April 20, 1999
QuestChat with Rich Coppenbarger
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- 13 - 09:27:51 ]
And now, here is Rich Coppenbarger to answer your questions.
- 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
- 16 - 09:32:33 ]
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
- 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?
- 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.
- 26 - 09:40:25 ]
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.
- 27 - 09:41:29 ]
RE: [Hannah-Hannah/NHHomeschooler] Can you
tell me a little about what you do to influence the way airplanes are
One thing that I do to influence the building of planes is to test out
new design concepts in the simulator, with real pilots.
- 28 - 09:42:23 ]
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.
- 30 - 09:43:36 ]
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.
- 33 - 09:45:13 ]
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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++"
- 47 - 10:01:56 ]
As a reminder, be sure to share your thoughts with us about today's chat
- 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.
- 50 - 10:04:53 ]
RE: [Caleb4thgrade] Do you have any
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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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"
- 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.
- 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.
- 69 - 10:30:08 ]
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.
- 70 - 10:31:48 ]
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.
- 75 - 10:33:05 ]
RE: [MSOC] Thank you very much Rich
for your time and for such great answers.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 80 - 10:37:49 ]
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!