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“Pitch" styled reporting for NASA ACCESS awards

By: Claire Stirm and Annie Burgess

Our sustainability training instructors love the last day of the Focus Week workshop. Teams come in with all of their thoughts compiled into a seven minute “Pitch” presentation. This presentation is a summary of each project’s value, audiences, market opportunities, and long-term goals. This tactical deck has been used by past attendees to present to university leadership, stakeholders, and possible funders. Within the last year, the “Pitch” deck has now influenced how an entire NASA award cohort presents to NASA leadership. 


Geoweaver & NASA ACCESS

Ziheng Sun and co-investigators received a 2019 NASA ACCESS award for the Geoweaver science gateway - an Earth science gateway focused on building reproducible workflows via a graphical user-interface.

NASA works closely with ACCESS grantees from the outset to find pathways to infuse the science gateways and/or their data products into NASA systems. The ACCESS solicitation itself is one way NASA has identified needs within the agency and the geoscience community. For ACCESS principal investigators (PIs), this is highly impactful, as the fact that their projects were funded means that the PIs are responding to an identified need by NASA. 

However, even though infusion is a goal from the outset, technology developed by ACCESS PIs will not necessarily be infused into NASA - receive continued funding - or reused by the community. Similar in other funding environments, many projects are not infused due to:

  • the developed product doesn’t end up meeting the initial need; 

  • other options solve the issue better; 

  • or there is community momentum in another direction. 


NASA Collaboration Methods in Technology Infusion (CMITI) Working Group

In response to the common challenges around technology infusion, NASA’s Earth Science Data Systems Working Group (ESDSWG) Collaboration Methods in Technology Infusion (CMITI) was formed. As co-investigator on the NASA ACCESS-funded Geoweaver project, Annie Burgess from Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) volunteered to co-chair the CMITI Working Group. With her colleagues, she suggested that an often overlooked opportunity to communicate a project’s value to NASA leadership is during the “technical reviews” that occur throughout a project’s funding lifecycle. 

The CMITI working group noted that the guidance ACCESS projects received on what to present during technical reviews focused on the project’s timeline and technical challenges. The CMITI working group came to the conclusion that if a funder is reminded of a project’s value and broader impact at each review - before hearing updates  on timeline and technical challenges - it reinforces the project’s larger benefits to NASA and the Earth science community, ultimately increasing the likelihood of infusion.

NASA ACCESS: Email Guidance Update

* CMITI Working Group recommendation on guidance to ACCESS PIs on how to present their projects during an Annual Technical Review. 

Sound familiar? These are the same concepts found in the Focus Week “Pitch” deck!

  • Value Proposition

  • Project’s inspiration → Napkin Drawing

  • User Profiles → Audience

  • Ultimate goal → Goal Setting

Annie Burgess and the CMITI Working Group took these core concepts and used them to advise all projects in the NASA ACCESS program to reorganize their presentations. The CMITI Working Group even shared a template slide deck to help facilitate the new guidance: ACCESS Technical Review Template

To illustrate the impact, Annie Burgess and Ziheng Sun used the new template at the Geoweaver technical review meetings with NASA ACCESS leadership. They asked NASA ACCESS leadership on the call to answer a short, informal questionnaire after their presentation. Annie Burgess and Ziheng Sun found the majority were able to clearly understand the goals of the project, the ultimate goal, and the project’s value. 

A year after the CMITI Working Group shared the revised NASA ACCESS Technical Review Template, NASA ACCESS projects are still being encouraged to use the template to improve communication with funders. 


Sun, Ziheng, Liping Di, Annie Burgess, Jason A. Tullis, and Andrew B. Magill. "Geoweaver: Advanced Cyberinfrastructure for Managing Hybrid Geoscientific AI Workflows." ISPRS International Journal of Geo-Information 9, no. 2 (2020): 119.