Johnson Space Center Hispanic Employee Resource Group Receives Innovation Team Award

The Johnson Space Center (JSC) Hispanic Employee Resource Group (HERG) has been selected to receive the JSC Director’s Innovation Team Award on September 11, 2018 at 2:30 p.m. in the Teague Auditorium.

In 2015, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans recognized the HERG as a “Bright Spot.” The HERG has led a variety of initiatives to increase engagement by Hispanics both domestically and internationally.

The HERG has established multiple partnerships by its relationship with the Mexican Space Agency (AEM), including attendance at the Mexican Science and Technology Week (MSTW). For 5 consecutive years, 100,000+ people have interacted with HERG members, viewed NASA exhibits, and learned about the work done at JSC – also allowing the HERG to foster relationships with other entities such as the Space Generation Advisory Council.

A significant accomplishment was the trilateral Space Act Agreement (SAA) in 2016 between NASA, AEM, and the Mexican Directorate General for Educational Television to produce a Spanish version of the NASA program “Space to Ground,” a weekly program that summarizes activities onboard the International Space Station (ISS). “Espacio a Tierra” reaches 22 countries and 58+ million people. The SAA also allows for NASA-themed Spanish educational materials; the HERG develops and disseminates these materials. The visibility of “Espacio a Tierra” also led to other opportunities with Spanish-language media including Telemundo, Univision, and Televisa, featuring several JSC Hispanic female employees in TECHNOLOchicas.

The HERG’s partnerships also support space exploration. HERG members work with employees from Ames Research Center as technical advisors for AztechSat, the first Mexican payload to the ISS and with a group of students from Bogota, Columbia for EVA suit prototypes for NASA.

In addition, the HERG also led the creation of “Space Loteria,” a bilingual educational outreach tool that teaches space vocabulary in a culturally relevant way. This bingo-like game from Mexico features NASA communications priorities including Earth Right Now, ISS, Mars, Solar System and Beyond, Aeronautics, and Technology. “Space Loteria” has become a flagship educational outreach activity for NASA. In addition to reaching thousands of students, parents, and teachers, it’s also provided free to the public through a partnership with the NASA STEM Education Professional Development Collaborative.

The HERG has become a catalyst for innovation by collaborating with multiple NASA centers, programs, contractors, grant recipients, and international organizations. The return on investment of these groundbreaking successes in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and education has been remarkable. For this reason, the HERG is well deserving of a JSC Director’s Innovation Team Award.