DEVELOP, part of NASA’s Applied Sciences Program, addresses environmental and public policy issues through interdisciplinary research projects that apply the lens of NASA Earth observations to community concerns around the globe. Bridging the gap between NASA Earth Science and society, DEVELOP builds capacity in both participants and partner organizations to better prepare them to address the challenges that face our society and future generations. With the competitive nature and growing societal role of science and technology in today’s global workplace, DEVELOP is fostering an adept corps of tomorrow’s scientists and leaders.
The foundation for the DEVELOP Program began in the summer of 1998 when three student interns at the Langley Research Center co-authored a research paper titled The Practical Applications of Remote Sensing (Bauer et al., 1998). Concurrently, the Digital Earth Initiative, a federal interagency project dedicated to furthering humans' understanding of the planet, initiated an effort to increase public access to federal information about the Earth and the environment. With the shared focus of these two ventures, a proposal was submitted to combine the mission of NASA's Digital Earth Initiative and the Langley students' paper. This set the stage for the creation of a new student internship program within NASA, and in 1999 the DEVELOP was officially formed.
The early success of DEVELOP was due to the alignment of projects with the issues facing local and regional communities. DEVELOP gradually expanded from one office at Langley Research Center into a nationwide program that includes over 350 participants each year at twelve nodes. Today, the National Program Office (DEVELOP's Headquarters) is hosted at Langley, and oversees activity at all of DEVELOP's nodes. Since inception, over 3,200 participant positions have been provided globally, and the DEVELOP Program proactively looks for new opportunities to reach new communities and demonstrate the benefits of NASA's Earth Science research.