ontact: Jerry Berg
NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center News Center

No one’s seen girders or beams, bulldozers or cranes, hardhats, electricians or plumbers. Yet a major construction project is complete at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

Today, Marshall employees were given a sneak preview of the new Marshall Institute ñ not a building ñ but a new concept for delivering training to employees.

“The Institute is an ongoing process instead of a ‘place,'” explained Tereasa H. Washington, director of the Marshall Center’s Customer and Employee Relations Directorate. “It is based on a commitment to lifelong learning designed to further the Center’s mission. It’s particularly important to NASA that our employees get the best training possible so they can help keep the nation on the cutting edge of technology. The Institute represents a strengthened partnership between the Center and its employees.”

The Institute concept will result in a clearer focus on the Center’s space transportation, propulsion, optics and science missions, a better learning environment and better visibility for courses and other services, said Greg Walker, who heads the Employee and Organizational Development Department.

“The Marshall Institute is based on the ‘corporate university’ concept used today by some of the country’s largest and most successful businesses,” Walker said. “Those companies are using new technologies and providing more opportunities for self-paced, self-directed learning, with more people taking responsibility for their own training.”

With downsizing, outsourcing, employment relationships and technology all driving change in the workplace, Walker said, companies are seeking to meet those challenges with corporate universities. By re-engineering its training function, the Marshall Institute is following the example of corporate America.”

Among the key features of the Marshall Institute:

Managers and employees for the first time will have a catalog of courses and training that will help them create a learning plan tailored to their needs — whether it’s forklift safety, quantum physics or how to deal with difficult people, there will be a course for it in the catalog.

The Institute has established an advisory council of top Center managers to ensure its programs are aligned with the Marshall Center’s key objectives. The council will help identify and prioritize current and future training needs, link training to key business strategies and provide direction for developing a philosophy of learning.

The Marshall Institute plans to establish and maintain partnerships with industry, academia and business to keep Marshall employees abreast of the latest and best learning processes, technologies and programs.

Renovation of a new training center on the ground floor of Marshall’s Building 4200 is being completed. It will include the latest training technology and programs designed for greater impact and more accessible, accelerated, applied learning.

Other features of the Institute include a new leadership program to help the next generation of managers, a new incentive awards program to recognize individual and team performance and a comprehensive metrics program to measure results.

“What we’re trying to do is create a new spirit of learning,” Walker said. “This is how we’re going to move the Marshall Center toward a learning culture.”