NASA's Office of Education will award more than $17.3 million through the National Space Grant and Fellowship Program to increase student and faculty engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at community colleges and technical schools across the U.S. Each award has a two-year performance period and a maximum value of $500,000.
The 35 awards were granted after a solicitation to members of the national Space Grant Consortia. Winning proposals outlined ways to attract and retain more students from community and technical colleges in STEM curricula, develop stronger collaborations to increase student access to NASA’s STEM education content, and increase the number of students who advance from an associate to a bachelor’s degree.
The California Space Grant Consortium, for example, proposes to enhance STEM preparation at 12 state community colleges and improve opportunities for approximately 300 students to transfer to either the University of California or the California State University system.
This multi-faceted program includes development of a distance learning STEM course for faculty and students that fosters education and training in programmable microcomputers, near-space ballooning, small satellites, autonomous ground robots and wearable sensor vests for sports and health monitoring.
The Colorado Space Grant Consortium proposes to add four new community college campuses as affiliates to the consortium. Students and faculty members from these institutions will participate in STEM activities by designing, building and launching high-altitude balloon payloads.
In addition, the students will have an opportunity to compete for scholarships, summer internships at NASA centers and to participate in the RockOn! workshop, part of an ongoing collaboration with NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
On the East Coast, the North Carolina Space Grant Consortium proposes to offer competitive STEM scholarships at the community college level in order to attract and retain students through graduation and/or matriculation into four-year universities.
The consortium also will offer a Team Design Challenge and Competition for faculty and students across the state to increase STEM education experiences featuring NASA content.
Space Grant Consortia operate in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Each has a lead institution to manage its activities.
In addition, there are more than 850 affiliates, including colleges and universities, industry, museums and science centers, and state and local agencies, that work to support and enhance science and engineering education, research and public outreach efforts for NASA's aeronautics and space projects. The affiliates work directly with the lead Space Grant institutions to deliver quality STEM programs.
Through this NASA higher education program, the agency continues its tradition of investing in the U.S. education infrastructure with the goal of developing STEM skills and capabilities critical to achieving the nation's exploration goals through a robust, STEM-literate workforce.
For more information, visit www.nasa.gov.