NORMAL, Ala. (WHNT)-- NASA Administrator Charles Bolden is an authority on advanced science and technology in the nation.
He says he's noticed something troubling.
"What's missing, in the field, are the people of color and women," he said.
At a tour of Alabama A&M, he explained that colleges and universities, particularly HBCU's, are important to America's growth and NASA's journey to Mars.
"I just think that the nation itself is missing out on a vital resources when we fail to recognize schools and campuses like Alabama A&M," said Bolden.
Since receiving money to develop protege and mentor programs, A&M has been building engineering programs and partnerships with entities like Marshall Space Flight Center. The RISE foundation is part of what's come out of that, established to help with technology transfers, contract opportunities, and research.
"Look at what we're able to build off of those seeds that were planted," said Dr. Chance Glenn, Dean of the College of Engineering, Technology, and Physical Sciences at A&M. "They can work on real-life, meaningful, technical projects that matter."
The message of growth and success at A&M was well-received.
"We didn't just come here because it's beautiful," remarked Bolden, "although the campus is beautiful, by the way. We came here because of the potential that resides on this campus. And we really sincerely want Alabama A&M to be one of our key contractors."
"All we need is that spark," said Glenn, "and that's I think, one of the things that happened here today."