UNO NASA program receives designation


By Beth Flynn

UNO’s NASA Nebraska Space Grant Consortium received word of approval from NASA to become a designated grant consortium.

The other two new designated consortia are the Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium and the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium.

What does this grant mean for UNO? Michaela Schaaf, assistant director of the NASA Nebraska Space Grant Consortium, said the grant is substantial for Nebraska.

“We are one of three states funded, making us the highest funded Space Grant and EPSCoR program in the country,” she said.

A lot of hard work and time went into this proposal, which began in February 2002 and had to be into NASA by June 2002.

“It was a comprehensive effort throughout the state to combine all of our aerospace research and education activities into a plan for the future,” Schaaf said.

The consortia were approved based on the evaluation of the different state programs and future to increase the strength of education in the areas of science, mathematics, engineering and technology.

NASA’s Education Division and the Office of Human Resources and Education sponsored the competition, held at the NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

With this proposal approval, Nebraska’s funding for the program has almost doubled. This money will be used for more scholarships and fellowships.

It also has increased the amount of research money that will be available to University of Nebraska faculty.

Along those lines, the number of travel grant opportunities for students and faculty to attend national conferences has also increased. This allows the program to expand the number of aerospace curriculum offerings in Nebraska.

This national program allows for flexibility in order for the states to determine which priorities are important to their state or region.

“We specifically focused on issues important to Nebraska, such as remote sensing activities and the future of general aviation,” Schaaf said.

UNO is the lead institution for space programs in the state of Nebraska.

The new funds are given to UNO first, and the money will be distributed among the schools based on needed amounts.

Each school will receive a minimum of two scholarships. The other schools in Nebraska this will involve are the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Creighton University, the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Chadron State College, Western Nebraska Community, College of St. Mary’s, Nebraska Indian Community College, Metro Community College, Grace University, Hastings College and Little Priest Tribal College.

Fifty-two states, including the District of Columbia and Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, make up the National Space Grant Program. This program, mandated in 1987 by Congress, strives to carry out programs for education, public service and research.

After approving the three states, there are now a total of 28 on the designated consortia level.

For more information on this program and for scholarship opportunities, go to its Web site at


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