Teams from NASA, Jacobs Engineering and Raytheon located at the Johnson Space Center partnered with members of BayTech and the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership (BAYHEP) to host the mid-year meeting of Pumps and Pipes, a collaborative effort between three of Houston’s largest industries to find synergies in each other’s expansive technology portfolios.
Held at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, the conference focused on connecting professionals from the medical, oil and gas and aerospace industries to explore each other’s “toolkit,” looking across industry for complimentary technologies that could provide innovative solutions to problems. As part of this, NASA showcased a “Top 10” of its current technology projects, including cold storage, augmented reality, telerobotics, fuel cells, ice drilling and water cleanup.
During the opening ceremonies, JSC Director Ellen Ochoa was named as one of the joint directors of Pumps and Pipes while astronaut Scott Parazynski was appointed to the partnership’s board of advisors. In her opening remarks, Ochoa touched on the numerous beneficial partnerships JSC has formed with businesses outside of NASA.
“JSC has placed an emphasis on our commitment to being engaged outside our fence by creating the Strategic Opportunities and Partnership Development Office,” Ochoa explained. “This office facilitates a variety of relationships locally, statewide and nationally, helping us to expand relevance of NASA technology to life on Earth.”
Some of the resultant technologies from these partnerships include a new fiber-optic monitoring system for oil rig platforms, improvements in the transportation of critically ill newborns, and new uses for NASA developed robotic systems for patient rehabilitation and prosthetic devices.
The event also gave an update on the six current challenges the symposium is seeking to solve. Each of the major three industries has been assigned two challenges that have direct applications across industry lines. The challenges currently led by NASA are the use of robots in hostile environments and ubiquitous wireless smart sensing and control.
Pumps and Pipes was created after members of the medical and oil and gas industry discovered the many similarities they share in technology and the problems their industries face. After several years of collaboration, NASA and the aerospace sector were invited to unite the three largest industries in the Houston area.