The University Leadership Initiative (ULI)

The University Leadership Initiative (ULI)

ULI was created to initiate a new type of interaction between NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) and the U.S. university community, where American universities take the lead, build their own teams, and set their own research paths.  This initiative seeks new, innovative ideas that can support the NASA ARMD portfolio and the U.S. aviation community.

ULI’s strategic goals are:

  • Assist in achieving aviation outcomes defined in the ARMD Strategic Implementation Plan through NASA-complementary research
  • Transition research results to an appropriate range of stakeholders that lead to a continuation of the research.  Transition can occur in a number of ways, including the following:
    • Creates a new product line in U.S. industry or a new ARMD project
    • Whole ULI concept is transitioned to U.S. industry/ARMD project
    • Part of the ULI concept is transitioned to U.S. industry/ARMD project
    • ULI findings impact direction of U.S. industry/ARMD
  • Provide broad opportunities for students at different levels, including graduate and undergraduate, to participate in aeronautics research
  • Promote greater diversity in aeronautics through increased participation of minority-serving institutions and underrepresented university faculties in ULI activities

ULI provides the opportunity for university teams to exercise technical and organizational leadership in proposing unique technical challenges, defining interdisciplinary solutions, establishing peer review mechanisms, and applying innovative teaming strategies to strengthen the research impact. By addressing the most complex challenges associated with ARMD strategic thrusts, universities will accelerate progress toward achievement of high impact outcomes while leveraging their capability to bring together the best and brightest minds across many disciplines. In order to transition their research, Principal Investigators (PIs) are expected to actively explore transition opportunities and pursue follow-on funding from stakeholders and industrial partners during the course of the award.

ULI is an initiative under the Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program (TACP). NASA management is seeing early successes from these awards.

For further information on the University Leadership Initiative, please see the last ULI solicitation, the FAQ in the last ULI solicitationTips from Reviewers, or contact

ULI - Round 7

If you missed out proposing in ULI Round 6, NASA expects to release another ULI solicitation around April 2023. Zero emissions aviation continues to remain a priority and the expectation is that some version of this topic will be included in the ULI solicitation.

  • ULI - Round 7 solicitation on NSPIRES (expected to be released in April 2023)


ULI - Round 6

+ Follow ULI - Round 6

ULI - Round 5

+ Follow ULI - Round 5

ULI - Round 4

+ Follow ULI - Round 4

ULI - Round 3

+ Follow ULI - Round 3

ULI - Round 2

+ Follow ULI - Round 2

ULI - Round 1

+ Follow ULI - Round 1

Initiation of ULI

+ Background on formation of ULI

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