Jenn Gustetic - Prizes, Challenges and Crowdsourcing at NASA, CSWGlobal14


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Presented at Crowdsourcing Week Global 2014 by Jenn Gustetic, Program Executive at NASA. Join us for CSW Global 2015! More Information: and

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  • Currently, known measurement technologies are either invasive or too inaccurate to be acceptable for repeated measurements over time.  Their goal was to advance the current state of research, understand the sufficiency of their current approaches and/or enlarge the understanding of the solution space.InnoCentive Participants:  There were a total of 636 solvers/teams, 72 total proposed submissions, with 57 submissions Participants:  This tech scout challenge identified 81 leads, three high interest solutions, five other interesting solutions, six potential complementary technologies and 63 rejected leads.contest itself ran from September to November 2013For the InnoCentive challenge, one award was made for $15,000The results of these challenges will be used by the team to advance their research efforts. NASA identified new solutions in the current marketplace that were previously not known and have three high interest solutions and an additional five leads on developing technology. Additionally, “We learned that we should have revisited technologies that we rejected earlier – people learn & technology improves with time & data.”
  • NASA Success Story: Kevlar and Vectran Strain Measurement ChallengeSaving taxpayer dollars through open innovationThe Challenge: A repeatable test for measuring the strain of Kevlar and Vectran straps made of any material and having varying tensile strengthsPlatform: NASA’s Innovation PavilionSolver Community: 347 solvers from 40+ countries Winner(s): Two solutions were from the United States and one solution from Serbia. The winning solutions suggested adding a strip of elastomeric material (a rubber strap) along with the woven strap in the test jig. The measurements are then taken off of the rubber strap and correlated back to the woven strap. Outcome: These solutions can be used immediately by the analysis team and are applicable to multiple projects outside of Lightweight Materials and Structures—quick solutions and immediate infusion back into NASA! Issued: 10/25/12 Ended 1/9/13Awarded March, 2013$5000 to Oliver Jovanovic from SerbiaAdd a second sample on the same jig$5000 to Peter Haaland from Washington DCReplace the speckle paint with polydimethylsiloxane based paint$10,000 to DmitriyTipikin of Hanover, NHAdd Polyethylene strap attached in parallelThe team had an “I could have had a V8” Moment! This solution was extremely elegant, simple and repeatable-- it took a fresh perspective to cultivate a potential gem. By approaching this problem through open innovation, NASA saved the taxpayer dollars by not contracting out a lengthy research program to seek an answer.
  • Lunar Lander Challenge (to build and fly a rocket-powered vehicle that simulates the flight of a vehicle on the Moon). Masten Space Systems and Armadillo Aerospace won $1.15M and $750K respectively in the 2008/2009 Lunar Lander Challenge. Both companies were founded before the Lunar Lander Challenge was announced and both have taken advantage of the ability to compete and leverage their Challenge success. Both received contracts in 2011 along with 5 other companies to provide NASA with sub-orbital payload integration and delivery. Armadillo has gone on to expand in the commercial space world contracting with Space Adventures to provide civilian access to suborbital space. Masten is in discussions with the DOD for suborbital access as well. “Masten wanted to change the way suborbital research was conducted with fully reusable suborbital launch vehicles with vertical takeoff and vertical landing capability. The timing of the Lunar Landing Challenge lined up with technical goals we already needed to achieve in the development of our vehicles, and we decided to pursue the challenge along the way. With a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck, we managed to take home the grand prize. When we won the challenge, our only "customer" was the challenge. We had two great rocket vehicles with fantastic guidance and control, but an extremely limited sales funnel. Since the challenge, we've spent significant time building a business around a primary focus on customers. We received multiple awards from NASA to fly suborbital payloads in this time as well as established NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and other major aerospace contractors as customers.” prize was announced in May 2006, and 2006, 2007 and 2008 was offered to teams only on a fixed date (generally late October) and in a fixed location (Southern New Mexico, with the generous support of our friends at partners at Spaceport America). At the conclusion of the 2008, the $350,000 Level One, First Place prize was claimed by Armadillo Aerospace.In 2009, the competition was altered to allow teams to compete at a date and a location of their choosing at any point between early August and the end of October. At the end of that period, teams that have met the all of the requirements for the prize will be ranked according to the landing accuracy displayed on their two flights.
