Higher Education Student Programs


Established by Congress in 1988 and implemented by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1989, the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (also known as Space Grant) contributes to the nation's science enterprise by funding research, education, and public service projects through a national network of 52 university-based Space Grant consortia. These consortia administer programs in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The  820 affiliates include 531 academic institutions and 80 businesses. Other partners include state and local government agencies, other federal agencies, and nonprofit organizations.  The Space Grant network is inspiring “the next generation of explorers” through a myriad of programs.

NASA Rhode Island Space Grant Consortium    Chassis millingChassis milling

The NASA RI Space Grant Consortium (RISG) goals are: (1) to encourage undergraduate and graduate university students (especially women and minorities) to explore NASA-related science research and engineering as careers; (2) to use space-related science as a vehicle for enhancing scientific literacy among educators and their students in Rhode Island; and (3) to provide seed grants for NASA-relevant research.

RISG has been operating from lead institution Brown University since 1991.  Since that time, more than 100 graduate fellowships and 180 undergraduate scholarships have been distributed to students at RISG Affiliate Institutions (see back for list).  RISG is dedicated to promoting science, math, engineering, and technology at all levels, from K-12 to colleges and universities, from industry to the general public, with NASA space exploration and research as a hook to kindle interest and enthusiasm.

Research and Higher Education

Faculty and research associates at RISG Affiliate Institutions can propose for seed funding for work done in promising and innovative new directions. The proposed research must have strong NASA relevance and there is a federally required 1:1 match prerequisite (contact the RISG office for more information). The goal is to translate these seed awards into full NASA awards from nationally available opportunities. RISG is the go-to resource for information pertaining to NASA opportunities: from on-site NASA Center faculty research opportunities to information on NASA Notices of Opportunity in specific research areas.  Awardees must be US Citizens.

Industry partners bring real-world problems and strategies to higher education through undergraduate and graduate student internships, provide adjunct faculty to teach industry-specific courses, and contribute through mentorships for students throughout the state. Additionally, people from beyond RI may be tapped to bring industry expertise to our colleges and universities in support of education and research.

In addition to our support of Fellows and Scholars research, we have special programs for short-term research enhancement of special projects for both graduate students and undergraduates. One goal behind this support is to encourage these students to continue in their space-related fields and to help guide them into science, math, and technology related careers within NASA, higher education, or industry.

The undergraduate enhancement programs include direct grants and matching Brown UTRA grants, as well as providing stipends for RI students accepted as summer interns at various NASA centers or programs.

We also fund student travel to professional meetings and special activities or opportunities for undergraduate students that would be otherwise impossible without this funding.

Faculty and researchers are supported through our higher education programs as well.

Seed funding for start-up research projects, support for student assistants, funding to develop new undergraduate-level courses, and travel costs for professional meetings are competed for through our faculty level programs.

Undergraduate Professional Interaction Enhancement Program

Supports travel for undergraduates to attend scientific meetings.

Undergraduate Research Enhancement Program

Enables undergraduate science students to experience a research project with a faculty member in their field through direct and matching grants. Also provides a stipend for RI students accepted as summer interns at various NASA centers or NASA Academy programs (if resources are available).

Visiting Lecturers Program

Enhances the number of visiting lecturers that can be brought to RI campuses by contributing co-funding with other departments or university groups to make it possible for top science lecturers to come to the university.