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May 06, 2015 07:18 PM EDT

California State University in Los Angeles received a $5 million grant to conduct NASA-related research, school officials announced Wednesday.

The five-year grant, which will also be used to help train a new generation of scientists and engineers, will establish a Data Intensive Research and Education Center in STEM to create academic and research opportunities in critical science, technology, engineering and math fields for students from underserved communities.

The goal is to strengthen the nation's base for aerospace research and development, spur participation by faculty and students at minority serving institutions, and increase the number of undergraduate and graduate degrees in NASA-related fields.

"We are looking forward to collaborating with NASA to create a center where research and scholarship can flourish for the benefit of our students, our region and our nation," Cal State L.A. President William A. Covino said in a statement. "By diversifying the ranks of students who graduate in STEM fields, we help create richer research environments."

NASA reviewed 76 proposals and selected 10 universities as award recipients under the agency's Minority University Research and Education Project. Cal State L.A.'s proposal was prepared by principal investigator Hengchun Ye, a geosciences professor and department chair.

"With rapid development in scientific research technologies for handling massive data, there is a pressing need to train a new generation of scientists and engineers with skills in scientific computing and data analysis," Ye said.

The center will be housed in the Department of Geosciences and Environment and will be supported by the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Technology, the College of Natural and Social Sciences and the Charter College of Education. Faculty and students will focus on collaborative research and training in areas of hydrology and climate change, computational physics, and cloud computing that directly contribute to NASA's mission.

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