NASA Launches STEM Education Initiative

Alexander Kartveli was directly involved with a 1960s-era Air Force project, called "Aerospaceplane", to design and build an orbital logistics vehicle a decade before the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) attempted a similar concept, known as the Space Shuttle.

Driven by a passion to design aircraft, Kartveli chased his dream from Tblisis to Paris and ultimately to New York. Along the way, self-teaching and perseverance propelled him to the top of his field.

Today, NASA is making it easier for kids to learn and gain practical experience in the aeronautical field.  

NASA established STEM Education and Accountability Project, or SEAP, in 2014 to help meet the goals of the NASA Strategic Plan. SEAP is the result of NASA’s continuing efforts to streamline and competitively consolidate its STEM education activities, consistent with Congressional direction.  Working in collaboration with other Federal agencies, NASA supports evidence-based, effective, NASA-unique activities in four categories:

  • Educator Professional Development: Uses NASA’s missions, education resources, and unique facilities to provide high-quality STEM content and hands-on learning experiences to K-12, informal, and preservice educators.
  • NASA Internships, Fellowships and Scholarships: Leverage NASA’s unique missions and programs to enhance and increase the capability, diversity, and size of the Nation’s future STEM workforce.
  • STEM Engagement: Provides opportunities for participatory and experiential learning activities in formal and informal education settings to connect learners to NASA-unique resources.
  •  Institutional Engagement: Increases STEM capabilities at formal and informal educational institutions and organizations by incorporating content based on NASA’s missions.

SEAP uses internal-to-NASA competition to support the most meritorious education activities within the Education offices at NASA Centers and the Jet Propulsion LaboratoryAeronautics Research Mission Directorate, and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

NASA competitively selected Informal STEM Education in June 2015 as SEAP’s top Institutional Engagement priority. Through Informal STEM Education, the NASA Office of Education, in cooperation with the Headquarters Offices of Communications, Diversity and Equal Opportunity, Chief Scientist, and Chief Technologist and the Agency’s four Mission Directorates, issued the Competitive Program for Science Museums, Planetariums, and NASA Visitor Centers Plus Other Opportunities, or CP4SMPVC+. This and other public competitions is conducted via the NASA Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System, or NSPIRES.  Become an NSPIRES member at


STEM Skills Are Vital For Personal Growth and Economic Development

The U.S. has developed as a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers, and innovators.

Many of those innovators came to the U.S. to pursue their dreams under the freedoms and opportunities provided by the U.S.'s emphasis on meritocracy.

Alexander Kartveli ventured out of his native Georgia fleeing the Bolsheviks. Leaving behind other family members, Kartveli, along with his mother, escaped turmoil and oppression to pursue a boyhood dream to design aircraft in the nascent field of aviation – an industry that resembled the freewheeling days of the early Internet.  In the U.S., he became one of the most important aviation engineers in U.S. history.

Kartveli (standing left) illustrates his aviation designs

Kartveli (standing left) illustrates his aviation designs

In a world that’s becoming increasingly complex, where success is driven not only by what you know, but by what you can do with what you know, it’s more important than ever for our youth to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and make sense of information. These are the types of skills that students learn by studying science, technology, engineering, and math—subjects collectively known as STEM.

All young people should be prepared to think deeply and to think well so that they have the chance to become the innovators, educators, researchers, and leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges facing our nation and our world, both today and tomorrow. But, right now, not enough of the world's youth have access to quality STEM learning opportunities and too few students see these disciplines as springboards for their careers.

In fact, future success in fostering a competitive economy and providing economic growth may depend on national policies that today emphasize STEM.

How do U.S. 15-year-olds compare with students from other countries in math and science?

The Kartveli Association is committed to STEM education and raising awareness of the life and accomplishments of Alexander Kartveli.