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Feb. 21, 2002

John Bluck

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Phone: 650/604-5026 or 604-9000

jbluck@mail.arc.nasa.gov



RELEASE 02-19AR

NASA 'WEBCASTS' TO CELEBRATE NATIONAL ENGINEERS WEEK

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: http://quest.nasa.gov/events/eweek/index2002.html 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 dream."

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, EarthKAM 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 9-12.

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.

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