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April 20, 1999
QuestChat with Rich Coppenbarger

Aerospace Engineer
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 4 - 08:59:31 ]
Hello to our early arriving chat participants! Today's Aerospace Team Online chat with Rich Coppenbarger from NASA Ames Research Center will begin at 9:30 a.m., Pacific Daylight Time. Be sure you have read Rich's profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/coppenbarger.html before joining this chat.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 5 - 08:59:47 ]
Once the chat begins, Rich will attempt to answer as many of your questions as quickly as he can, but PLEASE be patient. Today's chat may be MODERATED to help Rich keep up with our questions. This means that only a few questions would be posted to the chat room at a time. Don't worry if your questions do not appear on your screen immediately during moderation. They will be held in our chat queue and posted as Rich answers those ahead of you.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 6 - 09:00:08 ]
Remember to enter "Your Handle" in the box provided before posting messages to the chat room. Once you've done this, please let us know that you have logged on for today's chat.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 7 - 09:00:24 ]
At the conclusion of today's chat, we ask that you take a few minutes to let us know what you thought about it. For your convenience, you may use our online feedback forms at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. We look forward to hearing from you!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 10 - 09:22:00 ]
Mrs. Mock. Welcome, welcome, welcome! Glad to have you with us once again! We'll begin today's chat shortly, and I know your students should have plenty of questions for Rich Coppenbarger. Please stay tuned!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 11 - 09:27:34 ]
Hello and welcome to today's Aerospace Team Online chat with Rich Coppenbarger from NASA Ames Research Center. Rich develops hardware and software systems to help air traffic controllers manage aircraft as they fly throughout the nation's skies. One of the software programs he is developing is called the CTAS, which helps air traffic move smoothly and without delays. The CTAS is part of the Advanced Air Transportation Technology (AATT) program, which is designed to help our nation's air transportation system function better and more safely, even with more aircraft flying in our skies.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 13 - 09:27:51 ]
And now, here is Rich Coppenbarger to answer your questions.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 14 - 09:29:35 ]
RE: [Hannah] Hi, do you do anything else besides design airplanes,like have you ever designed a spacecraft?
Good Morning. Hannah, yes designing space craft is part of the course they teach in school to become an Aerosapce engineer. I currently only design airplanes, though

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 16 - 09:32:33 ]
RE: [MrsMock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Goodmorning Rich, When was your bio written and what is the status of the current software (i.e., when is expected to be completed)?
Hi there Mrs. Mock. The bio was written about three months ago. Currently we are in the "Concept Definition" phase of writing the software. Our program to overhaul the air traffic control system goes out to 2004

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 17 - 09:36:04 ]
Rich, while we're waiting for more questions, perhaps you could share with us some of the goals you've set for yourself in your life? Have you already achieved many of them?

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 20 - 09:38:49 ]
Actually, although I believe I have met many of my goals in life, there are of course still many left to reach. One of major goals as a child was to one day work for NASA. When I was very young, I saw pictures of men walking on the moon with NASA badges on - I knew at that point that I wanted something to do with aerospace.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 26 - 09:40:25 ]
RE: [Jennifer/3rd-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] What does VHF mean?
Jennifer, VHF stands for "Very High Frequency" and refers to a type of radio transmission. You can use VHF to listen to music or transmit data.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 27 - 09:41:29 ]
RE: [Hannah-Hannah/NHHomeschooler] Can you tell me a little about what you do to influence the way airplanes are built?
One thing that I do to influence the building of planes is to test out new design concepts in the simulator, with real pilots.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 28 - 09:42:23 ]
RE: [Andrea/3rd-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] How long does it take to write a program?
It really depends on the length of the program you are writing. Complicated projects may require years of computer programming to fully develp.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 30 - 09:43:36 ]
RE: [Melissa/4th-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] What kind of software have you designed? Have you ever done video games?
Melissa, When I was in college I played around with designing some simple video games. But most of what I design now is related to simulating airplanes.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 33 - 09:45:13 ]
RE: [Heather/3rd-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Is it fun working there?
Heather, Yes it is very fun to work for NASA. There is always something new happening around here. It is also a very fun social environment at times, with lots of extracurricular activities.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 34 - 09:46:53 ]
RE: [Hannah] Do you design any thing else besides airplanes?
Hannah, my specialty is the controls which make the airplane fly. What I really like designing are the instruments that the pilot uses to fly the plane.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 35 - 09:47:57 ]
RE: [MrsMock] Do you get a requirements and/or spec document before you start or do you write those as you go? Had to ask! :-) Shift change here - 4th grade group coming in now.
Mrs Mock. Since we are a research agency, it is my job to define this spec. This is different from private industry which is concentrated on product development

