second round will begin with invitations for selected students to tour Northrop Grumman and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), two facilities that house some of JWST’s vital components, and where most of the principal photography will take place.

    These tours will further motivate students for the final round of the contest, which culminates with no less than a live pitch to a committee featuring members from NASA, JPL, and Northrop Grumman!

    The New York Film Academy continues to lead the educational frontier for innovative STEAM-based education initiatives. Pay close attention as the first products of our collaboration with NASA, Northrop Grumman Corporation, JPL, and others, roll out in the beginning of 2015.

    For NYFA students: Your application must include:

    1. Cover letter outlining your interest in the JWST story.
    2. Reel or sample of your work.

    Materials may be submitted by individuals or groups. Selected students will receive a tour of JWST’s facilities and an opportunity to pitch their ideas to a committee including representatives from NASA. Winners will be given equipment and support to shoot a PSA that will be featured on NASA’s website and various other platforms.

    Contest open to all One Year, Two Year, MFA, BFA, MA and AFA Students in good standing. For more information about the James Webb Telescope, visit

    For submissions and/or questions about the contest, please email   

    September 10, 2014 • Contests, STEAM • Views: 4326

  • Exploring the Universe at Mt. Wilson Observatory

    mt. wilson

    New York Film Academy‘s BFA Acting and Filmmaking students had the rare opportunity to visit the 60-inch reflective telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles. This historic telescope, which was once the largest telescope in the world, was the center of the development of astronomy in the early 1900’s. Among many other achievements, Mt. Wilson is home to the discovery of the Sun’s position within the Milky Way Galaxy and the discovery of the expanding Universe. Amongst telescopes that are solely dedicated towards public viewing of Astronomical objects, Mt. Wilson’s 60-inch reflective remains the largest in the world, and has been an invaluable tool to professional astronomers such as Dr. Edwin Hubble (after which the Hubble Space Telescope is named).

    mt. wilson telescopeThe trip was organized as part of the students’ astronomy class with NYFA‘s Director of STEAM Education Initiatives Rajiv Uttamchandani. Reflecting upon the experience, Mr. Uttamchandani states, “It’s one thing to study astronomy within a classroom, occasionally glancing at pictures in a textbook. Typically, this is what’s done at most schools. However, at the New York Film Academy we continually emphasize education based on actual experience, whether it be within the realms of filmmaking or the sciences. To be able to see some of the most majestic objects of the universe through your own eyes – there’s nothing like it!”

    As the New York Film Academy continues to pursue prestigious STEAM collaborations and projects, the positive impacts are immediately felt amongst the students – “I was blown away. It was an amazing and magical experience for me that I will always remember. I feel lucky to have had that opportunity and thank you very much to NYFA for organizing this!”

    Some of the highlights of the observation were:

    • Individual craters on the Moon
    • Saturn
    • Mars
    • The Whirlpool Galaxy
    • Dumbbell Nebula
    • Carb’s Eye Nebula

    July 14, 2014 • Acting, Community Highlights, Filmmaking, STEAM • Views: 2732

  • NYFA Heads into Space with NASA

    New York Film Academy Hosts Talk with NASA

    Going where no film school has gone before, the New York Film Academy has announced a new joint relationship with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) that will incorporate visual storytelling alongside the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

    The replacement for NASA’s legendary Hubble Telescope, the JWST is expected to be competed and launched in 2018, allowing scientists greater insight into understanding how galaxies are created and continue to develop, learn more about the process behind the creation of planets and stars, and further explore the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrial life. NYFA will collaborate with NASA in promoting and raising interest and knowledge about this unprecedented project, with the Academy making available and using its vast production resources to craft a variety of informational content. This content will take the form of Public Service Announcements, sophisticated animated recreations of the extraordinary astronomical events and objects that scientists will observe using the JWST, and interactive eBooks and video hubs that will be located in popular public areas to create excitement and awareness amongst the public.

    According to astrophysicist and NYFA director of STEAM Education Initiatives Rajiv Uttamchadani, “The New York Film Academy’s collaboration with NASA and the James Webb Space Telescope presents a unique opportunity for us to implement one of our society’s most significant scientific undertakings directly into the Academy’s curriculum and programs. This will be crucial to the furthering of our efforts to create educational environments that will strongly engage and excite visual arts students in the sciences.”

    This collaboration with NASA is a testament to the Academy’s belief in using the power of visual storytelling to actively immerse both its students and the general public in the study and exploration of new worlds, whether it be through a camera or a telescope.

    June 2, 2014 • Community Highlights, STEAM • Views: 2660