  • competed in the 2007 and 2009 Power Beaming Challenges and is currently partnering with NASA on other projects.Flagsuit LLC took home first-prize winnings for the 2007 and 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenges.Final Frontier took home the second-place prize of $100,000 at the 2009 Astronaut Glove Challenge.Synergy Aircraft exhibited a quarter-scale prototype of Synergy, a box-tailed five-seater, at the 2011 Green Flight Challenge.Masten Space Systems won the $1 million first place prize in the 2009 Lunar Lander Challenge.Pipistrel won the green flight challenge in 2011. They have also produced an electric version of the Taurus—the Taurus Electro which is capable of climbing to 6,000 feet (1800 m) after self-launching. The American magazine Popular Science named the Taurus Electro as one of the ten most important aerospace innovations of the year in 2008. In 2010, the Taurus Electro won the gold medal for innovative design at the Biennial of Industrial Design awards and in 2011, it won the Lindbergh Prize for the best electric aircraft. The Pipistrel Taurus G4, a modified double-fuselage Taurus also won the prestigious NASA Green Flight Challenge in 2011.
  • 240 Ideas on 34 technologies from 30 countries1572 contributions from 34 countries The image above demonstrates how image stabilization technology developed to study solar flares might be used to clarify images in a variety of applications like license plate recognition from traffic cameras or clarifying security footage for anti-terrorism efforts.The technologies NASA develops don't just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety and efficiency, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, even the miniature cameras in our cell phones. For over fifty years, NASA has transferred its cutting-edge aerospace technologies to the private sector, helping create new commercial products, improve existing products, and boost the competitiveness of the U.S. economy. Now NASA has joined forces with the product development startup Marblar ( for a pilot program allowing the public to crowdsource product ideas for forty of NASA’s patents. This initiative will allow Marblar’s online community to use a portion of NASA’s diverse portfolio of patented technologies as the basis of new product ideas.Starting today, 14 NASA technologies will be available on Marblar. Over the next four weeks, 26 additional patents will be posted on the website. Anyone can submit ideas and contribute to other submitted ideas over the next year. Commercial partners will study the ideas for potential new products and services, with contributors to successful ideas sharing in their ownership.NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center Technology Transfer Office will lead the pilot program. “We are excited about partnering with Marblar to reach new audiences. By using crowdsourcing as a way to generate new assessments of NASA technologies, we hope to work with the global community to identify transformative commercial products,” said Terry Taylor, Manager of the MSFC Technology Transfer Office.“Crowdsourcing has allowed NASA to tap into more than the usual suspects to get ideas and solutions that address an assortment of NASA needs,” said Jenn Gustetic, NASA’s Prizes and Challenges Program Executive. “Reaching out to innovators in a variety of fields through online crowdsourcing may provide a 21st century way for NASA to expand the reach of its technology portfolio for commercialization and use right here on Earth”Marblar is a platform that curates patented science from the world’s top research labs, and allows anyone to submit new product ideas based upon these technologies. The technologies NASA will be making available to the platform range from advanced satellite optics, to micro-sensors, to materials, devices, and manufacturing techniques developed for the shuttle program. These technologies represent a handful of the over 1000 patented technologies and 400 software codes and analysis tools NASA has available for transfer to the public.“By engaging a global community towards re-imagining NASA’s patents, along with the half-billion dollars worth of patents from other institutions world-wide available on Marblar, we’re aiming to create a pivot point and redefine product development for the 21st century,” said Daniel Perez, Marblar CEO.NASA’s Technology Transfer Program, managed by the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters, ensures that technologies developed for missions in exploration and discovery are broadly available to the public. To view the entire NASA patent portfolio, visit:
