Two NASA Teams Win IEEE Stepping Stone Awards
On July 27th IEEE Region 5 dedicated Stepping Stone awards to two NASA teams that have been crucial to The National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA) programs. One award was presented for the creation of the Analytic Ephemeris Generator (AEG), which provided the rapid planning and real-time orbit predictor for early space programs. Subsequent advancement of the AEG is still used in manned space mission orbit predictions. The AEG plaque will be seen by all Space Center Houston visitors going for the Mission Control visit.
Another stepping stone award was presented to the Electronic Systems Test Laboratory (ESTL). NASA and the Johnson Space Center was recognized for the development of the Electronic Systems Test Laboratory (ESTL) which supported the complexities of an entirely new communications technique – a unified voice / data carrier. Subsequent system configurations are currently providing the testing for newer technical advances in communication techniques.
The IEEE Region 5 Stepping Stone Award in the IEEE Fields of Interest honors significant technical achievements in these fields. Stepping Stones recognize technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity found in unique products, services, seminal papers, and patents. An achievement must have importance to the technologies associated with Region 5 in order to be proposed as a Stepping Stone—e.g. invented, initially demonstrated, first used, produced in Region 5.
Stepping Stones honor the achievement, rather than necessarily a place or a person. Stepping Stones may be proposed by any Region 5 IEEE member.
The days festivities started with a luncheon, at the Johnson Space Center Gilruth Center, held in honor of the members of the AEG and ESTL teams and their families. Also, in attendance were NASA JSC Leadership, IEEE dignitaries from IEEE national, Region 5, the Galveston Bay Section, and the Houston section. While enjoying a fabulous lunch, catered from the Cuisine of India, the special guests were presented with addresses from the Vanessa Wyche, the Deputy Director of JSC, James Jefferies, the 2018 IEEE President, Sandra Robinson, 2018 IEEE-USA President, and Linda Bromley, retired NASA/JSC ESTL manager.
The next activity, also in the Gilruth Center in the Destiny Ballroom was open to the public. The highly attended event was started with an introduction by Dr. Zafar Taqvi, the IEEE Region 5 History Chair. Next Robert Shapiro, the IEEE Region 5 director explained the purpose and history of the IEEE Stepping Stone Awards. James Jefferies, the IEEE past president then gave a presentation about IEEE and its role in supporting the electrical engineering profession and its mission of advancing technology for humanity. Ken Young and Merritt Jones, both former NASA engineers on the Analytic Ephemeris Generator (AEG) team gave presentations that explained the story of AEG, its early days, triumphs, and present-day impact of this technology on current operations.
Next, two insightful presentations about the Electronic System Test Lab (ESTL) were given by Sharon Marston, the ESTL Manager of NASA/JCS and Bruce Manners, the Chief of the Avionics Systems Division of NASA/JSC.
Plaques were presented to Vanessa Wyche, Deputy Director of NASA/JSC and to AEG and ESTL teams by James Jefferies.
The next part of the festivities involved a small group of invitees who were taken in buses, first to building 30 in the Johnson Space Center, also known as the mission control center, for the unveiling of the AEG IEEE Stepping Stone Plaque and photographs with the AEG team.
Next the group were bussed to the Johnson Space Center building 44, the current home of the Electronics System Test Lab. The ESTL IEEE Stepping Stone Plaque is permanently displayed in the lobby of Building 44.
Dr. Zafar Taqvi, IEEE Region 5 History Chairceremonies and presentations, for making the grand day happen. Many traveled far to attend and to be honored, and to remember and honor those who couldn’t be there. These two great NASA teams made valuable additions to electrical engineering history and the permanent IEEE Stepping Stone award plaques will remind the next generation of engineers about these achievements, which will inspire them to greater accomplishments in the future.
Article by Vincent Palughi
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