Thousands of talented, dedicated and passionate people work at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. They are rocket scientists and engineers. They are researchers and physicists and chemists. They are aviation specialists, public affairs officers, administrative assistants, security officers, logistics managers and more. With countless specializations in myriad fields, the people of Glenn share one goal: working for the public in support of NASA's mission.
The diverse Glenn workforce is comprised of civil servants and on-site support contractors. Workers perform a large variety of different jobs at NASA Glenn. "My Job at NASA Glenn" is a series that introduces some of these workers. Learn about different employees and the interesting jobs they perform, and how their education prepared them to make unique and important contributions to NASA.
Materials Research Engineer
Image Credit: NASA
What that means:
I work in the Durability and Protective Coatings branch, designing and testing advanced materials systems for protection in extreme environments.
What I do:
I use plasma spray processing to deposit thermal and environmental protective ceramic coatings on advanced engine materials. These coatings are designed to improve component capability and durability, thereby making engines more efficient.
The coolest / most interesting part of my job is:
Working with the one-of-a-kind Low Pressure Plasma Spray - Thin Film (LPPS-TF) rig. The plasma flame can reach up to 7 feet long and 3 feet wide.
The Low Pressure Plasma Spray - Thin Film rig is a facility that was just built at Glenn in 2010, and is one of two such facilities in the country and of only a few worldwide. The technology is a state of the art processing method of creating thin ceramic coatings.
These coatings are deposited onto metal or ceramic subcomponents or larger turbine engine parts. To create these coatings, ceramic powder is injected into a very high power plasma under a vacuum. During operation, the plasma flame is approximately 7 feet long and about 3 feet wide. The ceramic material is vaporized within the flame, and condenses onto the target component.
The LPPS-TF rig is a research and development facility, and the primary use at this point in time is to fabricate cutting edge single and multilayer environmental and thermal barrier coating systems for protection in extreme environments.
My favorite project that I have worked, or that I am working on, is:
Developing next generation coatings using the LPPS-TF rig. There are only a few such facilities in the world, and this new processing technique allows creation of microstructures that were not possible using conventional plasma spray methods.
The accomplishment that I am most proud of is:
Receiving my doctorate in Materials Science.
A Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education helped me by:
Providing me with the tools to understand how materials interact with each other and the opportunity to develop new technologies to address real world problems.
Good advice for students, including STEM students, is:
Don't be afraid to be challenged. Very few things are easy the first time; have the perseverance to work through the subjects that are challenging. When you succeed, it will be much more rewarding.