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Constellation University Institutes Project (CUIP)

Purpose and Scope

The Constellation University Institutes Project (CUIP) is a consortium of approximately 20 universities in the United States working a cooperative agreement with NASA to focus on addressing the technical challenges of the NASA Constellation Program. The CUIP’s technical portfolio is comprised of the following key technical areas, or virtual institutes (VIs):

• Thrust Chamber Assemblies (TCA)
• Propellant Storage and Delivery (PSD)
• Reentry Aerothermodynamics (RA)
• Structures and Materials for Extreme Environments (SMEE)
• Solids (SOL)
• Systems Engineering and Integration (SEI)

NASA’s Glenn Research Center is responsible for managing the CUIP for the Constellation Program. NASA centers heavily involved in Constellation applications within these technical areas collaborate extensively with the university researchers at the task level. This collaboration is integrated within the Constellation Program and occurs for Constellation Program Level II Offices, the Crew Launch Vehicle Project, the Crew Exploration Vehicle Project, the Lunar Lander Project, and other Constellation Projects that are established over the course of the program.

There are over 50 baselined task plans within the CUIP.

Our objectives for this project are as follows:

1. Perform research and development that addresses critical Constellation needs.

2. Enhance and broaden the ability of the nation’s universities to meet the needs of NASA’s programs.

3. Expand the nation’s talent base for NASA mission-related research and development and technology maturation.

4. Strengthen NASA’s ties to academia through long-term, directed, and sustained investment.


The CUIP Management Team serves as the liaison or "courier" for the project and its various entities, which are universities, the government, and industry. While trying to position the tasks to best meet the needs of Constellation, the Management Team strives to equip each entity with the information required to optimize its efforts.

The project organization encompasses six VIs which address problems of fundamental importance to Constellation. The VIs all follow the same format of having a lead NASA technical expert who helps guide the research efforts from the various tasks within each VI, in addition to at least one NASA point-of-contact per task (in most cases, there are several NASA stakeholders per task as well). Within the CUIP, there are 24 universities, 50 tasks, over 80 faculty members, and 100 students. Last year, the CUIP research team generated over 200 workshop, conference, and archival publications.

The University of Maryland leads the CUIP from a management perspective.

For further guidance, the project also relies on an Industry/Department of Defense Advisory Board that includes NASA senior executive representatives.

The graphic below illustrates the 24 universities together feeding into the 6 VIs, representing a truly unified CUIP, which works to address the challenges of Constellation.

CUIP Institutes


Management Team

The Management Team for the Constellation University Institutes Project is Ms. Claudia Meyer, CUIP Manager and Dr. Jeff Rybak, CUIP Deputy Manager. Their duties include business and technical integration of CUIP and cultivating technical relationships between the NASA stakeholders and university researchers. Contact them if you have any questions about the project.


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