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October 20, 1998
QuestChat with Russ Claus

Aerospace Engineer
NASA Lewis Research Center, Cleveland, OH



[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 2 - 09:24:20 ]
Hello to our early arriving Aerospace Team Online chat participants! Today's Aerospace Team Online chat with Russ Claus from NASA Lewis Research Center will begin at 9:30 a.m., Pacific Time. Be sure you have read Russ' autobiography at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/claus.html before joining this chat.

[ Deb - 3 - 09:26:06 ]
Hello! Ypsilanti COPE is standing by ready to participate in this chat.

[ MrsMock - 4 - 09:26:06 ]
Good morning. My students have an assembly this morn, so we will be participating in spurts.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 5 - 09:26:44 ]
Good morning Ypsilanti and Mrs. Mock. We will begin our chat in aapproximately 5 minutes. Please stay with us.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 6 - 09:28:58 ]
At the conclusion of today's chat, we ask that you let us know what you thought about it. Please use our online feedback forms at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys to share your thoughts with us.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 7 - 09:30:43 ]
Today's chat will be moderated in the event we receive too many questions for Russ to keep up with. This means only a few questions will be posted to the chat rom at at time. Don't worry if your questions do not appear on the screen immediately. They will be posted as Russ answers those ahead of you.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 9 - 09:31:44 ]
Hello and welcome to today's ADTO chat with Russ Claus from NASA Lewis Research Center. Russ researches how to design gas turbine engines more efficiently. A gas turbine engine (like those on commercial jets) can require up to 7 years to design and test. This means that it can take a long time to design a new aircraft. The 7-year design and test time means that new technologies that increase travel speed or reduce emissions will not be available for many years. Russ is exploring new computer technologies, such as neural networks and genetic algorithms, that can reduce this design time.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 10 - 09:31:59 ]
And now, here is Russ Claus to answer your questions.

[ DebandDane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE - 11 - 09:33:56 ]
We would like to thank Russ Claus for agreeing to take this time to talk with us. Can you tell us how your current project will reduce the time involved in the design and testing of gas turbine engines?

[ Russ - 14 - 09:36:53 ]
That's a good question and there are many aspects to the answer. The short answer is that we try to remove the manual translations that occurr in the design process. In other words, we try to automate the transfer of design information between memebers of the design team.

[ Yash-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona - 13 - 09:36:22 ]
What qualifications do you need to get your job?

[ Russ - 19 - 09:41:40 ]
The qualificants for my job are: 1. 4 year engineering degree 2. curiosity PS ability to spell is not one of the qualifications.

[ Russ - 16 - 09:38:17 ]
RE: [Jeff-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] Do you like your job?
I love my job. I can't believe they pay me to do this work. I am constantly intellectually challenged to learn new things and think of old things in new ways.

[ Russ - 18 - 09:40:06 ]
RE: [Adam-Mrs.Mock/MontessoriSchoolofCorona] What is a gas turbine engine?
A gas turbine engine is what powers a commerical jet. Something like a Boeing 737. It sucks in air, burns fuel and produces thrust that propells the aircraft throught the air.

[ Russ - 20 - 09:43:16 ]
RE: [Dane-Mrs.Regal/YpsilantiCOPE] What is the biggest engine you have ever helped design since you have been at NASA?
Some members of my design team have worked with Pratt and Whitney in their new engine for the Boeing 777. It produces about 90,000 pounds of thrust and you can walk into the inlet.

[ Russ - 24 - 09:50:49 ]
RE: [Deb] How do you study a problem in your job? Can you walk us through what you say to yourself in your head when you encounter a new and unsolved challenge?
That's a tough question, because there is no one single answer. Most of the time I'm working on a big problem that requires 1-4 years to solve. Along the way, there are several small problems that need to be solved. I usuall am working on both long term and short term problems. The answer to a short term problem may occur to me, while I'm skiing or something similar. But much of the time I'll start by reading the recent technical papers in the field. ---Find out what other researchers are trying. Then, I'll call or visit other engineers to explore various options. Frequently, I'll spend a large amount of time (months) to study a problem before trying to solve it. I hope this explaination helps!?

[ Russ - 25 - 09:53:54 ]
RE: [Dane] Have you ever seen a gas turbine engine blow up? Does your work study safety or malfunctions?
I personally haven't seen an engine blow-up, but several of my co-workers have pushed engines to the extreme and had them blow-up. This was done on purpose. We normally don't like to have engines blow-up. The biggest safety issue is usually bad parts (or materials). Some of my co-workers are exploring these issues.

