NASA Awards $1Million Grant to ASU

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NASA Awards ASU Million Dollar Grant to Advance Engineering/STEM 

By: Kenneth Mullinax/ASU

NASA has awarded Alabama State University a grant totaling more than $1 million dollars to enhance minority engineering programs, experimental research and more. ASU is one of only six minority-based colleges and universities across the nation to receive the grants under NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP). 

The grant in the amount of $1,198,937.75 covers a three-year budget period and is part of the $7 million overall award to the six institutions. MUREP sought proposals from minority-serving institutions of higher education for projects aimed at strengthening their support of underrepresented communities. The NASA news release announcing the awards explained that, "Creating a future for humanity in the stars and continuing to improve life on Earth are tasks NASA can only achieve by involving all of humanity." 

Dr. Michelle Foster, chair of ASU’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, submitted the successful application to NASA. 

"I am humbled and excited at our ASU receiving this grant that will help our students to expand their sights and reach with a goal of them becoming engineers," Foster said. "ASU's proposal that NASA funded through its 'Minority University Research and Education Project ' (MUREP), is titled Developing NASA Pathways to Engineering and Experiential Research for Student Success." 

Foster explained that in order to help end racial inequality in engineering, the University proposed to NASA that it fund the ASU proposal because "Engaging STEM subject-matter experts, professional organizations, social science researchers, and industry partners to create a supportive community of engineering learners can help NASA achieve its MUREP goal." 


Foster explained that the $1 million-plus NASA grant would not have been possible without the involvement of ASU President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., and ASU's Provost, Dr. Carl Pettis.  

"Both President Ross and Provost Pettis have offered me incredible advice, assessment and mentorship that has expanded my horizons and knowledge. This grant is a direct result of their involvement in strengthening and promoting ASU's STEM subjects," Foster exclaimed. 

Both President Ross and Provost Pettis praised Foster for her scholarship when speaking of the importance of the grant to ASU. 

"I am extremely grateful that Alabama State University was selected by NASA to be one of the recipients of this grant award," said ASU President, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr. "I would also like to thank Congresswoman Terri Sewell and her staff for their support in helping Alabama State University secure the funding that will help advance ASU's initiatives to increase student and minority participation in STEM-related fields. I would be remiss if I did not congratulate Dr. Michelle Foster, chair of the ASU Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, who successfully submitted the application for the grant." 

Pettis said the grant is another opportunity to advance student success.

“The University continues its endeavor to produce top-notch students in STEM fields. This NASA grant allows us to provide additional research opportunities for students in collaboration with partner institutions. The principal Investigator, Dr. Michelle Foster, along with her team are to be commended. I know they will implement the goals and objectives of the project effectively. Having a partner like NASA really expands our reach as well," Pettis added. 


NASA chose six schools to receive the MUREP grant awards that provides up to $1.2 million each for a three-year period to implement each institution’s proposal. The other institutions (in addition to Alabama State University) are the University of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts; Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, Florida;  J.F. Drake State Technical College, Huntsville, Alabama; Navajo Technical College, Crownpoint, New Mexico; and Texas A&M, Kingsville, Texas. 


ASU's Foster, the lead investigator of the University's grant, believes it is important to help increase the number of America's minority students entering into STEM-related programs and professions, especially engineering.

"For minority students, the numbers speak for themselves. Data tells us that only two-percent nationwide of minority students have degrees in or are employed in engineering and physics. Our new NASA grant allows our ASU students to study in those areas and receive degrees in them, which is important to increase diversity," Foster said."

News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.