NASA’s Denna Lambert talks with BLACK ENTERPRISE about NASA’s diversity initiative.
The NASA Space Tech Catalyst Prize recognizes and rewards individuals and organizations in the United States that employ effective strategies to engage underrepresented and diverse space technology innovators, researchers, technologists, and entrepreneurs.
The prize is currently open to teachers, mentors, individuals, universities, non-profits, and businesses.
In an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE, Denna Lambert, Early Stage Innovations & Partnerships (ESIP) and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) lead at NASA, emphasized the critical role of diversity in propelling space technology innovation forward.
The Selection Criteria
As NASA strives to learn from successful outreach efforts, this initiative aims to pave the way for future engagement and capacity-building efforts through diverse community contributions to cutting-edge space technology research and development.
“We want to see the work applicants are doing,” shares Lambert. “We are looking for impact, relevancy, strategy, and how well you integrate with the community you serve.”
Applicants are required to show NASA in a short-form video what actions they are taking in their field.
“We do ask for a 2-minute video, and it does not have high-production value,” laughs Lambert. “Keep it simple. In a 2-minute video, tell us your story and then provide us with two references so we can verify the receipts.”
NASA’s Broader Goals Of Promoting Diversity And Fostering Innovation
NASA’s goal through the Space Tech Catalyst Prize is to see new people taking advantage of the opportunities NASA offers. NASA sets the requirements, but there is a push to add a balance of industry and academia.
“We have phase one opportunities, and now we are starting to have more of phase zero,” Lambert says.
For Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), a technical assistance grant is available to help build a team to better propose your opportunities.
Lambert emphasizes that “it’s not only seeing where people propose but seeing new entrants win! The best indicator of our success is seeing new entrants win, be selected, meet the technical criteria, and show strong innovative concepts.”
Advice And Encouragement For Applicants
The Space Tech Catalyst Prize breaks down the wall for those who think their stuff is not good enough or needs testing.
The number-one thing is do not opt out! Whoever you are, apply and bring your best stuff, advises Lambert.
Think beyond the application. Join in with someone where it makes sense. “A lot of our missions have hundreds of people on their teams. It’s not just one person’s idea, it’s the contribution of the collective,” she says.
Help spread the word. “I want everybody interested in this initiative to apply for the NASA Space Tech Catalyst Prize and get involved,” stresses Lambert.
How To Apply
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Source: Black Enterprise