The joint educational effort between Howard University and University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) targets underrepresented minority STEM students and exposes them to an early career pathway in NASA-related Earth & Space Science research. The major goal of the proposed effort is to instill interest in Earth & Space Science to Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Engineering majors early in their academic careers, so that they are engaged in NASA-related research and become motivated to pursue successful careers and be part of the future NASA workforce. To accomplish this goal, the proposed effort focuses on exposing six selected Howard University students to NASA-centric research in Solar System Exploration, Heliophysics, Astrophysics and Earth Sciences throughout their undergraduate tenure. The project takes a multi-faceted approach, with each particular year specifically tailored to each student’s strengths and addressing their weaknesses in order for them to experience a wide array of enriching research activities that help them grow both academically and professionally.
Six summer research projects are explicitly specified in the NASA OSSI system for Howard University students funded via the NASA MOO-Howard University project. The students are engaged in research with GSFC mentors, which help establish strong connections between Goddard, UMBC and Howard for the four-year duration of the project. The Howard University students are stationed full- time at Goddard during the summers that they are funded by this project. During the academic year, they are at Howard and continue their research with the Goddard mentors via regular telecons, e-mail exchanges, video chats & on an average one visit per semester to Goddard for in-person meetings with their research mentors. The students extend their research carried out over the summer with their NASA mentors throughout the academic year, culminating in a Capstone Project and a Senior Thesis. As a result of the proposed effort, the Early Opportunities Program (EOP) students, who have undergone rigorous training in the Earth and Space Sciences, are expected to be well-prepared to enter the NASA workforce.