NASA University (NASA U) addresses three priority needs:
NASA U is located at Ames Research Center because
- First, it aims to overcome the false dichotomy between education and research by recognizing that not only do outstanding research outcomes generate new learning, but the reverse is also true. Outstanding learning programs seed breakthrough research.
- Second, the NASA Administrator has made education a top priority for NASA.
- Third, NASA Headquarters has identified a shortage of students being trained to meet future workforce needs for scientific and technological excellence.
NASA U evolved from the original NASA Academy for Astrobiology, which has been conducted for seven years at NASA Ames in collaboration with the NASA Space Grant Consortia, Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and NASA Ames Research Center. Nearly 400 students have applied to the Academy; 91 have been accepted. Academy graduates have received many honors, e.g. Churchill Scholar at Oxford, Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Marshall Scholarship. 35% are pursuing Ph.D.’s;
13% are pursuing MD degrees; 50% are pursuing Master’s degrees. Graduates of the
NASA Academy for Astrobiology have been employed at many NASA Centers, including
Ames (9), Dryden (1), Goddard (2), JPL (2), Johnson Space Center (4), and Kennedy
Space Center (1).
- Ames is a pioneer in the application of a cross-disciplinary approach in science, technology, and projects.
- Ames supports all NASA Strategic Enterprises and is a technical bridge to transfer skill, knowledge and technologies among NASA Enterprises.
- Ames is NASA’s Center of Excellence in Information Technology and Systems: research in supercomputing, networking, numerical computing software, visualization, bio-inspired computing, artificial intelligence, and human factors.
- Ames is the lead NASA Center for Astrobiology, for understanding the effects of gravity on living things, and the hub for the NASA Astrobiology Institute.
- Ames plays a major role in understanding the origin, evolution, and distribution of stars, planets, and life in the universe.
- Ames conducts unique research in atmosphere and ecosystems science in support of Mission to Planet Earth and the protection of the global environment.
Some have gone on to the International Space University Summer program; alumni are enrolled at most of the NASA Astrobiology Institute lead institutions.