2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Are We Smarter than the Dinosaurs?

#sxsw #AsteroidGC


66 million years ago, the dinosaurs had a very, very bad day thanks to an asteroid at least 10 km wide. Since 1998, NASA has led the global effort to find potentially hazardous asteroids, and has successfully found 95 percent of the near-Earth asteroids larger than 1km within the last 15 years. But the work is not over, and it will take a global effort with innovative solutions through participatory engagement to complete the survey of smaller, but still potentially hazardous asteroids. NASA’s Grand Challenge to “find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them” will employ open innovation tactics “on steroids”. NASA has a rich history of using prizes and crowdsourcing to engage more than the usual suspects in solving hard problems. This session will explore how a “new NASA” and open innovation can meaningfully engage people in space, provide funding opportunities to developers, makers & entrepreneurs, and help us solve problems of global importance.



Jason Kessler

Grand Challenges Program Exec


Jason Kessler, NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge Program Executive, began his professional career at NASA back in 1994. After graduating with a degree in Chemistry, Jason earned a position in NASA’s Legislative office and spent the following six years in various positions at NASA, culminating with the position of Deputy Chief of Staff to the NASA Administrator. Jason’s entrepreneurial spirit eventually led him back to school, earning his MBA. Several businesses later, Jason returned to NASA to join the SERVIR program office combining his private and public sector experience into one venture bringing decision-support information for climate change adaptation to those in the developing world. Jason has a passion for teaching yoga and meditation and in New York City he taught World Trade Center victims suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is working on his private pilot license, loves spicy food, and has a deep appreciation for music recorded and played back through tube electronics. He is committed to developing his leadership skills, so he can continually make bigger offers for improving the world.


Jenn Gustetic

Prizes & Challenges Program Exec


Ms. Gustetic’s experience has focused on the public sector with concentrations on prizes and challenges, open government, innovation, public private partnerships, grants management, and technology policy. Currently, Ms. Gustetic is the Prizes and Challenges Program Executive in the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC. In this leadership and strategy role, Ms. Gustetic coordinates the use of challenge-driven open innovation methods, such as prize competitions and crowdsourcing, at NASA. Ms. Gustetic also leads NASA’s formulation efforts for its Grand Challenges, most recently resulting in the announcement in June 2013 of a new Grand Challenge to “find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them”.

She holds a bachelors degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in technology policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Music sponsor

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Interactive sponsors

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