The Aerospace Corporation is strategically broadening and expanding its commitment to DEI by implementing new programs that provide technical and scientific career training to K-12, undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented communities. The Aerospace Rising Stars Program, which includes existing initiatives such as the Wanda M. Austin STEM Scholarship, provides diverse students with pathways to higher education. The program's portfolio of initiatives collectively serves as a platform for multi-faceted and customizable collaborations between these students and academia, faculty and Aerospace.
The objectives of the Rising Stars Program are to increase the number of diverse students and females in STEM disciplines and industry, while also providing an environment that enhances their personal and professional development and facilitates their entry and continued success in academic, industrial and research careers.
This year, Aerospace launched several initiatives designed to increase representation of diverse students in technical and scientific disciplines by facilitating conduits to universities. Among these is the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship Program for Black and African American students of all genders who are early in their undergraduate careers. Similarly, the USC Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Aerospace Corporation Research Fellowship provides a pipeline of female graduate students, while the California State University Long Beach Aerospace Corporation, Dean’s Leadership Academy Scholarship likewise provides a pipeline of diverse undergraduates, many of whom are first-generation college students. In addition, the Aerospace “Aspires” College Bridge Program has been established at Loyola Marymount University.
In partnership with Howard University, Aerospace has also established the Howard AeroFellowship Program for undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree students, with similar HBCU scholarship programs for Morgan State University and North Carolina A&T in the planning stages.
In addition to these initiatives, Aerospace doubled its Graduate Education for Minorities (GEM) fellow hires to 10 this year while greatly increasing the diversity of its intern class, with females now comprising 39% of the total and people of color comprising 57%.
This year also saw the launch of UPLIFT, an invitation-based seminar series created by the Aerospace Physical Sciences Laboratories (PSL) to connect Ph.D. students, post-docs, faculty and space industry professionals with our science and engineering community. UPLIFT facilitates collaborative relationships between our staff and promising talent from historically underrepresented groups by providing opportunities to engage with our organization to share research and diverse perspectives.