NASA, White House Advance Historically Black Scholar Recognition

Credit: NASA.

NASA and the Department of Education, in support of STEM and diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility initiatives, are hosting a competition to engage students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), ultimately bringing diverse talent into the future science, technology, engineering, and mathematics pipeline.

Modeled from another NASA STEM activity, students will participate in a Space Tank Pitch Competition hackathon at the National HBCU Week Conference in September. The conference, which features an HBCU Scholar Recognition Program, is hosted by the Department of Education.

This is the third competition hosted by the two agencies in support of the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity.

Since 2014, NASA has helped provided HBCU scholars with a compelling program with access to NASA STEM networks and resources. It is one of many elements in NASA’s expansive relationship with the White House, including a strategic plan in response to the HBCU Partners Act of 2020.

NASA’s student hackathon will concentrate on using the agency’s technologies to enhance HBCU communities. The hackathon is a modified version of the full Innovation and Tech Transfer Idea Competition (MITTIC) that takes place each fall and spring semester at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. The scholars are placed into predetermined teams and select a goal to address using a NASA technology. The teams then pitch their concepts to a panel of subject matter experts. The winning team will join the winners of the fall and spring Space Tank Pitch Competitions at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

During HBCU week, the scholars also will tour NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and take part in a special viewing of NASA’s “Color of Space” documentary highlighting the life stories of seven current and former black astronauts.

Through the HBCU Scholar Recognition Program, the White House initiative annually recognizes students from HBCUs for their accomplishments in academics, leadership, and civic engagement. Over the course of an academic school year, HBCU scholars participate in professional development through monthly classes and have access to a network of public and private partners such as NASA, which has helped increase participation in and awareness of the program.

Through their relationships with NASA, community-based organizations, and other public and private partners, HBCU scholars will also share promising and proven practices that support opportunities for all young people to achieve their educational and career potential.

To learn more about MUREP and the Mini MITTIC Challenge, visit