CSULB Engineering Team Competing in Rover Contest Again

rover-over2A multidisciplinary team from CSULB’s College of Engineering will be back competing in RASC-AL Robo Ops again this year. The CSULB team was among eight finalists selected to design and build a rover and travel to NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston to test its performance on Mars-like terrain.

Sponsored by NASA and managed by the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA), RASC-AL—short for Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts-Academic Linkage—challenges multidisciplinary graduate and undergraduate teams to design and build a planetary rover and demonstrate its ability to perform tasks in the Rock Yard, an environment that simulates the rough terrain of the moon and Mars. Continue reading “CSULB Engineering Team Competing in Rover Contest Again”

Christopher Hernandez, Chief Technology Officer of Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems

Christopher Hernandez

Alumni Spotlight

By Todd Howard

When College of Engineering alumnus Christopher Hernandez began his internship at Rockwell International 36 years ago, he was still a high school student at St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower. Though only a teenager, he already understood that aerospace technology would be making increasingly significant contributions to civilization in the coming decades, and that he wanted to be involved with making them happen. Little did he realize just how substantial aerospace’s contributions would be, however, or how integral his role would be in bringing them to pass.

During his 36-year career, Hernandez has held key leadership positions in numerous high-stakes, cutting-edge aerospace projects, such as NASA’s Space Shuttle, and the US Air Force’s B2 Stealth Bomber. As chief engineer of the Stealth Bomber program, for example, he oversaw the aircraft’s first combat mission, which took place during the Kosovo War.

“These were very tense times,” said Hernandez. “This was the very first time our engineering efforts were going to be put to a real-world test. We were either going to be successful or we were going to risk lives.”

As any aviation buff can tell you, the B2 Stealth Bomber’s combat debut went down in history as a phenomenal success. The aircraft performed as designed on numerous 30-plus hour missions from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to the war zone and back, and contributed significantly to the end of that conflict.

Hernandez would then go on to advance a very different kind of aviation technology by serving as head of Northrop Grumman’s Unmanned Systems program for three years. In this position, he was tasked with meeting the U.S. Department of Defense’s exponentially increasing need for unmanned aircraft systems to perform a range of crucial functions.

“In those days, we had seven unmanned systems in engineering development, and we were hiring people and expanding our facilities as fast as we could to keep up with the demand.” said Hernandez. “Though the technical challenges of those efforts were plentiful, the energy that came with meeting them made for exciting times.”

Today, Hernandez serves as chief technology officer for Northrop Grumman’s Aerospace Systems, and is responsible for advancing new key technologies for all of the company’s air and space programs. This requires him to effectively integrate the efforts of nearly twenty-five thousand employees in a range of divisions within the company, as well as those of several major suppliers and partnering universities.

Hernandez is also extremely active in the community, serving as vice chair of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Engineering at CSULB, as a member of the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation, as chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association’s Technical Operations Council, and as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America. Though he has helped to realize some of the most ambitious achievements in aerospace history, it is his philanthropic and volunteer work that he finds the most significant. “While my career has been very rewarding, nothing compares with the feeling I get from giving back to the community,” said Hernandez.

Aerospace Engineering Student David Murakami to attend NASA Academy

David Murakami

David Murakami, CSULB President Scholar with majors in aerospace engineering and physics and minors in mathematics and computer science will be participating in the NASA Academy at Ames for Space Exploration in the summer. “The NASA Academy program is committed to providing a strong technical foundation through which leadership potential can develop among an academically strong and diverse student population.” The program provides students with cutting-edge research opportunities within NASA while also providing opportunities for leadership development, teamwork, and relationship building. His research will be conducted within the Lunar Science Institute.

Details about the academy can be found at NASA Academy at Ames

AE Student David Stout Selected for the NASA Undergraduate Student Research Program

From the beginning of January to the end of April 2008 Aerospace Engineering major David A. Stout embarked on a journey of a lifetime. He was accepted to the NASA Undergraduate Student Research Program (USRP) at Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia-the only NASA owned and operated launch facility. First, he was able to run thermal-Vac testing on many future NASA parts. While there he also was able to fabricate and machine Bombay doors and luggage carriers for NASA’s P-3 aircraft that flies to the arctic on a frequent basis. Next he was able to formulate the logistics for the CREAM 4 balloon launch that will occur at the end of 2008. Afterwards he cultured and helped with the thermal blankets that are going on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Satellite that is scheduled for launch in the beginning of next year. “It was awesome that they [NASA] flew me on their private aircraft to Goddard Space Facility to help and see that endeavor put into practice.”

His greatest achievement and most time consuming task was to design and help fabricate a Cubesat-class Satellite that will launch in September 2008 on a Montour rocket with the Air Force’s TacSat III Mission. He worked with the Senior Engineer ever day coming up with ideas, making CDR and IDR presentations to the general group, and testing all parts to see that the whole satellite will function properly. “It was totally hard, but very rewarding.” “I was there for the whole process—beginning to end, and they treated me like the project manager.” In September NASA and Hawk Institute for Space Sciences will fly David to Wallops to see his satellite launch off. “I am so stoked and cannot wait.”