Tag Archives: NASA

NASA’s Nationwide Technology Infusion Tour Makes Two-Day Stop at Tennessee State University

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –Tennessee State University hosted a two-day workshop to provide HBCUs and minority-serving institutions a platform to seek research funding from NASA.

NASA
John Barfield, Director of Engagement and Visibility in the Division of Research and Sponsored Programs at TSU, center, makes a point at the NASA Technology Infusion workshop. (Photo by John Cross, TSU Media Relations)

The NASA HBCU/MSI Technology Infusion Road Tour, on its third HBCU stop, is designed to strengthen research enterprise at historically black colleges and universities and minority serving institutions by providing opportunities for faculty and students to engage in significant research activities.

The tour is also designed to help NASA and large prime contractors meet and/or exceed the agency’s mandated HBCUs/MSI goals.

“We want HBCUs and minority-serving institutions to be actually involved with the next type of technology that will get us beyond earth or tomorrow,” said Dr. Joseph Grant, NASA’s deputy program executive for Small Business Innovation Research. “These technologies are going to be developed by minds of students like those here at TSU and all over the country.”

Grant said HBCUs have a unique way of looking at solving problems that are not always tapped into.

“So what we are trying to do is to bring all the voices to the table to help us solve some of the complex problems that we are going to have. I know what the expertise are, where they lie, how we look at things, and how we attack a problem,” he said.

TSU Associate Vice President for Administration, Dr. Curtis Johnson, in a welcome statement on behalf of President Glenda Glover, said the NASA tour brings “new knowledge and opportunities to TSU.”

“We thank NASA and all of these other agencies for bringing this road trip to TSU,” Johnson said. “We are counting on our faculty and staff to fully maximize the benefit of this opportunity.”

Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young is TSU’s chief research officer and vice president of Research and Institutional Advancement. She said the NASA tour is “very critical” because HBCUs and MSIs have not had the opportunity to significantly participate in their share of federal funding.

“So this is going to teach them strategies on how to be successful in getting that funding,” Crumpton-Young said. “Our expectation is that through this tour and many other efforts, we are going to help strengthen the research enterprise, not only at TSU, but throughout the country.”

Before TSU, the NASA HBCU/MSI Technology Infusion Road Tour stopped at Tuskegee University and North Carolina Central University. The next stop is Jackson State University. Seven agencies and participants from 14 HBCUs attended the workshop at TSU, according to Crumpton-Young.

Tabisa Taliwaku Kalisa, program manager of the Office of Small Business Programs at NASA, said the agency wants to find ways to engage with more minority-serving institutions in its “industrial base.” She said NASA is not reaching its 1 percent goal of doing business with HBCUs and MSIs.

“We are having a hard time meeting those goals because most of our prime contractors cannot find schools that are capable of doing the work,” Kalisa said. “I truly believe that the schools are there, but we have to figure out the synergy to get those schools more engaged, to be able to know about opportunities, and be able to participate.”

Gwen Johnson is director of Small Business at Parsons, a prime contractor. She was part of a group of participants who toured research facilities and classrooms at TSU as part of the NASA visit, and was “very impressed.”

“I look forward to sharing this information with Parsons’ technical experts and connecting them specifically with the TSU Center of Excellence in Information Systems Research in areas of cyber security, data analytics and advanced control and identification systems,” she said.

Among other agencies and contractors at the workshop were the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Personnel Management, the Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Department of Army.

“The event allowed faculty to expose their students to research at a higher level, to conferences, internships and maybe even a new career as many of the agencies and companies represented are looking to add new talent to the workforce,” said John Barfield, director of engagement and visibility in TSU’s Division of Research and Institutional Advancement.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU hosts NASA Technology Infusion Road Tour

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is hosting an event this week to help make students aware of programs offered by NASA and other federal agencies.

https---cdn.evbuc.com-images-28153637-50988178194-1-originalThe NASA HBCU/MSI Technology Infusion Road Tour is April 4-5 and is an opportunity for students and university officials to learn more about the space agency’s Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP) in particular, as well as other programs.

