ECE @ HSI Workshop Series: Session 4

Engaging with the NASA Enterprise


Workshop Session 4

One of the key objectives of the proposed Coalition for Innovation, Education and Research in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Hispanic Serving Institutions (ECE@HSI) is to support and facilitate the engagement of students and faculty from ECE Departments at Hispanic Serving Institutions with NASA Programs and Centers. In this workshop, we have invited an outstanding group of panelists from NASA and the Space Grant Program to talk about opportunities to engage with NASA on research and development, education, and outreach. These panelists will also provide their input on how the ECE@HSI coalition could enable and support student and faculty engagement with NASA and broadening participation in ECE.
Join us to participate and engage in the discussion with our guests to learn about opportunities at NASA. We also welcome the opportunity to hear about your individual experiences in engaging with NASA.
The workshop will follow a flipped format with pre-recorded presentations that will be posted in the workshops website followed by a discussion session on Friday, December 4, 2020 from 11:00 am to 12:30 EST.
This workshop is part of the planning process that will inform the development of a concept paper to establish the Coalition for Inspiration, Education and Research in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Hispanic Serving Institutions (ECE@HSI) with the overarching goal of increasing participation and graduation of Hispanic students in electrical and computer engineering.
This planning grant is funded by NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) under award 80NSSC20K1769


Pre-Recorded Video Presentations

M. David Kankam, NASA Glenn Research Center




David E. Brock, MSFC Small Business Specialist and NASA Mentor-Protégé Program Manager


Debbie Batson, Teledyne Brown Engineering
Dr. Rama Venkat, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Scott Hutchins, NASA MSFC CS10
David Reynolds, NASA MSFC ES01


Tim Urban, Director, Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC)

This talk will discuss programs from the Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) and summarize the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (Space Grant). The National Space Grant involves students and faculty in all 50 states, Washington DC, and Puerto Rico. TSGC supports students and faculty at a wide variety of more than 50 academic institutions in Texas. TSGC engages with NASA through both state and national activities and supports student engagement at all academic levels. In particular, the TSGC Design Challenge program leverages a series of NASA research topics each semester for undergraduate team research. Student designs are showcased at the end of each semester via written and oral communication, NASA and faculty judges review each design, and top teams are awarded scholarships. Students and faculty work on NASA topics related to astronauts and the International Space Station, the Artemis program and return to the Moon, and future Mars exploration.

Gerardo Morell, University of Puerto Rico



Debbie Batson
Director, Large/Small Business Strategic Alliances
Teledyne Brown Engineering
Debbie Batson supports the Aerospace, Maritime, Defense and Energy and Environmental Business Units within Teledyne Brown Engineering (TBE) as the Director, Large/Small Business Strategic Alliances. Debbie has played a significant role in developing small businesses through advocacy with large prime contractors and government agencies. Her broad background covers financial practices, government contracting, and business development strategy and execution. Debbie is a Huntsville native and has been employed with Teledyne Brown Engineering for 20 years. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Tennessee Technological University.

David E. Brock
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP) Program Manager
Small Business Specialist (SBS)
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC)
Mr. Brock currently serves as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP) Program Manager and Small Business Specialist (SBS) at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama. In his role as the NASA MPP Program Manager, he works closely with NASA large business prime contractors and small businesses to help forge relationships designed to grow the technical and business capabilities of small businesses under NASA approved Mentor-Protégé Agreements. As SBS, he provides strategic guidance and direction in the planning, coordination, and implementation of the NASA Small Business Program at MSFC. Mr. Brock entered the Federal sector in December 1984, when he joined the NASA family as a Procurement Analyst assigned to the Office of Procurement. He has been actively involved in the NASA Small Business program for more than 34 of his 36 years of service. He was officially appointed to the position of SBS in January 2005, and was named Program Manager of NASA’s MPP in October 2019. Mr. Brock is a native of Boaz, Alabama, has been married to his wife Shirley for 45 years, has one son, and three grandchildren. He graduated from Boaz High School in 1971, received a Certificate of Business from the Gadsden Business College in 1973, Associate Degree in Science from Snead State Community College in Boaz in 1980, and Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Alabama in Birmingham in 1983. He is an avid reader, and enjoys

