National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

HBCU Conference

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 – Cleveland, OH

The Academy students attended the Ohio Aerospace Institute’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Other Miniority Universities Conference. The master of ceremonies of the event was Dr. Sunil Dutta of OAI. He welcomed us all the conference, and introduced Dr. Woodrow Whitlow, center director of Glenn. Dr. Whitlow spoke about how important it is to continue seeking diversity in the aerospace industry and that such diversity needed to be supported within outside universities.

Next to speak was Dr. Michael Heil, President and CEO of OAI. He spoke about the legacy of the Aerospace industry in Ohio, from the beginnings with Orville and Wilbur Wright, and the fact that Ohio has been the home state for a disproportionate number of astronauts, starting with John Glenn; only California has more. His mission, and the mission of OAI, is to foster the aerospace industry in Ohio and keep it strong.

Dr. Kenny Aguilar, Glenn director of center operations, told us about the importance of taking risks in research and trying to make leaps in levels of technology. This also applied to our own career paths; he encouraged us to speak with the experts around us. He told us that “Only those who risk going to far can find out how far they can go,” and, “If not you, then who; if not now, then when?”

Next, we heard a more technical talk from Dr. Jih-Fen Lei, Director of Research and Technology at Glenn. The goal of NASA’s research is to advance US technological leadership in Aeronautics and Astronautics with industry, academia, and other government organizations, as well as having a balanced program in science, exploration, and aeronautics. Within aeronautics research, there are three areas of focus: fundamentals, aviation safety, and the NextGen airspace system. Fundamentals research looks at noise, emissions, and performance among new aircraft, advances in rotorcraft, new body shapes, and hyper- and supersonic aircraft. One area of safety research occurring at Glenn is engine icing, which she showed pictures of.

John Hanley, from the Space Flight Systems Directorate, first showed us an organizational chart to help us pinpoint where the department stood in the fabric of Glenn operations. He spoke about an EVA project and new spacesuits, the space station, power systems, and in-space mission management.

Finally, the last morning speaker was the first from a university. Dr, Carlos Cabrera, from the University of Puerto Rico, spoke about the electrochemical preparation of carbon nanotube Li-ion batteries. He also told the conference about how many students were working in his lab and had obtained various degrees, and the progress the group was making in education and inspiring young people.