A first between NASA contractor, historically black universityBy Megan Norris DavidsonThe Marshall Space Flight Center marked a major milestone Feb. 18 when the first “Mentor-Protégé” signing agreement between a NASA prime contractor and a historically black college or university.The three-year NASA agreement is between Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, known as SAIC, and Oakwood University of Huntsville. Marshall’s Small Business Office oversaw the signing agreement, which coincides with Black History Month.Originating in 1926, the month is a remembrance of important people and events in black history. Historically black colleges and universities are defined as American schools established before 1964, which were formed with the intention of serving the black community. Oakwood University, originally an industrial school, was founded in 1896.Under the new pact, SAIC will aid Oakwood University with technology enhancement, contract management and business administration. “This agreement will increase the viability of Oakwood University as a business partner and potential prime contractor for future NASA projects,” said David Brock, a small business specialist in Marshall’s Office of Procurement. “It also will allow students interested in pursuing technical or engineering careers to gain experience through SAIC internships and provide potential opportunities for graduates in technical fields at NASA.”Audrey Robinson, manager of Marshall’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity and an Oakwood University alumna, spoke at the event. “As we celebrate Black History Month,” she said, “it is fitting that we take time to recognize and celebrate Oakwood University’s selection as the first historically black university to participate in the NASA Mentor Protégé Program. As an alumna, it makes me proud to see the school develop relationships with organizations such as SAIC.“Through this venture,” she added, “SAIC has the opportunity to create a more diverse work force, which can result in greater creativity and innovation. The students will have real life research and work experiences which will excite their imaginations and make them more competitive as they enter the professional arena. It’s a win-win for everyone.”The NASA Mentor-Protégé Program was established by NASA’s Office of Small Business Programs and implemented in January 2008. The program pairs large companies with eligible small businesses and institutions to establish long-term relationships, enhance technical capabilities and enable them to successfully compete for larger, more complex prime contract and subcontract awards.SAIC provides NASA and primarily the Marshall Center with information technology systems and services under the Unified NASA Information Technology Services, or UNITeS, contract. Awarded in 2004, the contract includes encryption security systems and computer networking. For more information about the NASA Mentor-Protégé Program,visit http://osbp.nasa.gov/mentor.html.Davidson, an AI Signal Research Inc. employee, supports the Office of Strategic Analysis & Communications.Participating in the NASA Mentor-Protégé signing Feb. 18 between SAIC and Oakwood University are, seated from left: Dan Harris, SAICs senior vice president; Brenda Tate, contracting officer in Marshall’s Office of Procurement; and Dr. Delbert Baker, Oakwood University president. Observing, from left, are: Bruce Emerson and Nicole Lucas of SAIC, supporting Marshall’s Office of the Chief Information Officer; Jeff Jackson, contracting officer in Procurement; Sheila Fogle, manager of Marshall’s Application, Web & Multimedia Services Office; Jonathan Pettus, director of Marshall’s Office of the Chief Information Officer; Davis Brock, small business specialist in Marshall’s Small Business Office; Glenn Delgado, assistant administrator of the Office of small business Programs at NASA Headquarters in Washington; Audrey Robinson, Manager of Marshall’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, and Byron Butler, director of the Office of Procurement. Photo by David Higginbotham.
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