The event will also feature key information from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Personnel Management, the Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Army and large prime contractors.

Throughout both days, there will be workshops, panel discussions and networking opportunities.

“The event allows faculty to expose their students to research at a higher level, to conferences, internships and maybe even a new career as many of the agencies and companies represented are looking to add new talent to the workforce,” said John Barfield, director of engagement and visibility in TSU’s Division of Research and Institutional Advancement.

For more information about the NASA HBCU/MSI Technology Infusion Road Tour, visithttps://sites.ed.gov/whhbcu/2016/02/05/the-2016-nasa-hbcumsi-technology-infusion-road-tour/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

 

 

 

Tennessee State University Alum and NASA Engineer Receives Director’s Commendation Award for Outstanding Contribution

NASA Johnson Space Center Director, Dr. Ellen Ochoa, right; and Deputy Director Kirk Shireman, left, congratulate Ron Cobbs after presenting him with the NASA-JSC Director’s Commendation Award, during a ceremony recently in the Teague Auditorium at the center.
NASA Johnson Space Center Director, Dr. Ellen Ochoa, right; and Deputy Director Kirk Shireman, left, congratulate Ron Cobbs after presenting him with the NASA-JSC Director’s Commendation Award, during a ceremony recently in the Teague Auditorium at the center. (Courtesy photo)


NASHVILLE, Tenn.
(TSU News Service) – A Tennessee State University alumnus and NASA engineer has been recognized for outstanding contribution to the agency.

Ron Cobbs, a 1989 TSU graduate with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and avionics chief engineer assigned to the International Space Station operations, recently received the NASA Johnson Space Center Director’s Commendation Award.

The award, the highest honor given by the NASA-JSC administrator, recognizes the center’s civil servants with “significant” contribution toward the mission and operations of the JSC.

Last year, Cobbs’ input was helpful in identifying the cause of a space suit malfunction during a spacewalk in July. Although Cobbs was not part of the official Extravehicular Mobility Unit (space suit) investigating team, he was asked to “look into” the situation because the problem “appeared to be electrical.”

Ron Cobbs, International Space Station Avionics Chief Engineer and TSU graduate, helped NASA engineers identify the cause of a serial interface issue with a spacesuit that malfunctioned during a spacewalk on July 16. (courtesy photo)
Ron Cobbs, International Space Station Avionics Chief Engineer and TSU graduate, helped NASA engineers identify the cause of a serial interface issue with a spacesuit that malfunctioned during a spacewalk on July 16, 2013. (courtesy photo)

“I discovered that the problem was a systems problem relative to operational use of the serial port on the laptop side of the suit,” said Cobbs, after investigating the problem. As a result of his findings and recommendation, the procedures for the astronauts were rewritten and retested, subsequently leading to identifying the problem.

Saying that he is “deeply honored” to receive the Administrator’s Award from NASA-JSC, Cobbs, who has been with NASA for nearly 30 years, credits his parents and his TSU preparation for his career success.

“My parents always taught me to work hard and always do the right thing,” said Cobbs, who also holds a master’s degree in Space Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. “They taught me to believe in myself, have faith and shoot for the moon.”

Shooting for the moon is what Cobbs has been doing since. As avionics chief engineer, his role is to ensure that engineers in the NASA Directorate adhere to the “right processes.” He also supports project managers during the design, development, test and evaluation of projects that require electronics and/or software for operational use.

“I also support Failure Investigation Teams whenever their failures or anomalies on the Space Station need to be resolved. I also sit on several Space Station program boards to provide concurrence representing engineering on all proposed forward plans and action that will be implemented,” Cobbs noted.

“Ronald Cobbs is a true example of an electrical engineering graduate with passion for life-long learning and professional growth,” Dr. Satinderpaul Singh Devgan, professor and head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said of his former student, when information came out about Cobbs’ spacesuit malfunction intervention.