  • We reached 500,000 classifications: “Sort of.  We have 4027 registered users.  But to register, it takes time and you have to giveaway your email address, etc.  And we try to keep barriers to entry as low as possible.So most users do not register.  For example, we had more than 100,000 people visit thewebsite during the first month of the project.”We won 4 nights of observing time: The Disk Detective team was awarded 4 nights of observing time at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatoryto follow up disk candidates spotted by citizen scientists.“The way it works is that each (professional) telescope has a time allocation committee.If you want to use the telescope, you have to submit a proposal to that committee.That's what we did (the science team).  No money changes hands--just data!But we only asked for two nights, and the committee was so impressed that they awarded us four.Technically I was the PI of the proposal.  So in a sense, you could say that NASA won the time.”WISE is a NASA mission surveying the whole sky in infrared. This project is looking at stars to find dusty debris disks, similar to our asteroid field. These disks suggest that these stars are in the early stages of forming planetary systems. Learning more about these stars can tell us how our Solar System formed.65 published papers: SPACE Galaxy Zoo (42) Moon Zoo Solar Stormwatch (2) Galaxy Zoo - Mergers Galaxy Zoo - Supernova (5) Planet Hunters (6) Milky Way Project (2) Ice Hunters (1) Andromeda Project Planet Four Space Warps Radio Galaxy ZooStardate M83 Disk DetectiveSunspotter
  • 1. Out of the 382 total registrants for the contest, 329 are brand new members (registered on or after 03/10/14, which is when we announced the challenge).2. We received a total of 24 submissions - 5 failed screening, and 19 went on for review. We typically get 2 to 4 submissions for content creation / problem statement contests.3. Out of the top 5 submissions, 4 of the members registered after we announced the contest (including the 1st place winner). 5. The top 5 winners (in order of placement) are from: Romania, Poland, Spain, the United States & the United Kingdom.Thewinner of the problem statement contest for the Asteroid Data Hunter contest on topcoder (total of 382 registrants / 25 submissions) works for the Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies (C-CAPS)Looking at his ResearchGate profile, under the "Topics" section, he has tagged: Computational Fluid Dynamics, Meteorology, Climatology, Fluid Dynamics and Thermodynamics.This is a great example of a member of the community who has contributed towards a project where the skill set may not be in his/her core expertise - he beat actual astronomers!
  • Jenn Gustetic - Prizes, Challenges and Crowdsourcing at NASA, CSWGlobal14

    1. 1. Prizes, Challenges and Crowdsourcing Jenn Gustetic Prizes and Challenges Program Executive NASA HQ, OCT @jenngustetic
    2. 2. “From the Centennial Challenges Program, to the NASA Open Innovation Pavilion, to the NASA Tournament Lab, NASA leads the public sector in the breadth and depth of experience and experimentation with prizes and challenges.“ --White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Report to Congress on Government Prize Use, 2012 2
    3. 3. Engaging the Public in Solving Tough Problems Building Hardware…. Developing Software and Algorithms… Sharing Ideas and Methods… 3
    4. 4. • Shine a spotlight on a problem or opportunity • Pay only for results • Explore a wide breadth and depth of potential solutions • Target an ambitious goal without predicting which team or approach is most likely to succeed • Reach beyond usual suspects to tap top talent • Stimulate private sector investment many times greater than the prize purse • Bring out-of-discipline perspectives to bear • Inspire risk-taking by offering a level playing field Benefits of Challenges to NASA Prize Competitions are not right for solving EVERY problem, but could be transformative for the right problem. They are another tool in NASA’s toolkit for solving problems. 4
    5. 5. Discover a wide breadth and depth of potential solutions. 5 Reach Beyond the Usual Suspects.
    6. 6. Explore a wide breadth and depth of potential solutions.
    7. 7. Pay only for results. 7
    8. 8. Encourage the emerging commercial space industry. 8
    9. 9. After the Challenge • LaserMotive • Flagsuit LLC • Final Frontier • Masten Space Systems • Armadillo Aerospace • Synergy Aircraft • Pipistrel USA 9
    10. 10. Stimulate new commercial products—and cross sector collaborations.
    11. 11. Stimulate new research through citizen science—and create a role for many.
    12. 12. Protect our planet—through public private partnerships.
    13. 13. For more information innovation/ 13