News media representatives are invited to meet with
Ralph C. Thomas III, NASA’s Assistant Administrator for Small
Disadvantaged Business Utilization, on Wednesday, December 3,
at the Hamilton Crown Plaza Hotel at 14th and K Streets,
N.W., in Washington, where the Eighth Annual NASA Mentor
Protege Conference will be held December 2-3.

Thomas will discuss NASA’s dramatic progress in contracting
and subcontracting to small, minority and women-owned
businesses, particularly in the high-tech arena. Last year
NASA awarded to small businesses in virtually every category
more prime and contract dollars than ever before in its

Thomas will also discuss NASA’s Mentor Protege Program, one
vehicle the agency uses to accomplish its leadership role in
the Small Business Program area. The Mentor Protege Program
is designed to provide small disadvantaged businesses,
including women-owned businesses and minority-serving
educational institutions (proteges), with the skills to
obtain high-tech subcontracts with primarily major
corporations (mentors) that have NASA contracts. Existing
participants in NASA’s Mentor Protege Program, as well as
prospective participants, will attend the conference.

Joining Mr. Thomas will be Lamont Hames, Director of the
Mentor Protege Program, and Dr. Ernie Wu of ERC, Inc.,
Huntsville, Ala., a current program Protege, and his
company’s Mentor, Randy Lycans of the Sverdrup Corporation,
also in Huntsville. Wu’s company had a vital role in the
investigation following the accident of Space Shuttle
Columbia. Mr. Thomas, Mr. Hames, Dr. Wu and Mr. Lycans will
be available from 10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Interested media should call Marta Metelko of NASA Public
Affairs, at 202/358-1642, by 5 p.m. EST, Tuesday, December 2,
to make arrangements for interviews.

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