NASA Awards More Than $7 Million to Minority-Serving Institutions Over Three Years
Creating a future for humanity in the stars and continuing to improve life on Earth are tasks NASA can only achieve by involving all of humanity. To challenge the barriers to entry for students from diverse backgrounds in engineering, NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project, or MUREP, called upon Minority Serving Institutions to develop proposals for how they could use NASA funding to strengthen their support for underrepresented communities.
Today, NASA has chosen six universities to win the MUREP Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science, or INCLUDES, award. Each award provides up to $1.2 million for a three-year period to implement the institution’s proposal.
The selected institutions and their proposed projects are:
Alabama State University
Developing NASA Pathways to Engineering and Experiential Research for Student Success: NASA PEERSS
In order to help close the gap of racial inequality in engineering, Alabama State University, or ASU, in Montgomery, Alabama, is implementing the Developing Emergent Engineers and Physicists, or DEEP, Program with the goal of engaging STEM subject matter experts, professional organizations, social science researchers, and industry partners to create a supportive community of engineering learners. ASU was awarded $1,198,937.75 as a three-year budget for its proposal.
Florida A&M University
Broadening Participation of Next Generation Aerospace Engineers Through Traineeship and Workforce Development Program
Focusing on increasing representation in research related to aerospace systems and technologies, the proposal led by Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, will establish a multi-institution coalition to recruit underrepresented groups for a program that will give hands-on experience to students in NASA-relevant fields. In addition to Florida A&M University, this coalition includes the University of Central Florida, Florida State University, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and four NASA centers. Florida A&M University was awarded $1,199,977.00 as a three-year budget for its proposal.
J.F. Drake State Technical College
Drake State Engineering Frontiers Coalition
The Drake State Engineering Frontiers Coalition, proposed by J.F. Drake State Technical College in Huntsville, Alabama, tackles the issue of representation by starting with students in secondary and postsecondary education. By coordinating with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, aerospace industry partners, other government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and more, the coalition will engage students starting as early as 8th grade and continue supporting them through graduate programs through activities such as summer bridge programs, professional development and research opportunities, mentoring, and more. J.F. Drake State Technical College was awarded $1,189,200.00 as a three-year budget for its proposal.
Navajo Technical College
Broadening Participation in Engineering, Robotics and Computer Science using Zero Robotics on Astrobee
To broaden participation from Indigenous and Hispanic students in computer science and space robotics activities, the Navajo Technical College has proposed the Consortium for Hispanic and Indigenous Education on Robotics in Space, or CHIERS. In partnership with a variety of other institutions, including the Zero Robotics STEM program, it will provide a platform to share strategies and best practices in diversifying the field. The proposal also suggests a programming competition modelled after previous competitions by Zero Robotics, building on a decade of experience. Such a competition would allow participation from middle and high school to university students and give participants the chance to have a hands-on experience with space robotics in a microgravity environment. The Navajo Technical College was awarded $1,179,882.24 as a three-year budget for its proposal.
Texas A&M Kingsville
Proactive Pathways of Excellence to Engage Minority Students in Aerospace Engineering
In an effort to broaden participation among underrepresented minorities, especially Hispanic and female students in South Texas, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, or TAMU-K, in Kingsville has proposed the Proactive Pathways of Excellence to Engage Minority Students in Aerospace Engineering program. In the long-term, the program aims to develop the first Aerospace Engineering Bachelor of Science program in South Texas and use partnerships with a variety of institutions to broaden participation of historically underserved groups – a necessity to accomplish the goal of returning to the Moon and traveling on to Mars. TAMU-K was awarded $1,200,000.00 as a three-year budget for its proposal.
University of Massachusetts, Boston
Partners Aligned To Heighten Broad Participation in STEM
As the only funded research-intensive minority serving institution in New England, the University of Massachusetts, Boston, has sought to reflect on how systemic racism impacts STEM fields in reaction to recent conversations around the movement for racial justice. The Partners Aligned to Heighten Broad Participation in STEM, or PATHS, program proposed by UMass Boston aims to provide a variety of paths into engineering. By working with a coalition of partner institutions, using metrics to identify gaps in representation, telling the stories of diverse student perspectives, enhancing existing opportunities, and fostering a sense of belonging among Black, Indigenous, and people of color within the engineering community, PATHS seeks to knock down the barriers that have blocked participation. UMass Boston was awarded $1,200,000.00 as a three-year budget for its proposal.
The Minority University Research and Education Project is administered through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Office of STEM Engagement. MUREP’s Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science program amplifies the National Science Foundation’s INCLUDES efforts.