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 38 - 09:51:27 ]
RE: [Hannah] As an example, what kind of instruments do you enjoy designing?
One thing that I am really interested is something called a "head-up display". This is an instrument that allows the pilot to get information without having to look down at an instrument panel. He/she just looks straight ahead and the instrument is right there on the cockpit window glass.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 40 - 09:53:11 ]
RE: [Randy4thgrade] What things did you do in college?
Randy, I studied a lot for sure. Engineering can be very challenging with lots of math and science. I also made sure that I had time for other things as well - like playing sports and partying with my college buddies.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 42 - 09:54:32 ]
RE: [Kimber4thgrade] What did you like most in 4th grade?
Kimber, what I liked was the science courses that were beginning to be offered around that grade. This is when I really became interested in science and started to figure out how the world really works - before that I was lost and confused.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 43 - 09:56:14 ]
RE: [Lauren4thgrade] How many classes did it take you to get to your position?
Lauren, I think I have to count all my classes - from kindergarten to graduate school university. They all build on each other. In college alone I must have taken about 50 or 60 courses.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 45 - 09:58:31 ]
RE: [Ronica4thgrade] What language will the program be programmed in?
Ronica, the program is currently being programmed in "C" language although we are translating some pieces to "C++"

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 47 - 10:01:56 ]
As a reminder, be sure to share your thoughts with us about today's chat at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 48 - 10:02:11 ]
RE: [Brian4thgrade] What sports did you play in college
Brian, Although I never played any official sports, i.e NCAA, I played basketball, rugby, and ultimate frisbee with my college friends.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 50 - 10:04:53 ]
RE: [Caleb4thgrade] Do you have any partners?
Caleb, Do you mean partners at work? If so, I do have a person that I share an office with. We also share ideas on how to solve engineering problems from time to time.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 53 - 10:07:37 ]
RE: [Caleb4thgrade] How long have you been interested in space?
Caleb, I have been interested in space since I was in Kindergarten and saw some of the last moon landings on TV.

[ MrsMock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona - 54 - 10:09:09 ]
Shift change again - 5th graders on their way! If possible can you explain the steps involved in a large computer project? (i.e., requirements, writing a spec, coding, testing etc. etc.)

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 57 - 10:15:29 ]
RE: [RichCoppenbarger/ARC] Mrs Mock. Good morning to your 5th graders. The steps in a writing a computer program begin with defining the requirements of the problem you are solving - this means asking the eventual users of the software what features they would like to see. The code is then developed, and then tested against the original requirements. Usually this an iterative process or coding and debugging.
At NASA pilots or air traffic controllers are the customers for which we write code. We get them involved from the very beginning. Our basic philosophy is "Write a little, Test a lot"

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 59 - 10:19:42 ]
RE: [Oran/NASAChatHost] Rich, what are some of your more memorable experiences, positive or negative, in your career with NASA?
One of the most positive experiences was writing my first research paper and winning the NASA Ames award for "best first paper by a new engineer." This was the first time I was "published" in a technical journal. I haven't had too many negative experiences, although I travel a lot and sometimes get stuck in a very cramped seat on an airplane. Since I am tall, travelling for work can sometimes be uncomfortable but I always make the most of it while I am there. I have been all over the USA travelling with NASA - it can be very exciting.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 68 - 10:28:06 ]
Overall, I would just like to encourage as many young people as possible to explore classes and careers in aerospace. There will be all kinds of new discoveries in the next century and opportunities to travel further from earth than anybody has ever dreamed up to now. We may put colonies on the moon or Mars and travel to exotic planets like Jupiter or Saturn. Who knows, you could be on board as a 21st century astronaut if you study hard and take an interest in aerospace technology.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 69 - 10:30:08 ]
RE: [Martin/5thGrade-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Did you ever want to be an air traffic controller yourself?
Martin, No I never really wanted to an air traffic controller myself - it is very stressful and hard. I prefer to develop the technology which make their job easier.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 70 - 10:31:48 ]
RE: [Jason5thgradeMSOC-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Good morning, have you ever designed system for the Gulf War?
Jason. Sort of, we designed systems for attack helicopters to help guide them to their destination under poor visibility conditions. This technology was intended for future battles similar to the gulf was where helicopters are often blinded by sand storms etc.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 75 - 10:33:05 ]
RE: [MSOC] Thank you very much Rich for your time and for such great answers.
Thank you.

[ RichCoppenbarger/ARC - 76 - 10:34:46 ]
RE: [Adam/5th] Have your systems ever had any defects?
Adam, of course our systems have defects from time to time although we do our best to avoid as many as possible.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 77 - 10:35:06 ]
We will now be ending our chat Rich Coppenbarger. We would like to thank everyone for joining us today. Our very special thanks to Rich for his thoughtful responses to our questions, and for sharing his career experience and expertise with us.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 78 - 10:35:29 ]
We hope you can join us for our next Aerospace Team Online chat on Tuesday, April 27, with Ray Oyung from NASA Ames Research Center. Be sure to read Ray's profile at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/ray.html in order to prepare your questions. Check the Aero Design Online chat schedule page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats to learn more about this chat. Also check our schedule of events page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/common/events to learn about other upcoming chats with NASA experts.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 80 - 10:37:49 ]
RE: [MrsMock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] These boys are chanting: please stay on, please stay on ,... They really enjoyed this chat! :-)
We're glad everyone the chat today, Mrs. Mock. We hope to bring Rich Coppenbarger online again in the future. Chat with you and your students again soon!


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