[ Russ - 28 - 10:00:12 ]
RE: [Deb] How much and what kind of contact do you have with other members of the aircraft and engine design teams? How do you communicate?
This morning I had a 4 hour meeting with some designers from private industry. We frequently communicate via telecons (approx. 1 every 2 weeks), face-to-face meetings (once every 2 months), and constant telephone calls on a daily basis. These are technical "brain-storming" meetings and calls. They can last 5 minutes or 5 days.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 29 - 10:02:34 ]
As a reminder, please provide feedback to us about today's chat, at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys. Those of you observing today's chat may also use our feedback surveys.

[ Russ - 30 - 10:02:43 ]
RE: [Dane] What kinds of materials are used in gas turbine engines? How heavy are they?
The material are usually high-temperature alloys. They are pretty expensive. A great deal of research is being spend of the use of ceramics and composite materials (carbon fibers).

[ Russ - 31 - 10:04:56 ]
RE: [Dane] What kinds of materials are used in gas turbine engines? How heavy are they?
I forgot your question on weight. The composites and very light and inexpensive, but they aren't ready for commerical use. The high-temperature alloys are very heavy and expensive.

[ Russ - 36 - 10:13:58 ]
RE: [Deb] What has been the high point of your career? The low point?
The high point of my career. That's a tough one. It is probably when I worked with a personal friend in industry to help solve one of their difficult design problems. They were having a reall problem with a new combustor and some of the design tools we worked with helped to solve the problem. The low point is when a promising new concept such a hypersonic propulsion system lost the National driver (funding) to bring the project to completion.

[ Russ - 37 - 10:16:45 ]
RE: [Sarabeth/Briones] What do you think will be the power source for space flights in the future?
The key problem is to get to low Earth orbit. From there, a small engine can get you almost anywhere. Someday, I think hypersonic propulsion will routinely rocket people into Low Earth Orbit. From there, perhaps Ion propulsion, nuclear or who knowns warp drive?

[ Russ - 44 - 10:27:33 ]
RE: [DebandDane] Since it is almost time to close, we would like to thank you. Can you please tell us what you see the future of your field looking like by the time you retire?
I see a future where we (everyone) is free from mundane and boring tasks (for example, transfering design data from one person or analysis to another). We will then be free to explore wilder ideas and concepts. How many new ideas for a quatum warp drive are not generated because someone has to do a more mundane task? I think and hope that computer technology will move us closer to that ideal. By the time I retire, new engines will be detail-designed by the computer, freeing designers to be more creative and invent new concepts.

[ Russ - 45 - 10:31:39 ]
RE: [Dane] How would you advise someone who is now in middle school to prepare to get a job with NASA in the future?
Most new employees at NASA are engineers. Engineering requires a focus on science and math. If you enjoy those fields, look at colleges where NASA traditionally hires people. I was an engineering Co-op at the University of Cincinnati. If you are not interested in engineering, you can still find a job at NASA, but there are fewer opportunities.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 46 - 10:34:27 ]
If you're leaving, please help us out by filling out the feedback forms at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/qchats/qchat-surveys.

[ Russ - 48 - 10:35:35 ]
RE: [Martin] Why do you use gas turbine engines in commercial jets?
Gas turbine engines provide a good compromise between fuel consumption, propulsion system size, and speed. For example, you could use a gas IC engine with a propellor, but you would travel very slowly. You could use a rocket to travel rapidly, but it consumes too much fuel. You could use a nuclear reactor, but they are too heavy.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 49 - 10:36:16 ]
RE: [Adam] Thank you from all of us for answering our questions from M.S.O.C.!!!!!!!
Thank you for the good questions coming from the Montessori School of Corona! See you next time.

[ Russ - 51 - 10:36:57 ]
RE: [Adam] Thank you from all of us for answering our questions from M.S.O.C.!!!!!!!
My pleasure.

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 52 - 10:37:23 ]
RE: [DebandDane] Thank you. Good luck with your project! Bye.
Goodbye and thanks for your questions!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 53 - 10:39:04 ]
It looks like this just about wraps up this chat. A special thanks to Russ Claus for sharing his time and expertise with us online today!

[ Oran/NASAChatHost - 54 - 10:39:22 ]
Please join us for our next ADTO chat on October 28 with Roxana Greenman from NASA Ames Research Center. Check the ADTO chat schedule page at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/chats for more information.

 
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