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NASA Transition Continues to Spur University, Industry Partnerships

August 28, 2013

The winding down of the space shuttle program in Florida’s Space Coast by the Obama administration in 2010 spurred a transition in NASA’s areas of focus, including an increased emphasis on commercializing technologies and industry partnerships. NASA recently announced several new initiatives with tech firms, universities, and state agencies geared toward investing in cutting-edge research and technology and developing an educated workforce.

In Northeast Ohio, a new nonprofit organization dedicated to commercializing a steady stream of NASA technologies is underway in partnership with TBED organizations and local industry leaders, reports Crain’s Cleveland Business. Called E4T for Effective Entrepreneurship Education and Economic Development for Technology, the group will recruit students tasked with finding profitable ways to use NASA Glenn technologies, the article states. Students from local colleges or high schools would work with current and retired technical experts at NASA Glenn. Organizers hope to raise enough money from foundations or the federal government to launch the effort by the end of the year. Prominent TBED groups JumpStart and BioEnterprise also have offered assistance, according to the article.

Earlier this month, NASA Langley Research Center and the Virginia Governor’s School for Science and Technology entered into a partnership to provide gifted students with the opportunity for hands-on experience and guidance in STEM fields. Through the partnership, high school students can interact with and be mentored by NASA Langely researchers on college-level STEM projects while learning about NASA’s vision, mission, programs and projects, according to a press release.

NASA also will be working with universities in 13 states on collaborative projects to demonstrate and develop technologies for small spacecraft. NASA selected the university teams from more than 100 proposals across the country. Winning teams will receive $100,000 a year with most projects lasting two years. The teams will work with engineers and scientists from six NASA centers.

The opportunity for TBED organizations to expand or develop new partnerships with NASA seems promising. Going forward, it is anticipated that NASA will take the lead on partnering with industry, state agencies and nonprofits in order to pool resources in a time of cutbacks to funding while maintaining its mission of exploration and cutting-edge discovery as described by the president.

Ohio, Virginianasa, aerospace