Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Associate Dean Advises NASA on Human Challenges in Space Programs

17.07.2008
In two years, NASA plans to begin the new space program that will send human astronauts to Mars. It won't be easy, and technical issues aren't the only challenges.

The U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush want NASA to begin work on the new Constellation Program now. Yet NASA cannot expand its 18,000-member workforce, and its employees cannot devote their full attention to Constellation until the final shuttle mission is complete in 2010.

It's a conundrum for NASA administrator Michael Griffin, and for advice he has turned to the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) and its human capital committee. Gerald Kulcinski, University of Wisconsin-Madison associate dean for research and Grainger Professor of Nuclear Engineering, is chair of the committee.

Formed in 2005 and chaired by UW-Madison engineering physics adjunct professor Harrison Schmitt, NAC is composed of seven committees that provide recommendations for Griffin on a variety of challenges currently facing NASA.

The 32 NAC members come from a variety of academic, industry and military backgrounds. Six former astronauts, including Schmitt and Neil Armstrong, are members.

Kulcinski says the council is helpful even if a particular problem isn't from their area of expertise.

"They'll make nontrivial suggestions or say 'I know x or y who's an expert in this area, let's get them on the phone,'" he says. "It's as much who they know as much as them actually solving the problem."

Kulcinski's connection to NASA began in the mid-1980s when he began researching commercial applications for Helium-3, an alternative nuclear fuel source that could ideally produce no radioactive waste. The moon is an abundance source of Helium-3; it contains approximately 1 million cubic tons of Helium-3, and merely 50 cubic tons could serve the electricity needs of the United States for a year.

Schmitt - the only geologist to walk on the moon - became involved in the research and co-taught courses with Kulcinski. Griffin was also connected as part of a proposal to send miner equipment designed by Kulcinski's team to the moon to extract Helium-3.

However, it's not his technical knowledge that helps Kulcinski lead the human capital committee. His experience as an associate dean qualifies him to tackle a variety of human-based problems.

One of those problems is how to attract the best and brightest young employees.

"They're not getting as many young folks as they need. These are the people who will take you to the moon and Mars and beyond," Kulcinski says. "NASA is worried about trying to solve cutting-edge problems, so they need dedicated people."

During the Apollo missions in the 1950s and '60s, college graduates flocked to NASA, viewing the agency as "the place to go." Now, recent graduates have more options as fields such as medical research, homeland security and finance grow. The average age of a NASA employee has risen to 50.

Kulcinski understands the challenge of attracting top-notch young people. And he knows how to succeed.

"UW-Madison is one of the top engineering colleges in the country. We deal with the best and the brightest students; we have a sense of what it takes to motivate them, attract them," he says.

NAC terms last three years with an option to renew at the discretion of the NASA administrator, who is appointed by the president. The council gathers four times a year, rotating the meeting locations among the various NASA labs around the country.

Sandra Knisely | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy
24.03.2017 | University of Massachusetts at Amherst

nachricht Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core
24.03.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>