Although only 13% of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) employees are Black or African American, huge steps are being taken to bridge that disparity.
According to a recent announcement, NASA is awarding $11.7 million to eight Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) through the new Data Science Equity, Access, and Priority in Research and Education (DEAP) initiative. DEAP is geared towards supporting HBCU students and faculty to conduct innovative data science research that contributes to NASA’s missions.
“We’re pleased to make progress through awards like this to intentionally build the STEM pipeline of the future, especially in communities of color,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy in a news release. “It’s fitting during Black History Month that we make this tangible step to build on the talent pool at HBCUs in our ongoing work to bring to the table all the talents and perspectives we’ll need to send humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond, and do amazing science throughout the solar system.”
The awarded projects have up to three years to increase the number and research capacity of STEM students at HBCUs.
“The increasing use of data science at NASA and beyond really drives home the need for a future workforce with data science knowledge,” said Mike Kincaid, associate administrator of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, which manages MUREP in a news release. “With our newest collaboration, NASA created an exciting pathway to find new talent at HBCUs.”
“NASA is tackling how to use the latest techniques in data science combined with the volumes of data produced by our missions to answer questions about our changing planet,” said Steven Crawford, senior program executive for scientific data and computing at NASA in a news release. “Working with students from HBCUs will not only engage the generation that will be most affected by these subjects but will help NASA scientists and engineers address these challenges.”