The NASA Academy is an intensive summer project for highly motivated and successful undergraduate and graduate students. The academy's purpose is to bring together the likely future leaders in space activity so that they learn at an early stage how NASA functions and become acquainted with each other personally and professionally. Support is provided by the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Project and a few commercial sponsors. Each year, the academy selects high-achieving students in a variety of academic disciplines from U.S. universities across the country.
The NASA Academy is not a 9-5 summer research internship program. It is a rigorous, immersive experience that will challenge the participants and push them outside their comfort zones. It offers interns an intense learning experience that is either space- or aeronautics-based. All academy students will be immersed in a NASA environment where they will experience the agency from both inside and outside perspectives. Added interaction with NASA collaborators in industry and academia will provide exciting and unforgettable summer experiences to engage and capture students within the NASA family.
Students are invited to participate based on the following selection criteria:
--Demonstrated interest in space.
--Demonstrated research or project experience.
--High academic standing, at least a 3.2/4.0 GPA.
--Demonstrated leadership ability.
--Demonstrated maturity as a student and individual.
The 10-week, NASA Academy curriculum combines a valuable research experience with a residential leadership development experience. Academy participants, known as Research Associates, or RAs, spend four days per week working full-time on an individual research project with a NASA scientist or engineer, called their Principal Investigator, or PI. These projects offer a challenging learning experience in which the RAs do hands-on research side by side with their mentors. Projects are typically cutting-edge topics that teach the RAs about the latest in NASA research and development. The RAs demonstrate the progress of their research in the annual Intern Poster Expo. The Academies conclude with final oral presentations and a graduate ceremony
The individual and group projects are enough to give the RAs a "full-time" load. The curriculum is complemented, however, by many other activities designed to teach the RAs about the intricacies of the space program. Participants make field trips to several NASA centers, academic institutions and commercial aerospace companies. The academy includes interaction with space experts and leaders and a broad lecture curriculum. The RAs are required to take care of several other responsibilities, such as writing thank-you notes for speakers, designing a team logo, inviting speakers and preparing introductions for them. The busy schedule teaches the RAs professionalism, time management and resourcefulness.
After the summer session, RAs are inducted into the NASA Academy Alumni Association, or NAAA. The NAAA is a registered 501(3C) organization that supports the missions of NASA and the NASA Academy, provides a network for communication and support for alumni, and competitively awards travel grants to students to present technical papers at conferences. After 15 years, among its more than 800 alumni are hundreds of members with doctorates, 45 employees of NASA centers, 65 NASA contractors, 70 other professionals in aerospace-related fields, over 50 professors in academia, and three CEOs, with approximately 70 percent of the alumni currently having completed or completing advanced degrees. In addition, academy alumni account for hundreds of scholarship awards, space agency awards, national awards, professional society awards, and university awards, including five NASA Harriett G. Jenkins Pre-Doctoral Fellows during the past five years -- with at least one in every cohort. Academy alumni are responsible for hundreds of presentations, projects, publications and patents.
The NASA Academies at each NASA center will have different areas of focus: Space/Aerospace (NASA Academy), Robotics, Aeronautics, and Propulsion. The academy opportunities are listed below:
[NOTE: "Leadership" is a common attribute in the academies, not restricted to the Space Academy]
have a broad interdisciplinary focus on space/aerospace coupled with science, engineering, technology and commercial ventures.
* NASA Academy at NASA's Ames Research Center (Mountain View, Calif.)
* NASA Academy at NASA's Glenn Research Center (Cleveland, Ohio)
* NASA Academy at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (Huntsville, Ala.)
have additional emphasis on integrated systems research, project management, and multidisciplinary collaboration.
* NASA Aeronautics Academy at NASA's Glenn Research Center (Cleveland, Ohio)
* NASA Aeronautics Academy at NASA's Langley Research Center (Hampton, Va.)
* NASA Aeronautics Academy at NASA's Ames Research Center (Mountain View, Calif.)
* NASA Aeronautics Academy at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center (Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.)
* NASA Robotics Academy at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (Huntsville, Ala.)
* NASA Propulsion Academy at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (Huntsville, Ala.)
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NASA Academy Alumni Association
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Additional Contact Information
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NASA Student Opportunities Podcast
Listen to archived interviews with students who participated in the NASA Academies project. (Note: Content was accurate at the time of publication.)
› Evan Anzalone
› Omar Mireles
› Ashley Korzun
› Lauren Edgar
› Christine Gabrielse