The mission of the Minority Innovation Challenges Institute, or MICI, is to create a virtual training ground where minority undergraduate students learn how to compete in NASA technical challenges for both prestige and significant cash prizes. On Sept. 8, 2010, at 2 p.m. EDT, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will deliver a pre-recorded welcome message for the program that includes an inspirational explanation of how he started as an undergraduate student majoring in electrical engineering and built an impressive career path that led to his becoming the twelfth administrator in NASA’s history.

Administrator Bolden’s message will be followed by a live presentation from MICI organizers including Theresa Martinez, NASA MUREP Small Projects manager; Dr. Clement Allen, Florida A&M associate professor for the department of computer information sciences; and Paul Secor, president of Secor Strategies LLC, who is serving as a project coordinator for MICI. These individuals will explain how MICI works and how students and faculty can access this free year-round program that seeks to mentor students to compete in NASA technical challenges. The event will conclude with a question and answer session.

Immediately following the kick-off event will be a live presentation starting at 3 p.m. EDT from Julie Clift at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Clift will explain how students and faculty can get involved in the NASA University Student Launch Initiative. The entire month of September within MICI will be focused on this particular challenge and will feature weekly presentations on the subject.

MICI provides a year-round virtual conference platform where students from across the country can participate in free interactive educational sessions of their choosing. Many of the sessions will focus on competitions found within NASA’s Centennial Challenges program, which provides cash prizes ranging from $50,000 to $2 million. Students also will learn how to compete in other NASA-sponsored competitions created specifically for universities including the Fundamental Aeronautics Student Competition for Colleges/Universities, the NASA University Student Launch Initiative, the University Business Plan Contest for Engineering Technology, and the Great Moonbuggy Race.

Students and faculty are encouraged to register in advance for the Sept. 8, 2010, Academic Year Kick-off Event by visiting Please e-mail questions concerning this program to