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Graduate strengthens university ties to NASA research center

January 8, 2013

Then he paused, smiled slightly and added, “Only with a lot neater stuff.”

Tim ReedReed started work this month as a manufacturing engineer at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, two weeks after graduating from University of Wisconsin-Stout.

He couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity, one he realizes doesn’t come along too often for students right out of college. “It’s quite a feeling knowing something you’re doing may go into space someday,” he said.

Reed was offered the full-time job last summer after working at Glenn Research Center from June through mid-September. The summer job was through UW-Stout’s Cooperative Education program.

His full-time position strengthens UW-Stout’s connection to Glenn Research Center. Since 2004 UW-Stout technology Professor Rajiv Asthana has worked summers, plus a yearlong sabbatical, on materials science at the center. Asthana also worked there full time from 1991-95 before coming to UW-Stout.

In 2009 two other students, one majoring in engineering technology and the other in manufacturing engineering, worked at the center through Cooperative Education.

Glenn Research Center employs more than 3,400 people in Cleveland and at a satellite facility in Sandusky, Ohio. The Cleveland facility has 150 buildings and covers 350 acres. It is named after John Glenn, the Ohio native and astronaut who in 1962 was the first American to orbit Earth.

Manufacturing research, testing

Reed will work on various manufacturing assignments related to space projects. The center generally serves as a research and testing facility for aerospace programs.

“We learn how to make something before it’s actually made (for space). The manufacturing process has to be pretty precise,” Reed said.

Reed, from Balsam Lake in northwestern Wisconsin, feels right at home with the hardware and software technology he’s using because of his education at UW-Stout.

“I knew all the (computer numerical control) machines, everything that was going on. Stout had me prepared really well. The manufacturing engineering program was even better than I thought it would be. It was really hands-on,” he said. “Here, we made castings. At other schools you might just read about it.”

During his internship, Reed did computer modeling for the Orion spacecraft, which is expected to launch in 2014. Orion is an exploratory vehicle for future deep space missions.

Asthana said Reed was a conscientious student with an excellent work ethic. “He was never bashful in asking questions, and he always insisted on getting complete and convincing answers to his questions in a very respectful yet persistent manner,” Asthana said.

Materials research, testing

Asthana has worked at GRC for eight years on materials science research related to joining and integrating technical ceramics and metals.

Rajiv Asthana“Some of the materials I study such as zirconia, silicon nitride and carbon-carbon have proven industrial potential. Others such as ultra-high temperature composites and highly conductive graphite foams are still under development,” he said.

The materials and joints are intended for use with future gas turbines, high-temperature structures, solid oxide fuel cells and ultralight thermal management systems.

Asthana, who has a doctorate in engineering from UW-Milwaukee, in 2009 was named a fellow of the American Society for Materials, ASM International, for his contributions to cast composites and ceramic-metal joining. He is chief editor of Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance.

Asthana began working on cast composites in 1983, after earning his M.S. in materials science, at India’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. He continued his research at NASA in the early 1990s. His current work on joining ceramics and metals is a natural progression of his research to combine ceramic fibers and metals in composites.

He presents research regularly, including last year in Japan, at the Department of Energy in Arlington, Va., and at GE Global in Schenectady, N.Y.

With funds from his appointment as the first Holtby Endowed Chair in Manufacturing Engineering at UW-Stout, Asthana involves graduate and undergraduate students in research on joining and composites. He and past undergraduate and graduate students have co-authored papers in peer-reviewed professional journals such as Ceramics International and Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance.

Asthana is the author or co-author of five books, including one of the first books on solidification of reinforced metals. He also is co-editor of “Ceramic Integration and Joining Technology,” published in 2012 and is co-editing a book on green and sustainable manufacturing of advanced materials.

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