NASA wants more engagement with universities

Oct 4, 2012

Research at Purdue is getting the attention of a NASA official.

Mason Peck is chief technologist for the space agency and visited campus Wednesday. He wants universities across the country to know about opportunities available to students and faculty.

Peck also toured several Purdue labs to view work being done.

"There's fantastic work being done here in propulsion. A lot being done in biological systems and nanotechnology. It's really quite a range. It's one of Purdue's strengths - the combination of breadth and depth that goes on here."

He says Purdue is well represented in NASA’s Space Technology Research Fellows program with eight graduate students taking part now. There also are early career grants of as much as $200,000 per year for up to three years for faculty.

Those are two effort by the space agency to engage more with university faculty and students.

Peck says reaching out to academics has fallen off over the past decade, but that is changing.

"NASA's focus is now renewed on technology and innovation and the basic research that makes us successful. So, universities across the nation are key in making that the reality. In order to enable our future in space exploration, we must invest in technology and universities will be a big part of that."

He says greater support from Congress means NASA has more funds for its Space Technology Program. In addition to researchers at universities, Peck says businesses and individuals who have products ready for implementation will benefit as well.