NSF News

NSF, NASA sign collaborative agreement to expand activities for broadening participation in engineering

The U.S. National Science Foundation and NASA have signed a memorandum of understanding establishing the framework for collaborative efforts to broaden participation in engineering.

The collaboration will involve NASA’s Minority University Research and Education program, which engages underrepresented populations through a wide variety of initiatives, and NSF’s Broadening Participation in Engineering and NSF INCLUDES programs. NSF INCLUDES supports national infrastructure for collaborations that broaden participation in STEM fields for historically underrepresented groups. NSF’s Broadening Participation in Engineering program supports research to develop a diverse, inclusive and well-prepared engineering workforce.

“The goal with this new agreement is to leverage NASA and NSF programs to build coalitions of public and private organizations who use evidence-based concepts for broadening participation of underrepresented groups in engineering,” said NSF Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources Karen Marrongelle. “NSF’s investments in engineering research and education build and strengthen a national capacity for innovation that leads to greater prosperity and a better quality of life. Through this partnership with NASA, NSF aims to build on and scale up broadening participation programs in engineering to reach underrepresented populations nationwide, a much-needed effort to build the STEM workforce of the future.”

Under the new agreement, NSF and NASA intend to collaborate on a common agenda and joint review of proposals; the agreement also provides more flexibility to support research, education, and workforce development proposals of mutual interest to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in engineering. 

“NASA and NSF have benefited from a partnership spanning decades that advances space and science research,” said NASA Associate Administrator for STEM Engagement Mike Kincaid. “This new collaboration enables NASA to leverage substantial NSF INCLUDES investments for the next generation of future explorers and innovators. Working together, our agencies can further strengthen a diverse STEM workforce that will achieve missions beyond our imaginations.”

The new partnership aims to broaden participation in engineering by expanding opportunities for institutions and organizations to engage students and researchers through NSF and NASA programs. Activities may include educational experiences for students from kindergarten through college, professional development of educators, new course and curriculum development, and workforce inclusion research.  

“This exciting collaboration between NSF and NASA brings together our complementary activities and connections,” said NSF Assistant Director for Engineering Dawn Tilbury. “As partners, we can significantly improve our ability to grow a diverse, equitable and inclusive engineering workforce and create innovations that benefit society.”

NSF’s long-standing partnership with NASA dates back to the creation of NASA in 1958. Earlier this year, the agencies signed an agreement reaffirming their commitment to advance mutually beneficial research programs ranging from astrophysics to earth system science to ocean and climate monitoring activities, with special emphasis on those activities that use NSF-managed facilities, including those in the Antarctic.

For information about NSF’s broadening participation efforts and agency programs, visit nsf.gov.  For information on NASA’s programs, visit nasa.gov.