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‘Power of partnerships’: SECDEF gives commencement speech to AF Academy’s Class of 2022


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      In 2022, Oakwood University, a Historically Black College based in Huntsville, Alabama, became a first-time research institution participant in NASA’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. Partnering with SSS Optical Technologies, LLC (SSSOT) of Huntsville, Alabama, the team received a 2022 Phase I award to develop UV protective coating for photovoltaic solar cells in space. The PANDA (Polymer Anti-damage Nanocomposite Down-converting Armor) technology could be used to protect solar cells, which convert sunlight into energy but can suffer damage from UV rays.

      Prior to this STTR award, Oakwood University and SSSOT prepared for the solicitation by participating in a pilot NASA opportunity. In 2021, NASA launched the M-STTR initiative for Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) to propose for Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) research planning grants. The program is a partnership between NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP).

      The 2021 solicitation resulted in 11 selected proposals to receive M-STTR planning grants—six from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and five from Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). Oakwood University was among the selected research institution teams; with its grant, the university developed a partnership with SSSOT.

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      NASA is partnered with other government agencies, industry, and academia to conduct Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) research to benefit a future transportation system with routine flight of air taxis and drones. See the current partnerships below and in the map above.
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      AIRT
      Miami, Florida
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      A&P Technology
      Cincinnati, Ohio
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      AURA Network Systems
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      The City of Orlando
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      Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
      Arlington, Virginia
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      Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
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      National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
      Gaithersburg, Maryland
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      North Central Texas Council of Governments
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      Orlando, Florida
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      Université de Sherbrooke
      Quebec, Canada
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      U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) and U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research (ONR) 
      Moffett Field, California
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      University of Texas
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      Xwing
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      Zipline
      San Francisco, California
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      Active NASA Space Act Agreements and NASA Interagency Agreements that relate to Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) are listed here. NASA does not endorse any entity listed here. NASA works with research partners under these agreements to improve technology for the entire AAM industry’s benefit.
      AAM Partners List (PDF)
      Partnerships Contact
      Jamie Turner
      jamie.m.turner@nasa.gov
      Media Contact
      Teresa Whiting
      teresa.whiting@nasa.gov
      Facebook logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Instagram logo @NASA@NASAaero@NASA_es Linkedin logo @NASA Explore More
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    • By NASA
      The Power to Explore 2024 logo pays homage to the upcoming total eclipse in the United States.NASA NASA selected 45 student essays as semifinalists of its 2024 Power to Explore Challenge, a national competition for K-12 students featuring the enabling power of radioisotopes. Contestants were challenged to explore how NASA has powered some of its most famous science missions and to dream up how their personal “superpower” would energize their success on their own radioisotope-powered science mission. The competition asked students to learn about Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS), “nuclear batteries” that NASA uses to explore the harshest, darkest, and dustiest parts of our solar system. RPS have enabled many spacecraft to conduct otherwise impossible missions in total darkness.
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      Carl Sandifer
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      The Power to Explore Challenge offered students the opportunity to learn more about these reliable power systems, celebrate their own strengths, and interact with NASA’s diverse workforce. This year’s contest received 1,787 submitted entries from 48 states and Puerto Rico.
      “It has been so exciting to see how many students across the nation have submitted essays to NASA’s Power to Explore Challenge,” said Carl Sandifer, program manager of the Radioisotope Power Systems Program at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. “We have been thrilled to read their creative RPS-powered mission concepts and have been inspired learning about their many ‘superpowers’ that make them the bright future of NASA – the Artemis Generation.”
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      Fifteen national semifinalists in each grade category (45 semifinalists total) have been selected. These participants also will receive a NASA RPS prize pack. Finalists for this challenge will be announced on April 8 in celebration of the total solar eclipse.
      Semifinalists: Grades K-4
      Maryam Asif, Sarasota, FL Thashvi Balaji, Riverview, FL Yavuz Bastug, Peckville, PA Claire Bennett, La Grange, NC Ada Brolan, Somerville, MA Joseph Brown, Huntsville, AL Ashwin Cohen, Washington, D.C. Adara George, Lithia, FL Katerine Leon, Long Beach, CA Rainie Lin, Lexington, KY Connor Personette, Lakeland, FL Yash Rajan, Issaquah, WA Camila Rymzo, Belmont, MA Arslan Soner, Columbia, SC Zachary Tolchin, Guilford, CT Semifinalists: Grades 5-8
      Nithilam Arivuchelvan, Short Hills, NJ Nandini Bandyopadhyay, Short Hills, NJ Cooper Basi, Rocklin, CA Joshua Cheng, Rockville, MD Kaitlyn Chu, Mercer Island, WA Mayson Howell, Troy, MO Dhiraj Javvadi, Louisville, KY Aadya Karthik, Redmond, WA Subham Maiti, Bloomington, MN Meadow McCarthy, Corvallis, OR Elianna Muthersbaugh, Bluffton, SC Archer Prentice, Koloa, HI Andrew Tavares, Bridgewater, MA Sara Wang, Henderson, NV Anna Yang, Austin, TX Semifinalists: Grades 9-12
      Sabrina Affany, Fresno, CA Alejandro Aguirre, Mission Viejo, CA Sai Meghana Chakka, Charlotte, NC Khushi Jain, San Jose, CA Aiden Johnson, Virginia Beach, VA Robert Kreidler, Cincinnati, OH Zoie Lawson, Tigard, OR Thomas Liu, Ridgewood, NJ Madeline Male, Fairway, KS Dang Khoi Pham, Westminster, CA Sofia Anna Reed-Gomes, Coral Gables, FL Ava Schmidt, Leavenworth, WA Madden Smith, Loveland, OH Kailey Thomas, Las Vegas, NV Warren Volles, Lyme, CT One of last year’s winners shared drawings with his essay.Courtesy of Pollack Family About the Challenge
      The challenge is funded by the Radioisotope Power Systems Program Office in NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and administered by Future Engineers under the NASA Open Innovation Services 2 contract. This contract is managed by the NASA Tournament Lab, a part of the Prizes, Challenges, and Crowdsourcing Program in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.

      Kristin Jansen
      NASA’s Glenn Research Center
      View the full article
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