NASA awards Alabama State University $1.2 million grant to advance engineering, STEM

NASA awards Alabama State University $1.2 million grant to advance engineering, STEM
Alabama State University aims to use a NASA grant of almost $1.2 million to provide students more research opportunities and boost their success in engineering and other STEM fields. (Alabama State University)

NASA has awarded Alabama State University a grant of nearly $1.2 million to enhance minority engineering programs, experimental research and more. ASU is one of six colleges and universities across the nation receiving the grants under NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP).

The grant in the amount of $1,198,937.75 covers a three-year budget and is part of a $7 million overall award to the six institutions. MUREP sought proposals from minority-serving institutions of higher education for projects aimed at strengthening its support of underrepresented communities. “Creating a future for humanity in the stars and continuing to improve life on Earth are tasks NASA can only achieve by involving all of humanity,” a NASA spokesperson said.

Michelle Foster, chair of ASU’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, submitted the successful application to NASA.

“I am humbled and excited at our ASU receiving this grant that will help our students to expand their sights and reach with a goal of them becoming engineers,” she said. ASU’s proposal was titled “Developing NASA Pathways to Engineering and Experiential Research for Student Success.”

“Engaging STEM subject-matter experts, professional organizations, social science researchers and industry partners to create a supportive community of engineering learners can help NASA achieve its MUREP goal,” Foster said.

Michelle Foster, chair of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Alabama State University, submitted the proposal that snagged a $1.2 million NASA grant for ASU. (Alabama State University)

She said the NASA grant would not have been possible without the involvement of ASU President Quinton Ross and ASU Provost Carl Pettis.

“Both President Ross and Provost Pettis have offered me incredible advice, assessment and mentorship that has expanded my horizons and knowledge. This grant is a direct result of their involvement in strengthening and promoting ASU’s STEM subjects,” Foster said.

Ross and Pettis praised Foster for her scholarship.

“I would also like to thank Congresswoman Terri Sewell and her staff for their support in helping Alabama State University secure the funding that will help advance ASU’s initiatives to increase student and minority participation in STEM-related fields,” Ross said.

Pettis said the grant is another opportunity to advance student success. “This NASA grant allows us to provide additional research opportunities for students in collaboration with partner institutions,” he said.

The other institutions receiving NASA grants are the University of Massachusetts Boston, Florida A&M University, J.F. Drake State Technical College in Huntsville, Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint, New Mexico, and Texas A&M University.

Foster said it’s important to help increase the number of minority students entering STEM-related programs and professions, especially in engineering.

“Data tells us that only 2% nationwide of minority students have degrees in or are employed in engineering and physics. Our new NASA grant allows our ASU students to study in those areas and receive degrees in them, which is important to increase diversity,” she said.

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