STEM education, provided by Parallax Advanced Research through its affiliation with the Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI), equips individuals with the knowledge and skills needed for aerospace research and innovation. The Ohio Space Grant Consortium (OSGC), part of the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program and managed by OAI in collaboration with Parallax, promotes STEM education and research in aerospace. OSGC offers scholarships, internships, and research opportunities for students, as well as STEM awareness programs for K–12 teachers and students. They also fund projects related to space exploration and aim to develop a diverse STEM workforce to support NASA's aerospace projects and exploration.
The focus areas of the Ohio Space Grant Consortium include the following:
- Develop a diverse STEM workforce in Ohio and the nation: OSGC provides competitive scholarships, fellowships, and internships to students at Ohio universities. These programs include research projects and mentorship opportunities with NASA centers and industry.
- Engage students and faculty in hands-on STEM research activities: OSGC offers grants for student-led innovative and hands-on projects (SICHOP grants) and supports faculty research and curriculum development aligned with NASA research priorities.
- Support collaborative STEM research for Ohio faculty and students: OSGC provides grants and summer research and internship opportunities for faculty and students to engage in collaborative STEM research.
- Increase STEM awareness for Ohio K-12 teachers and students: OSGC exposes K-12 teachers and students to NASA education materials, offers teacher training programs and workshops, and provides mini-grants for innovative space-related projects in math, science, and computer disciplines.
- Encourage informal educational activities promoting STEM: OSGC offers grants to support informal education activities that promote STEM education in collaboration with other organizations.
- Additionally, OSGC provides various student awards, including graduate fellowships, undergraduate scholarships, pre-service teacher scholarships, and special scholarships in memory of former OSGC directors. It also supports student internships at NASA centers, industry, and universities.
- Furthermore, OSGC funds student-led programs focused on balloon satellites, rockets, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and design projects, which aim to increase student exposure to space hardware design requirements and develop practical team-building skills.
Through these focus areas, OSGC strives to foster a diverse and well-prepared technical workforce for NASA and the nation while providing opportunities for Ohioans to engage in NASA-related STEM research, education, and public service programs.
Some potential problem areas or challenges that the OSGC may address through its programs and initiatives include:
- Limited access to STEM education and research opportunities: OSGC aims to expand opportunities for all Ohioans to engage in NASA-related STEM research, education, and public service programs, particularly for underrepresented groups.
- Lack of diversity in the STEM workforce: OSGC's goal of developing a diverse STEM workforce in Ohio and the nation indicates a recognition of the need for increased representation of individuals from diverse backgrounds in STEM fields.
- Limited exposure to NASA-related education materials: OSGC seeks to increase STEM awareness for Ohio K–12 teachers and students by providing exposure to NASA education materials and offering teacher training programs and workshops.
- Insufficient funding for innovative STEM projects and research: OSGC provides grant opportunities for Ohio faculty, educators, and students to support innovative programs and research demonstrating STEM-related interests. This addresses the need for funding to advance STEM initiatives.
- Inadequate hands-on research experiences for students and faculty: OSGC offers opportunities for students and faculty to engage in hands-on STEM research activities through programs like SICHOP grants and faculty research grants. This helps address the need for practical research experiences.
- Limited resources and support for informal STEM education: OSGC encourages informal educational activities promoting STEM by providing grants for informal education projects. This helps address the need for resources and support in informal STEM education.
By addressing these problem areas, the OSGC aims to contribute to the development of a diverse and well-prepared technical workforce, enhance STEM education, and foster a future generation of professionals engaged in NASA's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields.