Broader Impacts with the ngVLA


The design, construction and operation phases of the ngVLA each present unique opportunities for the facility to drive positive change that will benefit society, or have broader impacts, beyond the groundbreaking astronomy research for which it has been designed.


The ngVLA strives to be a diverse and inclusive Observatory respected as a leader in the responsive, innovative and ethical way we use our scientific research to benefit society. Broader impacts is therefore an integral aspect of our organizational culture, as well as a design requirement for each project to ensure its potential to drive positive change for society is researched, considered and incorporated. Project leadership is further encouraged to adopt the collaborative design principle and to co-design broader impacts initiatives with and for our stakeholders, in particular the communities surrounding our facilities or areas of operation.


Our Broader Impacts Goals


Bi Strip

Image Credits: Top Row, Far Left: Timelapse image of the stars surrounding Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon, courtesy of National Park Service/D. Davis
Top Row, Second from Right: Original artwork by Leroy Nelson, Navajo Traditional Practitioner, courtesy of NASA/L. Nelson.


The goals of the draft ngVLA Broader Impacts Strategy are aligned with that of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Associated Universities Incorporated (AUI) and support the organizational vision, mission and goals of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO):

Broadening Participation

A diverse, skilled and globally-competitive science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce is critical to the NRAO’s mission to enable cutting-edge science with world-class radio facilities. The ngVLA will support the NRAO in its goal to advance broader, equitable and inclusive participation in science and engineering through the implementation of intentional programs that broaden participation by historically marginalized groups who remain under-represented in the STEM enterprise relative to their representation in the overall population.


Economic Development

The construction and operation of the ngVLA will require us to invest in economic infrastructure such as transportation, energy, water and sanitation, communication, safety and resilience, and health and education. The ngVLA will ensure communities surrounding our facilities and operational areas benefit from this investment through the sharing of infrastructure; vocational skills training programs and job creation; and the support of local, small and under-represented minority-owned businesses through innovative procurement policies.


Education & Workforce Development

The ngVLA is committed to the implementation of programs designed to innovate and improve education in the fields relevant to our work; broaden participation in these fields by underrepresented minorities; create opportunities for high-potential individuals to successfully enter experiential training; and employ a diverse next-generation of scientists and engineers required for the design, construction, operation and also decommisioning of the facility.


Public Engagement with Science

The NRAO is a research and development center funded by the federal government, and as such, has a responsibility to promote the public awareness, understanding and appreciation of science, as well as create opportunities for discussion, debate and mutual learning between scientists and the public. The ngVLA will deliver STEM engagement programs for local, national and international general public audiences in order to ensure we share our work and remain accountable for what we do.


Technology & Commercialization

The desire to understand our Universe drives the demand for new generation telescopes with unprecedented sensitivity, which in turn requires continuous advances in engineering and computing for astronomy. The ngVLA will continue to invest in the development and commercialization of technologies and techniques that will have tangible benefits for other radio astronomy observatories and scientific research facilities, a revitalized US high-tech manufacturing sector, and society in general.


Planetary Defense and National Security

Radio astronomy technologies, techniques and data are crucial in the detection, astrometry, imaging and characterization of solar system objects, including near-Earth asteroids, as well as in support of Pointing Navigation and Timing (PNT) services that measure three-dimensional Earth Orientation Parameters for GPS. The ngVLA will collaborate with federal and international agencies to continue to provide state-of-the-art radio astronomy and planetary radar technologies, techniques and data to support our national mission.


Natural, Cultural & Scientific Heritage

The NRAO acknowledges and appreciates the natural and cultural heritage of the communities surrounding our facilities as well as the scientific heritage of all our operational areas. The ngVLA will encourage, facilitate and support cross-disciplinary research to record, study and preserve such culture and heritage; use our influence to prevent any exploitation inconsistent with the protection of the integrity of such culture and heritage; incorporate and promote indigenous knowledge in our education and public outreach materials as far as possible, and deliver these materials in the languages used by our communities.


Collaboration & Partnerships

Multi-institutional and international collaboration across various sectors ensures that the NRAO and its stakeholders benefit from the unique assets, strengths and best practices of our domestic and international partner institutions. The ngVLA will continue to develop partnerships in order to advance knowledge and best-practice transfer between and by the Observatory and our partner institutions; ensure the impacts of our research extend beyond any single institution or country; influence domestic and global policy- and decision-making; and prepare a diverse next-generation of scientists and engineers that are truly globally engaged and experienced.


The Broader Impacts Strategy is a work in progress and will be a living document. We encourage our stakeholders to reach out to us to identify themselves, participate in our stakeholder engagement process, and share their perspectives, knowledge and best-practices with us. By allowing us to connect with and listen to you, collaborate with and learn from you, and share and celebrate our mutual success with you, we hope to build a world-class facility defined by integrity, transparency, accountability, sustainability and excellence, and of which we can all be proud.

Some Ideas for Broader Impacts


Artist's impression of the proposed next generation Learning Center

Engagement with stakeholders in education in New Mexico has informed a draft gVLA Education and Workforce Development (EWD) Plan that will see us collaborate with our partners in the New Mexico public school system, at colleges and universities, and from education NGOs and NPOs to create equitable pathways for marginalized youth in New Mexico to enter a career in STEM fields required for the design, construction and operation of the ngVLA. Projects outlined in the Plan, and for which we are currently actively seeking funding and in-kind support, include leveraging existing apprenticeship programs in New Mexico to train local marginalized students; creating hands-on post-secondary and graduate education and research experience programs for under/graduate students; training educators, faculty and science communicators in STEM teaching content and methods; incorporating Hispanic, Navajo and Pueblo indigenous knowledge and languages into all our educational resources and making these widely available; and building a next generation Learning Center at the current VLA site that will serve our communities and the State of New Mexico.


Other ideas put forward in the draft Broader Impacts Strategy include a supply chain development program to stimulate the launch and growth of minority- and women-owned businesses in New Mexico; improving infrastructure in our surrounding towns when upgrading existing or constructing new facilities for the ngVLA; supporting astrotourism initiatives by local community members that bring visitors and revenue to the region; and continuing our work to facilitate broadband internet access to Navajo and Pueblo communities and support community programs in various ngVLA areas of operations, from domestic violence shelters to performing arts programs.


Contact our Broader Impacts Team

For more information about broader impacts with the ngVLA, or to partner with us in our broader impacts efforts, please contact Broader Impacts Integrated Project Team Lead, Anja Fourie:


+1 434 296 0211