2017 IRPS Keynote Presentations

First Keynote: Reflections on the risk of human space exploration – lessons learned from past failures

Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg

NASA Astronaut; Principal Engineer, NASA Engineering and Safety Center

keynote1-nancy-currieAbstract: Human spaceflight is an inherently risky endeavor. From the first missions to explore space to recent problems on the International Space Station, NASA has faced many challenges and has relied on creative and innovative ways to overcome issues, complete the mission, and ensure the safe return of crew members. However, over the past 50 years, NASA has also experienced three fatal accidents resulting in the loss of seventeen astronauts – the Apollo 1 fire on the launch pad, the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion during ascent, and the destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia during entry. Studying the lessons learned from the Challenger and Columbia accidents, as well as similarities in those two tragedies, provides a prospective of cultural, organizational, and management failures that can occur in any engineering organization managing extremely complex systems operated in high risk environments.

Biography: Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg is currently a Principal Engineer with the NASA Engineering and Safety Center at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. She has spent the vast portion of her military and government career supporting NASA’s human spaceflight programs and projects. Selected as an astronaut in 1990, she accrued 1000 hours in space serving as a mission specialist on four space shuttle missions – STS-57 in 1993; STS-70 in 1995; STS-88, the first International Space Station assembly mission in 1998; and STS-109, the fourth Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission in 2002. A Master Army Aviator, she logged over 4,000 flying hours in a variety of rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft. Following a 15-year tenure in the U.S. Astronaut Corps, she retired from the U.S. Army at the rank of Colonel and has served in a variety of senior engineering and safety positions at NASA. As Senior Technical Assistant for the Automation, Robotics, and Simulation Division she was responsible for the development of human-robotic systems interfaces for advanced space systems. Following the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy in 2003, she led the Space Shuttle Program Safety and Mission Assurance Office assisting with NASA’s Return to Flight efforts. Prior to her assignment to the NASA Engineering and Safety Center, she served as Deputy Director of JSC’s Engineering Directorate.

Dr. Currie-Gregg received her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from The Ohio State University, a master of science in safety engineering from University of Southern California, and a doctorate in industrial engineering with an emphasis in human factors engineering and automated systems from University of Houston. She currently holds an academic appointment as Adjunct Associate Professor in Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina State University.

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Second Keynote: System Level Reliability Challenges with Technology Scaling

Mr. Ronald Newhart

IBM Distinguished Engineer, IBM Systems & Technology Group

Mr. Ronald Newhart is currently a Distinguished Engineer with IBM working in the Systems & Technology Group, focusing on product engineering and reliability. His first nineteen years with IBM entailed assignments in semiconductor parametric and functional characterization, memory design, yield modeling, and reliability engineering. For the past sixteen years, he has been the lead technology interface to the IBM POWER and Z Series circuit design teams. Ron’s contributions have supported the development and manufacturing of more than nine generations of POWER and Z System microprocessors. Ron frequently consults on complex problems that span design, process, and technology for both IBM internal products and other IBM System supplier components. He has co-authored fourteen US Patents and has received several corporate awards.

Mr. Newhart has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Science degree in System Management from the University of Southern California.

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