NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visits Huntsville, talks diversity in aerospace

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - At the bottom of a 1/10 size model of the SLS at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, there's a tiny gathering of plastic, but diverse scientists.

NASA wants real life to look a little bit more like it.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden explains the day's agenda, "We're actually spending some time with representatives from Historically Black Colleges and universities and Minority Serving Institutions to talk to them about the critical need for them to get involved in NASA contracting.

Alabama A&M's Dean of the Business College, Del Smith, adds, "I think the thing that really stands out here in NASA's commitment to work with Historically Black Colleges and Minority Serving Institutions and their interest in ensuring that this is a program that grows."

Across all the space industry partners, Bolden asserts, "When we look around at the work force, both contractor and NASA workforce, we find that there is a significant absence of a majority of the population, whether you're talking about minorities or women or what, particularly in leadership roles."

Gatherings like this aren't feel good exercises. They address a real need to diversify, in order to get the best and brightest working on space problems.

Smith elaborates, "In order to have that competitive advantage and to have the best and the brightest minds, you have to make sure that you're very inclusive, and that means making sure that you have a diverse set of individuals that are at the table looking at these issues."

Bolden notes, "When we put groups together that are homogeneous and we give them a problem, frequently we come up with the same answer that we had the last time, and that's sort of called insanity, when you keep doing the same thing over and over hoping for a different outcome."

NASA hopes to move one small step closer to fixing that.