The overall goal of the Montana Space Grant Consortion (MSGC) Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Program is to foster deeper collaborations between NASA, Space Grant, and Montana's seven Tribal Colleges (TCs). The current focus consists of two projects. The Ground Remote Sensing (GRS) Prject allows computer engineering, information technology, environmental science, and forestry students to conduct research about their tribal lands. The Aurora Detector (AD) Project will provide opportunities for science, math, engineering, and technology students to engage in research about observing the aurora borealis in their area.
A team of TC faculty, faculty active in relevant research at Montana State University (MSU), MSU stduents, TC students and MSGC staff work together to build and provide the tools and training necessary for the projects. The main focus of this effort is the TC undergraduate students, of which there are 60. Each student who completes a research project receives a research stipend for the 2010 summer and 2010-2011 academic year.
There are several benefits. TC students gain an appreciation and excitement for science that may potentially cause them to pursue a degree at a four-year college. It gives TCs funding for research that they may not otherwise receive. The projects can be self-sustained, and the knowledge gained by the student projects will be contributing to science of wide interest to Montanans, such as earth sciene, ecosystem science and aurora borealis. The network of aurora detectors will contribute to a national goal to expand our understanding of when and where aurora are likely to be observed. The unique projects will also make the TCs more competitve in future funding competitions.