Every year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) gathers up some of the massive amounts of data the agency collects, identifies a few mission challenges it wants to address and puts out the call around the world for help. The annual Space Apps Challenge is the result, a 48-hour hackathon where teams from across 61 countries conceive and design solutions to tackle those problems.
The results are stunning. In this year’s challenge, the award winners designed everything from an educational app for kids to a “Mars hopper,” a flight vehicle that could make it easier to travel around the red planet. On this week’s episode of the Public Impact Podcast, I talked with Beth Beck, the Open Innovation Program Manager at NASA about the challenge, about the need for agencies to work with the public, and how the space agency can fulfill a number of goals all at once, all by letting the public show them how.
Highlights of this story include:
- How to make open data work for the public
- Getting everyone, not just programmers, involved in hackathons
- The value of public service
As I said throughout the episode, if you’re feeling a little burned out at your job, you should listen to this, as Beth Beck’s commitment to her work is infectious. It you have ideas for a future episode, feedback on what we’re doing, or questions for any past guest, drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @PSpendForum.
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