HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., celebrated a major milestone Feb. 18 — the first “Mentor-Protege” signing agreement between a NASA prime contractor and a historically black college or university.

The three-year NASA agreement is between Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego, known as SAIC, and Oakwood University of Huntsville. Historically black colleges and universities are defined as American schools established before 1964, formed with the intention of serving the black community. The Marshall Center’s Small Business Office oversaw the signing agreement.

Under the pact, SAIC will aid Oakwood University with technology enhancement, contract management and business administration. “This agreement will increase the viability of Oakwood University as a business partner and potential prime contractor for future NASA projects,” said David Brock, a small business specialist in Marshall’s Office of Procurement. “It also will allow students interested in pursuing technical or engineering careers to gain experience through SAIC internships and provide potential opportunities for graduates in technical fields at NASA.”

The NASA Mentor-Protege Program was established by NASA’s Office of Small Business Programs and implemented in January 2008. The program pairs large companies with eligible small businesses and institutions to establish long-term relationships, enhance technical capabilities and enable them to successfully compete for larger, more complex prime contract and subcontract awards.

SAIC provides NASA and primarily the Marshall Center with information technology systems and services under the Unified NASA Information Technology Services, or UNITeS, contract. Awarded in 2004, the contract includes encryption security systems and computer networking. Oakwood University, originally an industrial school, was founded in 1896.

For more information about the NASA Mentor-Protege Program, visit