NASA Takes Giant Leap for Diversity with New Partnerships

NASA, the space agency that’s out of this world (literally), has had a pretty impressive year in 2022.

They launched their mega Moon rocket for the first time, sending an uncrewed spacecraft on a trip around the Moon.

NASA also revealed some seriously cool new imagery from the cosmos with the Webb Space Telescope. NASA even showed off its skills by moving an asteroid in a planetary defense test.

And let’s remember their regular missions to the International Space Station with a team of astronauts. They’ve also been working on innovative technologies, like an inflatable heat shield for Mars, and developing quieter supersonic aircraft that won’t shatter your eardrums.

But even with all of these out-of-this-world accomplishments, NASA’s most significant focus in 2022 is on bringing some diversity to the scientific community.

They’re partnering with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), Primarily Black Institutions (PBIs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Community Colleges to make it happen.

This program, called the NASA Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Bridge Program aims to form some sustainable partnerships between these institutions and very highly research-intensive universities and NASA Centers or Facilities.

The goal is to offer paid research and engineering student positions at participating institutions and help transition students from undergraduate studies into graduate school or a job with NASA or a related organization.

The SMD Bridge Program will also include a mentoring plan to guide student experiences, which could focus on science, engineering, technology development, or computational methods and modeling projects in any science area relevant to the SMD.

The mentoring plan will describe the overarching goals for the students and the roles and responsibilities of mentors at the partner institutions. Collaborative mentoring models involving faculty and NASA scientists and engineers are encouraged, as are capacity-building efforts at historically under-resourced partner institutions.

A draft call for SMD Bridge Program proposals will be released in November-December 2022, with a final call planned for February 2023.

So if you’ve ever wanted to blast off into the world of science and engineering with NASA, now’s your chance!