JSU made history recently when it became the nation’s first HBCU to sign a pact to become a protégé in the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC) program that will allow the academic institution to learn how to land major government contracts.
Jackson State University’s mentor is Enterprise Services LLC, a prime contractor formerly known as HP. The agreement was witnessed by hundreds packed in the atrium of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET). Ultimately, JSU will become a prime contractor, too.
JSU President William B. Bynum Jr. described the NASA event as a “launching pad that JSU can benefit from significantly. This is without a doubt a historic day. We are doing some outstanding things. There’s nothing like being the first and earning a NASA seal of approval,” he said.
Bynum said the partnership will aid in recruitment efforts because “a big part of this program is about getting a lot of internship opportunities for our students. This will let people know that Jackson State University produces an outstanding product and outstanding students and has the capability to work with an organization like NASA.”
Tabisa Taliwaku Kalisa, program manager for the NASA Office of Small Business Programs, said her organization would be able to further achieve its mission by including institutions such as JSU.
Kalisa said, “We understand we need HBCUs. … We know that there’s a lot of opportunity and technology that we haven’t thought about. … We’re asking for your help to be able to achieve that. Working with Enterprise Services and other prime contractors helps us add technology to our missions.”
Dr. Joseph A. Whittaker, associate provost at JSU, said the HBCU is preparing to create its own path. He described the signing ceremony as “the beginning and the foundation for which we move forward; we have come a long way historically. This is one step in the process.”
He emphasized that this partnership “goes beyond just leveraging our knowledge and existing capabilities of the university – the technical capital and knowledge capital.”
He said, “The important thing about this is that it’s for everyone. Staff, faculty and students will benefit from these capabilities and the potential skill set that will come from this agreement with Enterprise Services.” However, he said at some point Enterprise will “let us go, and we’re going to take the lead.”
Whittaker added, “As a university, we don’t always think about doing business in a way like our corporate partners. But part of this is to help us to grow in that direction.”