NASA funds interactive institute
- By Megan Lisagor
- Sep 30, 2002
NASA has awarded a contract potentially worth $379 million to a recently
formed nonprofit corporation to create an institute to conduct cutting-edge
research, develop new technologies and provide educational opportunities.
The National Institute of Aerospace is expected to be fully operational
in January. It is a joint venture between NASA's Langley Research Center
in Hampton, Va., and the newly formed National Institute of Aerospace Associates
(NIAA), which is composed of state universities and a nonprofit organization.
The education aspect could help NASA strengthen its workforce as it
faces an impending retirement wave and a shortage of students pursuing degrees
in science, mathematics and engineering.
The institute will offer master's degrees and doctorates at local sites
and via distance learning. It also plans to link the main campuses of partnering
universities to labs at Langley, building a virtual research space, according
to Charles Harris, director of the National Institute of Aerospace's management
"It's going to be very innovative and highly interactive," Harris said.
"This is a new way of doing business for Langley. This is going to foster
much greater involvement by academia to fulfill NASA's mission. The emphasis
here is on collaboration."
The National Institute of Aerospace will be housed at Langley to facilitate
agency collaboration. Langley's partners, under the umbrella organization
NIAA, include the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Foundation;
the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; the University
of Virginia; the University of Maryland, College Park; North Carolina State
University, Raleigh; North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University,
Greensboro; and the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta.
The procurement covers a five-year base period and has three five-year
options for extension. A five-year cooperative agreement also has been reached.