The SETI Institute announces its new NASA Community College Network (NCCN). This innovative program will bring NASA subject matter experts, research findings, and educational resources into the science classrooms of the nation’s community college system which, with nearly 1,200 2-year, associate degree-granting institutions represents 12 million students.


“NASA’s Science Activation program brings the unmatched STEM resources of NASA to schools, libraries and communities across the United States.,” said Dr. Simon Steel, NCCN Principal Investigator. “NCCN will amplify this reach into America’s community colleges where many students from underserved groups start their higher education.”


NCCN will consist of three key elements to support and nurture the relationship between NASA subject matter experts and community college instructors who teach astronomy, space science and related STEM courses. 


  1. NCCN will broker direct partnerships between scientists and instructors and encourage ongoing relationships that combine the scientists’ passions and knowledge with the instructors’ teaching skills and insights to give students a deeper understanding of NASA space science and the process of science itself. 
  2. NCCN will provide a database of high-quality, curated resources created by NASA scientists or dealing with NASA science that are effective for community college instructors and students.
  3. NCCN will provide professional development and training for both community college instructors and NASA subject matter experts.  The program will support or extend instructors’ knowledge of NASA science or research topics and foster or develop subject matter experts’ skills in engaging with community college or public audiences.


Two advisory groups will provide input and insight to ensure that materials and training meaningfully serve both parties. Top NASA researchers with expertise in teaching and outreach will identify and recruit interested scientists working at NASA or using NASA data.  Additionally, a complementary panel of experienced community college faculty will help ensure that NCCN meets community college instructors’ needs.


NCCN is one of the nine new proposals selected to join NASA’s Science Mission Directorate Science Activation (SciAct) Collective and becomes the third Sci Act agreement awarded to the SETI Institute, following the success of the NASA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors and Reaching for The Stars. To learn more about other SciAct programs,click here.


The core team of NCCN includes Simon Steel, Pamela Harman, Dana Backman and Coral Clark of the SETI Institute, and SETI Institute Trustee Andrew Fraknoi, Emeritus Chair, Astronomy Dept., Foothill College.   


About the SETI Institute

Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe and the evolution of intelligence. Our research encompasses the physical and biological sciences and leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning and advanced signal detection technologies. The SETI Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia and government agencies, including NASA and NSF.

Contact information

Rebecca McDonald
Director of Communications SETI Institute
189 Bernardo Ave., Suite 200
Mountain View, CA 94043