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Cal State L.A. receives $5-million NASA grant for research center

Cal State L.A. has been awarded a $5-million grant to conduct NASA-related research and education to help train a new generation of scientists and engineers.

Under the five-year grant, the University will establish a Data Intensive Research and Education Center in STEM to create academic and research opportunities in critical science, technology, engineering and math fields for students from underserved communities.

The goal is to strengthen the nation's base for aerospace research and development, spur participation by faculty and students at minority serving institutions, and increase the number of undergraduate and graduate degrees in NASA-related fields.

"We are looking forward to collaborating with NASA to create a center where research and scholarship can flourish for the benefit of our students, our region and our nation," Cal State L.A. President William A. Covino said. "By diversifying the ranks of students who graduate in STEM fields, we help create richer research environments."

NASA reviewed 76 proposals and selected 10 universities as award recipients under the agency's Minority University Research and Education Project. Cal State L.A.'s proposal was prepared by principal investigator Hengchun Ye, a geosciences professor and department chair.

"With rapid development in scientific research technologies for handling massive data, there is a pressing need to train a new generation of scientists and engineers with skills in scientific computing and data analysis," Ye said.

The center will be housed in the Department of Geosciences and Environment and will be supported by the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology, the College of Natural and Social Sciences and the Charter College of Education. Faculty and students will focus on collaborative research and training in areas of hydrology and climate change, computational physics, and cloud computing that directly contribute to NASA's mission.

Cal State L.A. faculty involved with the center include Jiang Guo, of computer science; Jingjing Li, of geosciences; Sonya Lopez, of civil engineering; Susan Terebey, of physics and astronomy; Borislava Gutarts, of mathematics; Daphne Liu, of mathematics; and Paula Arvedson, of curriculum and instruction.

"I am looking forward to working with a great team of faculty from across disciplines throughout campus in order to help equip our students for the highly competitive workforce," Ye said.

The center will partner with UC Irvine's Data Science Initiative and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Center for Data Science and Technology.

NASA previously awarded Cal State L.A. $11 million in grants to fund a center that featured two laboratories: the Structures Pointing and Control Engineering (SPACE) laboratory and the Multidisciplinary Flight Dynamics and Control (MFDC) laboratory. That center was the first NASA research facility established on a campus in the California State University System, which is the largest university system in the United States.

Provided by California State University, Los Angeles