Steven Holz
Aerospace Engineer
UI Assistant Program Manager
University Innovation (UI) Project
Steven became the Assistant Project Manager for the University Innovation (UI) Project in 2020. In this role, he supports NASA in educating the next generation of aeronautical innovators by providing opportunities for university-led teams to conduct research into transformative technology that supports NASA Aeronautics’ major research goals. Steven began his career at NASA working on the Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project as a Pathways Intern while finishing his graduate engineering coursework. After converting to a permanent civil service position, Steven worked conducting systems analysis as well as systems engineering for NASA projects including the Transformative Aeronautics Concepts Program’s (TACP) CAS X-Plane Study, the UAV Range Support for Hypersonic Flight Test Evaluation Study, Advanced Air Transport Technology Project’s (AATT) AATT’s SUGAR Truss-Braced Wing, the Aeronautics Evaluation and Test Capabilities (AETC) Program, and the Air Traffic Management eXploration (ATM-X) Project. In addition to his NASA Aeronautics work, Steven supports NASA’s work with small business through the SBIR program, and advocates for diversity and inclusion through leadership in NASA’s Employee Resource Groups. He received his Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering and Master’s in Industrial Engineering from the University of Central Florida (UCF),

Mark David Kankam
University Affairs Officer (UAO)
NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC)
Dr. Kankam is the University Affairs Officer (UAO) of NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Cleveland/OH, with oversight responsibility for Center implementation of NASA Higher Education research collaboration with academia, to help advance Center programs and NASA missions. His responsibilities include interface and interactions with NASA HQ Mission Directorates and Office of STEM Engagement, as well as, national and international Academia and GRC stakeholders. He has developed, instituted and managed a number of Higher Education programs to help train and develop the future generation of scientists and engineers. He was formerly a NASA Senior Research Engineer for over ten years during which he identified, planned, managed and performed research on the development of power and power electronics-based systems for aerospace and terrestrial applications. He then served in management, technical leadership, and technical administrator roles to help advance NASA mission-related technologies, establish University Research Institutes, and increase US market share of globally competitive electric/hybrid electric cars. As a NASA Administrator’s Fellow, he was a Visiting Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at Howard University in Washington, D.C., a Study Director at the NRC’s Aeronautics Systems Engineering Board, and a Visiting Research Engineer at the Royal Military College of Science in Shrivenham, England.
Prior to joining NASA, Dr. Kankam was a Research Officer working on ground transportation systems at the R/D Division of Ontario Ministry of Transportation & Communications in Toronto/Canada, an Engineer on bulk power system reliability at Ontario Hydro Electric Power Commission in Toronto and, subsequently, an Application Engineer on power systems dynamics and control at General Electric Company in Schenectady, NY. He served on Ohio Miami University’s Research Advisory Committee (2008-2011), and Puerto Rico Space Grant Consortium Advisory Board (2007-2009). Since 2005, he has served on the Industry Advisory Committee of Cleveland State University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering where he periodically lectures.
Dr. Kankam is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He has served on IEEE’s Industry Applications Society (IAS) Fellowship Evaluation Committee. He was IAS Executive Board member from 1/1/2010 to 1/31/2011, and a Member-at-Large from 1/1/2012 to 12/31/2012. From 2001 through 2006, he was the Secretary, Vice-Chair and Chair of the IAS’s Industrial Automation and Control Committee. He serves as Vice-President of the IEEE Smart Village’s (ISVx) Project Development Committee since May 2018. He Vice-Chaired and Chaired the ISVx-Power Africa Conference (PAC) Planning Committee in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and served on a Technical Committee of the 2020 ISVx/PAC.
He earned his Diploma in Business Administration (Management Studies), and Ph.D., M.A.Sc. and B.A.Sc. (Applied Science & Engineering) in Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has presented numerous technical papers at Conferences and authored over fifty technical reports, and more than sixty refereed publications on the dynamics and control of power and power electronics-based systems in IEEE and affiliated organizations’ Conferences Proceedings, Journals and Transactions. He has received numerous technical, Management and outreach Awards and recognitions, including 2019 “NASA Equal Employment Opportunity Medal” “for outstanding demonstration of sustained commitment to diversity and inclusion through dynamic collaboration with the higher education community, as well as, 1996 IEEE “First Prize All Paper Award”.

