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Meet: Narottam Bansal

Senior Materials Research Scientist,
Lewis Research Center

Chat Archives

Who I Am
We do research on the development of advanced materials which are strong and tough which could be used at higher and higher temperatures in an oxidizing atmosphere.

We work on ceramic materials. Other people work on polymeric and metallic materials. For several years my research has been on ceramic composites. We take continuous ceramic fiber and put it into a ceramic matrix which becomes a composite. We use commercial fibers like silicon carbide ceramic fibers. We fabricate the composite here, and then we test it at high temperatures for strength and for the life of the material.

My Career Path
As a child I was always interested in how things work. I took a lot of courses in science and math. I got my Bachelors of Science degree from Government Degree College in Narnalu, Haryana India. I did my Masters of Science in Chemistry at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Pilani, Rajasthan. Then I went to the University of Delhi for my Ph.D. degree in high temperature chemistry. I taught at the University for four years.

I took a postdoctoral assignment at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. There I conducted research on electroanalytical chemistry for two years. Then I came to the United States for a year to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, New York. I was working with sodium sulphur batteries.

Since I was on a leave of absence from my job at the University of Delhi, I returned to my job there in India. I taught there for another three years, and then I returned to the United States again, to Rensselaer, but this time to the material engineering department. I worked on glasses for fiber optic applications. These were heavy metal fluoride glasses. Most glasses are silicate glasses, but these were fluoride for fiber optic applications. This material is 10-100 times better than silicate glass. Right now they use silica based for fiber optic applications. This research lasted for three and a half years, and then I came to NASA Lewis in 1985. I have recently been working, in collaboration with engine companies, on the development of an environmental barrier coating material for the engine of the High Speed Civil Transport.

I am active in the American Ceramic Society, organizing international symposia. I have written three books, 150 articles, and I have four patents. I have also edited six symposium proceedings. Last year, I was inducted as a fellow of the American Ceramic Society. This August, I was awarded NASA's medal for exceptional scientific achievements.

Why I like my Job
I get to do different things on different days. It's very exciting. Then if you have a new idea you have the opportunity to test it. I get to work with a lot of people as a team. I get to go to conferences and travel to different parts of the world.

As a Child
I was very inspired by the launch of Sputnik. I really wanted to pursue a technical career.

If someone is interested in a research career like mine they need to take a lot of math and science classes. Then he or she needs to follow their dreams.

Early Influences
My mother, who was not well educated, urged me to get the best education I could and to follow my dreams. I was the first person in my family to get a college degree.

Future Goals
I plan to continue my research at NASA in the future.

I have been married for 25 years to a wonderful lady, Shashi. She has a masters degree in mathematics. She taught high school students in India and has stayed home to take care of our two sons. The eldest is Gaurav. He graduated last year with a BS degree in electrical engineering from Case Western Reserve University. Now he works for a telecommunications company in Dallas, TX and is pursuing a Masters degree part time. My second son, Saurabh, is a sophomore at Case Western Reserve University, and he is studying Chemical Engineering. He wants to earn a Masters in biochemical engineering or go to medical school.

Learn More From My Chats


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