08:08 AM

USRP Receives NASA Award for Management Excellence

The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is proud to announce that the significant strides made over the last two years by NASA's Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP) - including USRP's growth into NASA's largest undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) internship program - have been recognized with the selection of the USRP management team for a NASA Group Achievement Award for Excellence in Management. USRA, in collaboration with NASA's Johnson Space Center, has managed the USRP since January, 2008, and has implemented an impressive range of enhancements to the program.

Under USRA management, USRP has grown from a summer focused internship program averaging 125 participants per year to a year-round program with over 150 internships per semester and an annual total of 345 internships. In order to effectively manage this rapid expansion USRA designed and implemented a comprehensive web-based system for managing the program from student application through intern selection and assignment, and into post-internship follow-up. The system also provides for collection and documentation of outcomes and results, allowing for sophisticated tracking and reporting of program metrics. USRA also developed program recruiting strategies that have resulted in an over 200% increase in the number of student applicants and have significantly enhanced program diversity - as demonstrated by the current applicant pool with 31% minority and 30% female applicants.

The value of these enhancements was shown in a series of surveys conducted for USRP from January 2008 through August 2009 indicating an impressive 99% satisfaction rate among USRP students and mentors. During the same time frame NASA USRP mentors valued USRP intern contributions to their technical NASA mission at $11 million - representing a net project return-on-investment of $4.4 million.

USRA USRP Project Administrator Sheri Klug stressed the significance of these results, noting that 'The results of the USRP Mentor and Student Surveys are a true indication of success for USRP. USRP Mentors have rated this program as one of NASA's top workforce development programs and we are very proud to be of service to our NASA Scientists and Engineers at such a high level.' Bryan Dansberry, NASA USRP Project Lead further emphasized the program's success, stating that 'Through the efforts of the coordinators at each NASA worksite, leadership of JSC Education Office personnel, and the innovation and dedication of personnel employed through USRP's Cooperative Agreement partner (USRA), this education project has generated outcomes which are setting the bar for NASA internship and co-op programs.'

The NASA Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP) is one of most comprehensive internship programs for undergraduate students in STEM majors. USRP internships give students the ultimate workforce preparatory experience through immersive opportunities that combine scientific research with professional hands-on engineering. Students work on practical problems that will see real applications in aerospace or on future NASA missions. To learn more about USRP go to http://usrp.usra.edu .

Established in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences, USRA is a private, nonprofit consortium of 105 universities offering advanced degrees in space- and aeronautics-related disciplines. USRA's mission is to conduct leading-edge research, develop innovative technologies, promote education and policy across the breadth of space science, and operate premier science and technology facilities by involving universities, private industry and government.