as·pir·naut = one who aspires, seeks and achieves

Pronounced: as-per-nawt

Founded in 2006 by two Vanderbilt faculty members, the program was launched as an online-learning-on-the-bus initiative in rural, Arkansas in 2006. Since the first pilot on rural school bus routes where students completed online curriculum, Aspirnaut™ has evolved to a K-20 STEM pipeline program for diversity that partners the experiential and content expertise of Vanderbilt University Medical Center with rural K-12 schools and diverse high school, undergraduate and graduate students.

Currently, the program includes two major components in multiple states:

1)  Summer Research Internships at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for diverse high school, undergraduate and graduate students, and

2) “Beaming” or videoconferencing of hands-on inquiry-based STEM labs weekly into rural elementary and middle school classrooms. 

The bus pilot concluded and many school districts throughout the United States have since wired school buses. The program continues to innovate cost-effective methods to work in conjunction with rural schools to expand the mathematics and scientific achievement of their students.



February 2006
Idea for “school begins on the bus” originates in the mind of Billy Hudson

June 2006
Grapevine Historical Society agrees to support the Aspirnaut™ Initiative

April 11, 2007
First school day on the wired bus

December 23, 2008
New York Times Magazine story runs in much-anticipated “Year in Ideas” issue

April 6, 2009
Act 827 is signed in the Arkansas State Legislature to create a pilot program for mobile learning based on the Aspirnaut™ Initiative.

June-July 2009
Federal stimulus ARRA funds are granted to support the first Aspirnaut™ Summer Research Internships at Vanderbilt University.

September 14, 2009
First videoconference between the rural site and Vanderbilt University using Skype and a MacBook.

Fall, 2010
Aspirnaut™ expands from Arkanasas to Maine!

Fall, 2011
Aspirnaut™ beams to Tennessee.

Fall, 2012
USET (United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc.) honors Aspirnaut™.

Fall, 2013
Aspirnaut™ triples its SRI program since its inception and number of weekly beaming sites reaches 20.