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Academic Initiative

2021 Breakthrough, Innovative, and Game-Changing (BIG) Idea Competition

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • The BIG Idea Challenge is managed by the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) on behalf of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
  • 01/18/2022
  • https://bigidea.nianet.org

Program Overview

Program Benefits

  • A variety of award sizes is expected (up to $180,000 max), depending on the scope of the work proposed. Proposers are encouraged to request what is actually needed to conduct the proposed work.

Program Contact

  • bigidea@nianet.org


  • Southeast
  • United States of America
  • 1100 Exploration Way, Hampton, VA 23666, USA

Type Of Program


  • Collegiate

  • Faculty

  • Graduate


  • Aerospace Engineering




Research, Roles & Responsibilities

Research Components

  • Development of intellectual property

  • Funding to attend professional development sessions/coursework

  • Mentor honorarium/stipend

  • Mentored research experience(s)

  • Stipend/compensation

Identity & Inclusion

  • The BIG Idea Challenge also offers real-world experience for university students in the development of the systems needed to support NASA’s exploration goals. This competition is intended to be an open innovation challenge with minimal constraints so that proposing teams can genuinely create and develop out-of-the-box solutions.

Race/Ethnic Minority Group

  • African American/Black

  • Alaska Natives

  • Asian American

  • European American/White

  • Hispanic/Latino

  • Native American

  • Native Hawaiians

  • Other

  • Pacific Islander

Inclusionary Practices/Activities

  • Development Of Academic Sense Of Belongingness (E.G. Meetings With Doctoral Scholars, Peer Researchers, Exchanges At Academic Conferences)


Mentoring Components

  • Mentees Are Allowed To Attend Events With Mentors

    I.E. Dinners, Social Events, Conferences, Retreats) Mentees Are Allowed To Attend Events With Mentors (I.E. Dinners, Social Events, Conferences, Retreats

  • Mentees Are Shown Academic Customs, Pitfalls, Departmental Politics And Taboos

  • Mentors Exchange Social Displays Of Scientific Knowledge And Practices

  • Mentors Provide Mentees With Access To Academic Resources

  • Mentors Provide Support With Academic Or Discipline Specific Knowledge Through Direct Teaching

Empowering Activities

  • Academic Recognition (I.E. Research Credibility, Prestige)

  • Feeder Pathways

  • Publication Opportunities


Key Performance Indicators


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