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Tuskegee University among recent NASA Marshall Space Flight Center research award winners

 A recent award from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center underscores the research strengths found in Tuskegee’s College of Engineering.

For the first time in its history, Tuskegee University is the recipient of the Small Business Subcontractor of the Year Award from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The award was presented for exemplary research support the university has provided NASA in partnership with the Huntsville-based Jacobs Space Exploration Group.

“I was my pleasure to nominate Tuskegee University for the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Subcontractor of the Year Award,” said Randy Lycans, Jacobs’ vice president and program manager. “Tuskegee has performed extremely well in support of Jacobs on our Engineering Services and Science Capability Augmentation contract. During the course of our partnership, several students have spent the spring and summer terms with us under our intern program providing valuable technical contributions to the Space Launch System program.”

The Jacobs-Tuskegee relationship began in 2009 when Jacobs established a Mentor Protégé Agreement with the university to provide Jacobs with professional engineering subcontracting support. The Engineering Services and Science Capability Augmentation contract, awarded by NASA in August 2017, has included design, analysis, development and testing services and skills across a broad spectrum of engineering and science disciplines. These have supported the Marshall Engineering Directorate as well as other current and future programs and projects across the center. The partnership has also benefited NASA activities and other projects for which Marshall has responsibility, including support to the Department of Defense, and other government, commercial or educational activities.

According to Dr. Heshmat Aglan, dean of the College of Engineering, Tuskegee’s team comprises nine full-time employees — including one Tuskegee graduate who formerly interned for Jacobs. Students periodically rotate through the research team as part of their semester-long internships.

“Tuskegee’s College of Engineering provides key support to the Jacobs Space Exploration Group and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center,” Aglan explained. “Our team’s strengths and contributions lie in the areas of software development and testing support, propulsion design and fluid dynamics, contamination control, polymers and composites, and systems engineering for the proposed Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway space station.”

In addition, these partnerships have included hosting NASA-related outreach events — such as hosting the agency’s Historically Black College and University/Minority-Serving Institution Technology Infusion Road Tour in April 2019, and participating in the Manufacturing and Fabrication Joint Counseling Initiative Meeting in June 2019.

The award was among those presented by the center during its Industry and Advocate Awards for fiscal year 2019 — part of the Marshall Small Business Alliance meeting Sept. 19 at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Tuskegee’s selection places it in contention for the Agency Small Business Subcontractor of the Year Award, which will be announced at a later date by NASA’s Office of Small Business Programs.

The Small Business Subcontractor of the Year Award is the second award stemming from Tuskegee’s ongoing research relationship with Jacobs. In March 2019, Jacobs awarded Tuskegee one of its 2018 Supplier Excellence Awards, which it presents to its partners for outstanding support and dedication to excellence in service.

“These award winners represent the best of our supplier team, and we could not perform our mission of providing superior engineering and science support to MSFC without them,” Lycans said at the time of the awards’ presentation.

By: Tuskegees University