Top NASA space technologist to visit with Purdue faculty, students

October 1, 2012  


Mason Peck

Mason Peck
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - NASA Chief Technologist Mason Peck will meet with students and faculty at Purdue University on Wednesday (Oct. 3) to discuss the agency's current and upcoming new technology and innovation initiatives.

Peck, who was appointed to the NASA post earlier this year, will give a public lecture at 1 p.m. in the Deans Auditorium, Room 241, in Pfendler Hall. He also will tour Purdue research facilities, including the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Discovery Park and the Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories.

In addition to giving an overview of the space program's renewed emphasis on technology and innovation as the underpinning of its current and future missions, Peck will brief students and faculty on NASA's Space Technology Research Fellowships Program, said Jeff Bolin, Purdue associate vice president for research.

His visit, organized by the Purdue offices of the Vice President for Research and the Vice President for Governmental Relations, is part a series of university tours by NASA leaders to promote the agency's new technology and innovation initiatives.

Peck also will visit the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on Thursday (Oct. 4). Meanwhile, NASA Space Technology Program Director Michael Gazarik is visiting the University of Virginia on Tuesday (Oct. 2), Duke University on Wednesday (Oct. 3), and North Carolina State University on Thursday (Oct. 4).

Recent visits through this NASA program also have included the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the University of Texas El Paso. 

Through the space technology research fellowships, NASA is providing the nation with a pipeline of highly skilled engineers and technologists to improve U.S. competitiveness while developing the intellectual and technological foundation needed for future science and exploration missions. The program accelerates the development of technologies originating from academia that support NASA, other government agencies and the commercial space sector.

NASA Space Technology Fellows perform innovative space technology research while building the skills necessary to become future technological leaders. Grants of up to $60,000 per year provide funding for U.S. graduate students to perform research on their respective campuses and at NASA centers and nonprofit U.S. research and development laboratories.

As NASA's chief technologist, Peck serves as the agency's principal adviser and advocate on technology policy and programs. As the chief technology advocate, he communicates how NASA technologies benefit space missions and the day-to-day lives of Americans.

The Office of the Chief Technologist coordinates, tracks and integrates technology investments across the space agency and works to infuse innovative discoveries into future missions. The office also documents, demonstrates and communicates the societal impact of NASA's technology investments.

In addition, the chief technologist leads NASA technology transfer and technology commercialization efforts, facilitating internal creativity and innovation, and works directly with other government agencies, the commercial aerospace community and academia.

Peck serves as NASA's chief technologist through an intergovernmental personnel agreement with Cornell University, where he is on the faculty as an associate professor in the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and teaches in Cornell's Systems Engineering Program.

With a doctorate degree in aerospace engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, Peck has a broad background in aerospace technology, which comes from nearly 20 years in industry and academia. He has worked with NASA as an engineer on a variety of technology programs, including the Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites.

The NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts sponsored his academic research in modular spacecraft architectures and propellant-less propulsion, and the International Space Station currently hosts his research group's flight experiment in microchip-size spacecraft.

Media Contacts:

Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

David Steitz, 202-358-1730, david.steitz@nasa.gov

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