Puerto Rico is the Nation's leading producer of Hispanic STEM BS degree recipients with 17%, although only 9% of all Hispanic U.S. citizens reside in PR. In the last five years, 98% of the recipients of PRSGC student fellowships/scholarships have been Hispanic U.S. Citizens. The majority of the recipients, 70 percent, have been underrepresented females. This is a reflection of both, the high success rate of women in PR in obtaining access to college education, and the success of PRSGC's fellowship/scholarship program in attracting these women into NASA-related areas. The high percentage of Hispanic U.S. citizens who obtain PRSGC's fellowship/scholarships is a direct consequence of the demographics in PR and a reflection of the broad inclusive higher education system established in PR.
In alignment with the NASA Education Strategic Coordination Framework, the primary investments of PRSGC are in Higher Education (Outcome 1), while Pre-College Education (Outcome 2) and Informal Education (Outcome 3) receive secondary and tertiary investments, respectively. PRSGC has embraced undergraduate research as the pivotal strategy for workforce development. Experience shows that immersion in undergraduate research serves as a means to initiate and prepare students for graduate programs in STEM.
Research experiences supported by PRSGC range from participation in NASA-related research and education projects (300 hours per semester, 20 hours per week) under the guidance of faculty members at PRSGC affiliate institutions to internships at NASA Centers, National Labs, and Aerospace Industry (8-10 weeks full-time). The PRSGC Fellowships and Scholarships Program requires a structured research plan and research progress in addition to good academic standing. Also, the Seed Funds Program designed to help faculty members start new NASA-related research projects supports a significant number of students in research activities and research travel. Moreover, affiliate representatives sponsor research students locally at their institutions, who spend 160 hours per semester in research pertinent to NASA.
The Consortium's Pre-College Education activities target the in-service and pre-service science and math teachers in order to provide engaging and inspiring curricular materials and tools that can be transferred to the classroom. The Consortium has developed a Jurisdiction-wide network of science and math teachers who receive a substantial component of their professional development through PRSGC's workshops, which are given at specialized educator resource centers and higher education institutions all over the Island.
The Consortium's Informal Education activities are designed to inform the general public about the current NASA missions and accomplishments, and develop awareness about the cascade of societal benefits derived from the Space Exploration Missions in terms of technological advances that impact our daily lives and enhance our quality of life (i.e., NASA spinoffs). The overall strategy is to bring science and technology into the realm of the commonly heard of and spoken about topics in PR with the purpose of: (a) planting the idea of pursuing STEM careers in children and youngsters and (b) increasing the overall societal esteem for STEM career paths, so that adults provide positive feedback to young people who express interest in STEM careers.