Cobbs joined NASA at the Johnson Space Center immediately after graduating TSU. He has moved through the ranks from design engineer, systems engineer to now ISS avionics chief engineer.

“I think Ron Cobbs’ achievement at NASA is a great story,” added Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering.

 

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 42 undergraduate, 24 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Trained Engineer Helps NASA Troubleshoot Computer on Malfunctioned Spacesuit

Ron Cobbs, International Space Station Avionics Chief Engineer and TSU graduate, helped NASA engineers identify the cause of a serial interface issue with a spacesuit that malfunctioned during a spacewalk on July 16. (courtesy photo)
Ron Cobbs, International Space Station Avionics Chief Engineer and TSU graduate, helped NASA engineers identify the cause of a serial interface issue with a spacesuit that malfunctioned during a spacewalk on July 16. (courtesy photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Teamwork does pay even if you are not part of the team. Just be good at what you do.

Ask Ron Cobbs, a NASA avionics chief engineer assigned to the International Space Station operations. His input has helped investigators trying to unravel the cause of a spacesuit malfunction during a recent spacewalk.

“I personally am not part of the official Extravehicular Mobility Unit (space suit) investigation team that is looking into the suit anomaly,” said Cobb, a 1989 TSU graduate with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. “

However, Cobbs said, since the problem appeared to be electrical, he was asked to “look into” the situation.

“I discovered that the problem was a systems problem relative to operational use of the serial port on the laptop side of the suit,” he added.

As a result, the procedures for the astronauts were rewritten and retested, and subsequently lead to identifying the problem.

“It worked,” Cobbs exclaimed to the excitement of his fellow engineers.

It all started on July 16 when astronaut Luca Parmitano was doing a spacewalk outside the ISS when his suit malfunctioned, cutting short the spacewalk or extravehicular activity. Water used to cool the suit started to leak into his air ventilation system, causing the astronaut’s helmet to start filling with water. Crewmembers sent a short video describing the incident to ground control engineers.

Immediately, a team of investigators, not including Cobbs, was assembled to see what was the cause of the problem with the spacesuit. However, as astronauts and team engineers were having problem downloading the data from the suit for analysis, Cobbs was called in to troubleshoot the problem.

“I am not a mechanical engineer, nor would I have been able to troubleshoot the air recycling/thermal system, but they did call me because of a serial interface issue and I was able to help,” Cobbs said, adding, “The operations group wrote the procedures and the engineers told them how the hardware works, but forgot to tell them that everything works as a system.”

He said, operationally, the laptop Wi-Fi on the spacesuit was active with software loads operating in the background, but “no one asked how they all interact together.”

“It is not enough to know about the design product, but also how it works in the environment, what are the interfaces to the design, and who are the users. All of this is known as the Concept of Operations, which was not appropriately applied in this situation to find the cause of the problem,” Cobbs added.

Cobbs, who also holds a master’s degree in Space Systems Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology, said to solve the problem, he repeated the steps of the “documented procedure” to see if he could come out with the same “error.”

“I found out that there were some ambiguities that created the problem. The hardest part in the procedures was making sure they were clear so that anyone could understand them. Never assume that they already know,” he added.

“Ronald Cobbs is a true example of an electrical engineering graduate with passion for life-long learning and professional growth,” Dr. Satinderpaul Singh Devgan, professor and head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said of his former student.

“I think Ron Cobbs’ achievement at NASA is a great story,” added Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering.

Cobbs, who graduated TSU with honors, is a member of the Eta Kappa Nu Honor Society. He joined NASA at the Johnson Space Center immediately after graduating TSU. He has moved through the ranks from design engineer, systems engineer to now ISS avionics chief engineer.

Department of Media Relations
Tennessee State University
3500 John A. Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331


About Tennessee State University

With nearly 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university and is a comprehensive, urban, coeducational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 22 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top Universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912 Tennessee State University celebrates 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu