A ‘Cooler’ NASA Will Attract a New Generation of Innovators

3 mins read

NASA_logoNASA has launched an initiative that will help reach tomorrow’s leaders and innovators and get a younger generation to consider the space agency as a first choice for employment.

On OpenNASA.com, a collaborative blog written by NASA employees  and occasional invited guests, Nick Skytland, a project manager within the Space Life Sciences Directorate at the NASA Johnson Space Center, writes how tomorrow’s leaders want to work for the “cool” company, the next Google, or a company that is open to new ideas.

“And so I wonder, how do we make NASA cool again? How do we use our space program as a catalyst to pass along that innovative, entrepreneurial, American spirit that got us to the moon in less than 10 years and launched a generation of innovators?” Skytland asks. “Or better yet, how do we communicate all the cool things NASA is actually doing?”

Skytland’s solution is to get more people involved in the various programs NASA has. By allowing people to engage and participate, a company can attract the “best and the brightest,” he said.

“Whether NASA is designing the next exploration missions, using social networks to allow students to interact directly with astronauts living in space or creating a cutting-edge cloud computing platform to give the public unprecedented access to scientific data, NASA is engaging the American public in its mission,” Skytland writes.

Highlighting some of NASA’s programs, Skytland mentions how the agency has created Nebula, a cloud computing platform that helps NASA scientists and researchers share large, complex data sets with external partners and the public. NASA has also through its extensive use of social media engaged the public and collected ideas for improving the agency’s openness and transparency.

As the next step in its mission to engage, Skytland announced how NASA is establishing a new Participatory Exploration Office, which will encourage and promote public participation into NASA’s mission to directly engage citizens in exploration. The new office will also support research on new technologies that can increase public participation, coordinate NASA-wide efforts to incorporate new participatory exploration approaches into future work, and act as a clearinghouse for identifying and communicating best practices internally to NASA and externally to communities.

“People want to be personally engaged,” Skytland writes. “People want to see how they fit into the big picture. People, of all ages, want to be inspired. So that’s our challenge. We call it ‘participatory exploration’ – creating a government agency that engages the American public in its mission and inspires the next generation of explorers, no matter what they want to be when they grow up.”

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