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Coalition for Space Exploration Partners With Texas Space Grant Consortium to Sponsor NASA-University Public Relations Competition

Press Release From: Coalition for Space Exploration
Posted: Tuesday, February 20, 2007

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Video link, NASA Means Business competition in 2003

NASA's Exploration Mission: And the Children Shall Reach Out - and Lead, SpaceRef

The Coalition for Space Exploration today announced a partnership with the Texas Space Grant Consortium to sponsor the 2007 NASA Means Business competition. NASA Means Business (NMB) is a program that provides an opportunity for college students in marketing, advertising and media to demonstrate and develop their skills by producing a communications plan that will inform and inspire the public to support America's space program.

The program, now in its ninth year, outlines a different theme in each yearly competition. This year, participating teams are challenged to develop a promotional plan for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. The plans must present strategies for communicating to middle- and high-school students why STEM education is important to them while also communicating to the public why STEM education is important to the U.S., its economy, its space program and its citizens.

"The mission of NASA Means Business aligns with the goals and objectives of the Coalition," said Joe Mayer, Chair of the Coalition for Space Exploration Public Affairs Team. "Younger generations, in particular, will be the very ones carrying out the next steps of the Vision for Space Exploration, and this competition connects directly to them and NASA. "

"We tell these participants to imagine what it would be like if NASA could advertise," said Burke Fort, Director of NASA Means Business. "We basically ask them, 'What would it look like? What innovative means could the space agency use to communicate using the various tools of advertising, marketing, communications and journalism?'" The teams then develop the various multimedia elements of their plan -- which include a 30-second video production and other radio, print and internet products.

"The program provides a unique opportunity to develop the next generation of professional communicators challenged to convey the value and excitement of science and technology in a highly distributed, dynamic media environment," Mayer added.

Teams assembled last September and submitted their proposals in November. Program executives selected seven finalist proposals in December that demonstrate expertise in both traditional space disciplines and some not normally associated with space. Finalists represent:

  • Arizona State University and The Art Institute of Phoenix (ASPIRE)
  • Bentley College and Boston University
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, Florida campus)
  • Miami International University
  • Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi
  • University of Houston - Clear Lake
  • University of Northern Iowa

On Feb. 26 and 27, team leaders from the finalist teams will go through an intense orientation at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), where they will meet with NASA officials and employees to learn about the inner workings of the space and exploration programs.

They will tour several JSC facilities -- including the shuttle and space station training centers, space suit lab and Mission Control Center -- to get a complete understanding of the program and its various components. They also will meet with representatives of the JSC Education, Public Affairs and Legal offices, as well as gain access to NASA's entire photograph and video archive for use in their productions.

Prior to the final presentation, teams then meet with NMB coordinators and judges to evaluate their progress, get feedback on their various projects and fine-tune elements of their promotional plan. In May, teams will present their final work to a panel of judges at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "The partnership with the Coalition provides the resources for us to expand this program," said Fort. "Over the course of the competition, we have assembled an amazing collection of ideas and communication tools. Because of the Coalition's support, we will now be able to take this collection to a much broader audience. It is a tremendous opportunity to put the students' applied creativity to its fullest use."

The Coalition for Space Exploration is a collaboration of space industry businesses and advocacy groups whose mission is to educate and inform the public on the value and benefits of space exploration and to help ensure the United States will remain a leader in space, science and technology -- key factors that will benefit every American, strengthen our nation's economy and maintain our national security. For more information about the Coalition for Space Exploration and the nation's Vision for Space Exploration, visit www.spacecoalition.com .

The Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) is a group of 36 institutions, which include universities, industrial organizations, non-profit organizations and government agencies within Texas that are joined to ensure that the benefits of space research and technology are available to all Texans. In a broader context, the National Space Grant Program, consisting of 52 Space Grant Consortia nationwide, cooperate to achieve this goal for all Americans. For more information about TSGC and its programs, visit www.tsgc.utexas.edu .

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