About TSGC



Executive Summary and Consortium Impact


National Program Emphasis

Program Elements

Statement of Consortium Concurrence


15th Year Report

Program Elements

Higher Education Program

TSGCÍs Higher Education programs focus on enabling undergraduates of all levels to participate in real life research and design along side NASA personnel.

General Description

The Texas Space Grant ConsortiumÍs higher education initiatives foster development and sharing of space-related educational resources and experiences among undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in Consortium member-institutions within the state of Texas. Limited sharing of resources with other consortia has also occurred.

Through a series of design-focused multi-disciplinary programs, faculty at TSGC affiliates endeavor to inspire the next generation of science, technology, engineering, and math explorers, inventors, and designers. Through implementation of the following goals and strategic objectives, TSGC is able to focus program initiatives toward achieving the overall aim of its mission.

TSGC has committed 22% of its project budget to Higher Educational programs [roughly $500K over 5 years]. An additional $13.5M in leveraged funds was provided by JSC, KSC, Florida SG, Program Participants, and TSGCÍs Affiliates. Counting the leveraged funds, more than 96% of total resources expended on TSGC Higher Education programs over the past five years have been provided by outside sources with less than 4% provided by the NSGC&FP and matching funds.

TSGC and the National Space Grant Program established the following goals and objectives for Higher Education Programs.

  1. Stress development of interdisciplinary courses and curriculum
  2. Provide opportunities for university students to participate in space based research and exploration
  3. Stress development of introductory courses designed for students not majoring in scientific or technological disciplines
  4. Facilitate mentor relationships between university students and NASA employees
  5. Enhance pre-college teacher education
  6. Coordinate with existing state and local systemic reform efforts and with state science, mathematics, and technology coalitions
  7. Forge cooperative partnerships with informal education vehicles
  8. Develop community college initiatives
  9. Focus on involving women, underrepresented groups, and persons with disabilities in all aspects of education
  10. Develop instructional technology, technology transfer, and other technological courses that use emerging NASA developed technology
  11. Provide meaningful support to NASA research activities through university student involvement in research, design, and development
  12. Maintain a balance of participation across academic member institutions

The following table lists TSGCÍs major Higher Education projects. As noted in the 3rd column all of these projects also overlap into other programmatic areas. The table also indicates the years the projects were conducted, the scope of the project, which National and Texas goals it addresses, and the NASA center which is participating in the project.

Program/Years Scope Goals Objectives NASA Centers
TSGC Advanced Design 1995-02 Non-competitive; Texas; TSGC, UG 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 12; OR, R JSC
NASA Academy 1996-pres Competitive; Texas; TSGC, UG, GR 2, 4, 9, 11, 12: R Ames
RGSFOP 1997-01 Competitive; Nationwide; EF, UG 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11; OR, PR, R JSC
NASA Means Business 1998pres Competitive; Nationwide; EF, UG, GR 1, 2, 4, 6, 9, 11; OR, R JSC
CC Zero-G 2000-01 Competitive; Texas & New Mexico; EF, CC 1, 2, 3, 6, 8, 9, 11; OR, PR, R JSC
RGSFOP Support 2000-pres Competitive; Texas; TSGC, UG 2, 4, 6, 8, 11, 12; OR, PR, R JSC
MarsPort 2001-02 Competitive; Nationwide; EF, UG 1, 2, 4, 6, 11; OR, R KSC
TSGC Design Challenge 2002-pres Non-competitive; Texas; TSGC, UG 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12;OR, R JSC
EF-Externally Funded
CC-Community College
PR-Public Relations

Each programÍs success is measured by ongoing participation, compilation of comments and criticisms received by all participants, and effectiveness indicated by associated faculty advisors and TSGC affiliate representatives.

TSGC seeks evaluations and critical comments from each participant in each of its higher education programs, including: students, faculty advisors, mentors and journalists. Input is used to [1] provide additional resources, opportunities, and services for the students involved in TSGC programs [2] improve the programÍs overall quality, [3] better tailor the program to satisfy NSGC&FP and TSGC goals, and [4] to tailor the program to better meet constraints at affiliate institutions.

During the five year evaluation period covered by this report, the Hopwood vs. Texas ruling severely constrained some higher education program objectives. Working under this constraint TSGC chose to focus its efforts to recruit women and underrepresented minorities through targeting Minority Serving Institutions [MSI] in its Higher Education Programs. Special emphasis was placed on recruiting participation of MSIs in the TSGC Advanced Design Program. As a result half of the institutions which participated in the program were MSI. Recruitment for NASA Academy applicants was focused on MSI as well as through student organizations which catered to minorities.

Core Criteria

Undergraduate Education
Almost all of TSGCÍs Higher Education Programs focus on undergraduate education. Ninety percent of the students who participated in TSGC higher education programs were undergraduate students.

Interdisciplinary Collaborations
The primary focus of TSGC Higher Education programs over the past five years has involved undergraduate interdisciplinary design teams. These design teams, varying in size from 3 to 10 students from a variety of majors have worked on a wide array of space-related designs. Students from the following disciplines have participated in these teams: Mechanical, Industrial, Aerospace, Civil, Electrical, and Materials Engineering, Physics, and Computer Science. Many of these design projects were suggested by NASA personnel who then served as mentors for the teams.


TSGC Advanced Design Program [1995-02]
The TSGC Advanced Design Program [TADP] was initiated in 1995 as a follow on to the highly successful NASA/USRA Advanced Design Program to give undergraduate students a hands-on, interactive, team-based, interdisciplinary spacecraft design experience. Promoting cooperation and knowledge sharing among its academic institutions, TADP provided a mechanism for universities with rich histories in spacecraft design to mentor universities who were newcomers to the area. Eleven universities participated in the program, 6 of which are minority serving institutions. Representatives from the JSC, Lunar & Planetary Institute, the Canadian Space Agency, and Boeing Company participated in the program as mentors and reviewers. Design topics ranged from the extraction of Oxygen from the lunar regolith to low mass, low volume, and low power experiment platforms for Mars exploration.

NASA Academy [1996-pres]
The NASA Academy is a unique educational, training and research internship for undergraduate and graduate students interested in pursuing professional and leadership careers in aerospace-related fields. Through this 10-week resident summer internship program [co-sponsored by the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program], exceptional students are shown how the success of the aerospace program results from the interaction of government, academia, and the private sector. Since 1998 TSGC has sponsored 5 students to participate in the NASA Academy program.

RGSFOP Student Support [2000-pres]
TSGC established this program to assist Texas undergraduate students in participating in the NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program. Once selected to participate in the RGSFOP the students may apply for matching funds from TSGC to help defray the costs of participation. TSGC awards up to $3,000 for each team. In order to claim the TSGC funding the students are required to secure at least equal funding from other sources including their university. TSGC has provided funding for 11 Texas based student teams at 8 different universities.

TSGC Design Challenge [2002-pres]
As a response to NASAÍs Workforce Development Initiative, the TSGC Design CHALLENGE was initiated in Spring 2002 for undergraduate students. Although it encompasses some of the same program highlights as its precursor, TADP, its program features are unique in there own right.

Program features:

  • Open to students of any disciplinary track
  • Recruitment efforts include traditionally underrepresented groups and non-traditional disciplines
  • Course credit is required of all participants
  • Provides students with design topics from NASA scientists, which are researched and developed over one or two semesters
  • Topics are solicited by all work-areas involved in NASA-related research, including the liberal arts, engineering, human factors, nutrition
  • Each design topic includes an associated NASA mentor
  • An award program based on milestone completion enables teams to move at an individual pace and academic level while earning funding to support design project
  • Incentives include: curriculum support materials, avenues for team building and collaboration, travel for site visits, resume book, career information, NASA workplace tours, design Showcase presentations

Impact / Results

Since 1995, TSGC has steadily incorporated innovative and unique programs into higher education curricula in an effort to further its mission and goals, directly impact interest in students pursuing STEM studies and related careers, and build public interest and enthusiasm for NASA and its mission.

In an effort to reach students who may not, on a daily basis, be exposed to STEM related activities and space-related concepts in the classroom, effort has consistently been placed on recruiting students from disciplines that are not thought of as "space-related" as well as students from rural or underrepresented communities.

Many participants of TSGCÍs higher education programs have expressed interest in going onto graduate degrees in STEM studies, or work with NASA.

By focusing on these innovative programs TSGC was able to secure significant outside funding to augment and complement its Higher Education programs. During this time TSGC was able to multiply its $385K investment in Higher Education programs to $1.6M of additional funding. This represents more than a three fold increase. This investment balloons to $13.8M [or 35.8 times TSGC original investment] when in-kind support and other matching are considered.