Press Release

NASA Webcasts to Celebrate National Engineers Week

By SpaceRef Editor
February 21, 2002
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Students from across the nation can interact live with NASA engineers
during six ‘webcasts’ from Feb. 25 to March 1 as a follow-up to National
Engineers Week, which ends Feb. 23.
Webcasts enable students to watch live video, listen to audio and interact
in real-time on the Internet with experts.

The webcast programs are on the Web at: The
free programs require no registration and are viewable using free software.

“EarthKAM is a payload designed especially for middle school students to
conduct research projects utilizing images of the Earth taken from space,”
said Brion Au, the senior project engineer for EarthKAM at NASA Johnson
Space Center (JSC), Houston. Au will participate in the first one-hour
webcast on Feb. 25 that will begin at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST). “I work
with the EarthKAM principal investigator, former astronaut Dr. Sally Ride,
to make sure that all of the payload components work the way they are
designed, that they are tested, and that the astronaut crew is trained on
how to set up and operate EarthKAM.”

“Demonstrating the rich variety of jobs that engineers do at NASA can serve
to enthuse students to pursue a career in engineering,” said Linda Conrad
of the NASA Quest website at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s
Silicon Valley. “During our webcasts, students can interact with real
engineers who work in exciting NASA jobs that students may not have
considered before.”

Laurie Darling, a cooperative student who works at JSC and who is studying
aerospace engineering at the University at Buffalo, will participate in the
second webcast Feb. 26 as member of a panel of students.

“Some activities that make up my work include making decisions on how,
when, where and why the shuttle will rendezvous with the space station,”
Darling said. “Math skills are crucial to this job, as are knowledge of the
Russian and Japanese languages since we work with the Russians and Japanese
to help them build safe space vehicles.”

“It is really exciting to be a part of the training of the flight and
ground crew for the operation of the International Space Station,” said
Louis Malone II, another of the students on the panel. “Sometimes, I feel
as though I am in a dream . . . it all seems so surreal. But, I am not in a

A third student on the panel, Fernando Zumbado, works at the Advanced Space
Propulsion Laboratory at JSC. “The main research project is geared toward a
variable specific-impulse magnetoplasma rocket,” he said. “This plasma
rocket will give spacecraft greater speed than conventional rockets. For
example, the duration of space flight in traveling from the Earth to Mars
is three times faster than when using chemical rockets.”

Ralph Anderson is an electronics engineer at JSC who will take part in the
first of two webcasts on Feb. 27. “I am responsible for crewmember
equipment, from food and clothing to the most complex communications and
video equipment,” he said. “I like the fact that there is no work like this
anywhere else in the world — this is what I like best about my work.”

The second Feb. 27 webcast will feature Anthony Bruins of JSC, who works as
a system engineer/integrator. “I currently work in the Advanced Projects
and Analysis Office developing state-of-the-art technology to support
flight controllers in the Mission Control Center,” he said. “My job is to
generate new ideas, develop new systems and integrate them to work together
to support mission operations. This is not always easy, and takes a lot of
creativity, innovation, risking, failing, heart, courage, faith,
persistence, perseverance and belief.”

Craig Schafer of JSC is an electrical engineer as well as a physicist who
will interact with students during the Feb. 28 webcast. “I help make sure
the International Space Station runs smoothly by making sure the payloads
get the quiet microgravity environment we promised them,” he said.

The final webcast will be with JSC mechanical engineer Elizabeth Bloomer on
March 1. “My first job was to teach astronauts and flight controllers how
to work parts of the shuttle, such as how to open the payload bay doors,”
she said. “Then I worked on the shuttle training aircraft, which is a jet
that the astronauts use to practice landing the space shuttle. After that,
I worked on the payloads that the shuttle takes into space. I also worked
to make a class that will teach the astronauts how to use some of the
equipment that will be on the space station. My last assignment was as a
flight controller for the space shuttle.”

Internet Webcast Schedule

Feb. 25 at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) — Brian Au, EwºKAM Project Engineer,
“Station News Update,” for grades 6-8.

Feb. 26 at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) — A panel of NASA cooperative
education students will talk about the JSC Cooperative Education Program, a
work-study program for college students, and their projects, for grades

Feb. 27 at 8 a.m. PST (11 a.m. EST) — Ralph Anderson, Electronics
Engineer, for grades 4-6.

Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) — Anthony Bruins, systems integration
engineer, will discuss “Systems Integration-An Important Skill for Success
and the Virtual Human Project,” for grades 6-8.

Feb. 28 at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) — Craig Schafer, electrical
engineer/physicist, will discuss “Microgravity,” for grades 9-12.

March 1 at 11 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST) — Elizabeth Bloomer, mechanical
engineer, will discuss “The International Space Station Robotic Arm, ” for
grades 4-6.

Reporters may telephone Linda Conrad, 650/604-1519 for more Quest Internet
details. NASA Quest webcasts provide opportunities for educators from all
over the world to bring space science content to the classroom through
Internet technology. Webcasts are just some of many Internet offerings
from NASA Quest. Online, interactive projects connect students with NASA
employees and are designed to inspire young people to pursue careers in
high technology.

SpaceRef staff editor.