Software of the Year Award

NASA Software of the Year (SOY) Competition

Excellence in aerospace software is vital to NASA’s leadership role in developing aeronautics and space technologies and transferring them to government and industry. The prestigious SOY is designed to give recognition to developers of exceptional software created for or by NASA and owned by NASA. The competition is sponsored by the NASA Office of Safety and Mission Assurance and the NASA Chief Information Officer. A NASA Software Advisory Panel assesses and rank entries and reports its finding to NASA’s Inventions and Contributions Board.

Every NASA Center and Facility is invited to participate in this annual competition. The award includes the NASA Software Medal, Inventions and Contributions Board certificates and monetary compensation. The competition allows the Agency to recognize and appreciate the NASA team members who set high standards for innovative software technologies that significantly improve the Agency’s exploration of space and maximize scientific discovery on Earth and that are creative, transferable and possess inherent quality.

In 1980, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 96-517, the Bayh-Dole Act, which provides that universities have the right to elect title to inventions resulting from government-sponsored research at universities. JPL is covered by the Bayh-Dole Act because Caltech operates JPL as a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC).

The call for nominations is usually sent to each NASA center in mid-February. Each NASA center is allowed to submit one candidate for the competition (with certain exceptions); the submission packages are typically due back to the NASA Inventions and Contributions Board in early June, with the competition being held sometime in July at the previous year’s winner’s center location.

At JPL, there is an internal competition to decide the JPL candidate for the NASA Software of the Year Competition. Shortly after receiving the call for nominations from NASA, there is a lab-wide informational meeting to discuss the current year’s competition (late February). JPL candidates who wish to enter the NASA competition are requested to submit their entry to the JPL internal selection committee. Viable candidates will be asked to give a 30-minute presentation to the committee on a selected date. A final candidate will be selected by the JPL internal committee as the JPL candidate for the NASA Software of the Year Competition.


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