Gerardo Morell
University Affairs Officer

James Neilan
Computer Engineer

Jose Núñez
Chief, Flight Technologies Branch
Dr. Núñez became KSC’s University Partnerships & Small Satellite Capabilities Manager in June 2019. In this capacity he is tasked with increasing collaborations between University Principal Investigators and KSC as well as leveraging infrastructure to increase University Small Sat development activities. Before that he was the Chief of the Flight Technologies Branch for the Exploration Research and Technology Programs Office at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA. In this capacity, he led a group of Science and Technology Researchers in the areas of Electrostatics, Advanced Habitats, Suborbital Flights, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle sensors, and Space Flight Demonstrations.
Over the course of his 31 yr career at NASA, Dr. Nunez has performed in multiple leadership, engineering, project and mission management roles working on the International Space Station (ISS) Program with Government, Contractor, and University personnel across the U.S. and Internationals such as Brazil, Canada, Japan, Germany, Italy and Spain.
He received his Bachelor’s in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Florida (UF), and master’s and Doctorate in Industrial Engineering from the University of Central Florida (UCF). He is a registered Professional Engineer (PE) in the State of Florida and has taught at UCF and the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) as an adjunct professor.

David Reynolds
Special Assistant
Space Systems Department within the Engineering Directorate
Over the past 34 years at NASA/MSFC David has worked on a variety of tasks and programs ranging from Space Launch System (SLS) ground processing operations, deep space habitat design, and International Space Station (ISS) Payload real-time operations. Currently serves as Special Assistant responsible for seeking and coordinating technology development, investment, and collaboration opportunities for the Space Systems Department within the Engineering Directorate. Passionate about mentoring early career workforce and intern engagement through establishing sustainable workforce resources such as the MSFC MakerSpace and Extended Reality (XRSpace). Officially became manager of the MSFC Dual-Use Technology Cooperative Agreement Notices (CAN) on November 2, 2020.

Nancy Searby
Program Manager
Capacity Building 
Dr. Searby manages the Capacity Building Program for NASA’s Applied Sciences Program in the Earth Science Division, part of the Science Mission Directorate, at NASA Headquarters in Washington DC, USA. Nancy champions applying Earth Science data to decisions and actions that improve society. Through training, feasibility projects, and services co-development, the program builds individual and institutional capacity In the United States, in and through regional networks in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, and globally to improve disaster resilience, biodiversity and ecosystem sustainability, water resources management, public health surveillance, and food security and sustainable agriculture. She participates in related interagency and international activities to help stakeholders make decisions across areas of societal benefit identified by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the regional AmeriGEO, and serves as Co-Chair of the GEO Capacity Development Working Group and Chair of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites’ Working Group on Capacity Building and Data Democracy.

Timothy Urban
Texas Space Grant Consortium
Dr. Urban is the director of the Texas Space Grant Consortium (TSGC) based at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Research Associate at the Center for Space Research whose background includes satellite geodesy, remote sensing, and climate change and has worked with NASA missions TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason, GRACE, and ICESat among others. The TSGC is a coalition of more than 50 academic institutions in that state. Dr. Urban leads the NASA-centered TSGC Design Challenge program for undergraduate academic institutions.

Rama Venkat
Dean, Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Rama Venkat is the Dean of the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering and a Professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering. While serving in this capacity, he has been instrumental in growing the College including developing the College of Engineering Senior Design Competition, spearheading collaboration between various schools at UNLV, and creating partnerships with government agencies and the private sector to help bring university innovations to the public and enhance employment opportunities for students. His research areas of interest include solid state sensors, devices, physics, and modeling of devices and photonics. Venkat first came to UNLV in 1989, becoming a full professor in 1998, and serving as Chair of the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from 2000-2006. He became Dean of the College in 2010. During his tenure, he has authored or co-authored 43 referred journal publications, supervised and graduated nearly 30 graduate students, won a variety of teaching awards, and brought in more than $2,000,000 in research funds. Venkat has a Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, an M.S. in Metallurgical Engineering from Purdue University and a Bachelor of Technology in Metallurgical Engineering from the Indian Institute Technology in Madras, India.

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