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UPDATE #28 - July 24, 1998

PART 1: Project Manager's Notes
PART 2: Sharing NASA Takes Flight with Summer Aerospace QuestChats!
PART 3: Pilots and Firefighters
PART 4: Subscribing & Unsubscribing: How to do it


~In the last Aero Update (27), Stephen Jaeger mentioned his father's
illness in his journal.  Several people wrote to hear how he was
doing, Stephen wrote to say:
 Thank you Everyone for the nice comments. Through determination
and German stubbornness, my father has beaten the odds and made
about a 90% recovery. His voice is slurred and he still has
some short-term memory problems but we are hoping he can get back to a
normal life.

~Development of the Wright Flyer Online Web site continues. A
recent addition was the biography of Pete Zell,
http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/wright/team/zell.html Pete will
be the Test Manager for the wind tunnel test of the AIAA 1903 Wright
Flyer model.  He recently appeared on Kid's Club at program produced by
KTEH, San Jose's PBS television station.  I don't know if it will be
rebroadcast in your local area but it might be worth a look at the

~Aero Design Team Online got a recent boost in the form of a grant
from the Department of Education.  The extra money will pay for the
following four features that we think teachers will find useful.

* Age-appropriate lesson plans using data from a wind tunnel test
with the Wright Flyer

* Collaborative online activities in which students work together in
groups on aeronautics projects

* Specific suggestions to help teachers use student-to-NASA-expert
communications within various curriculum

* Moderation of discuss@quest to improve the quality of our
teacher-to-teacher discussion list

The results of these efforts should be visible by the end of the summer.


Wondering how to spice up your summer? Looking for a way to beat the heat?
Quest is running a series of COOL chats this summer. Oran Cox the
QuestChat guru, will host these chats with experts from different Quest
Sharing NASA Projects who share an involvement in space transportation
including alternative space vehicles, and developing spacecraft that allow
humans to travel further into space. Aprille Ericsson, from the Women of
NASA project, and Grant Palmer, from the Aero Design Team Online project,
and Andrew Petro from the Space Team Online project to discuss their
involvement in spacecraft design. They are just three of the many NASA
scientists, engineers, and researchers involved in this important work.

Tuesday, August 4, 11:30 a.m. Pacific: Aprille Ericsson, aerospace

In order to understand how spacecraft may behave during flight, April
conducts simulations on spacecraft designs. The simulations allow her to
determine if any changes should be made to the construction and design of
spacecraft, and how the propulsion systems will function. She also teaches
engineering design and professional engineering courses at Bowie State
University in Bowie, Maryland. Read Aprille's autobiography before to
joining this chat. 
Registration for this chat will begin on July 21.

Tuesday, August 11, 9:30 a.m. Pacific: Grant Palmer, computational fluid
dynamics engineer

When a spacecraft such as the space shuttle returns to Earth from space,
the friction caused by the air rushing past the surface of a vehicle
causes it to heat up. Grant writes computer programs that predict how hot
the vehicle surface will get. Grant's work is part of a larger process
called computational fluid dynamics (CFD). His work is important because
without CFD, spacecraft designers would have to guess how hot a vehicle
would get. If their guesses are wrong, a vehicle would either be heavier
than it had to be or get damaged when it returned to Earth.
Read Grant's autobiography before joining this chat.
Registration for this chat will begin on July 28.

Wednesday, August 12, 9:00 AM Pacific: Andy Petro, spacecraft design
engineer Andy is part of a team involved with planning future
projects and designing spacecraft for returning to the moon and going on
to Mars. He explains that"designing spacecraft means that we do a lot of
'brainstorming' to come up with new ideas." But his team also works on
improvements to space shuttles and designs for launchers, which will
eventually replace the shuttles. Much of their work also consists of
working through many calculations and making drawings and models of
spacecraft designs.
Read Andy's autobiography before joining this chat.
Registration for this chat 

[Editor's Note: Eric Villeda is an Aerospace Systems Safety Research Assistant, Ames Research Center. He belongs to the Aeronautical Crew Decision Making group. The main focus of his group is to study how flight crews interact and make decisions. Read his bio at http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/aero/team/villeda.html ]


by Eric Villeda

June 10, 1998

Yesterday we had visitors from the United Kingdom.
Patrick Tissington is a student at the Fire Service
College and Mark Smitherman works with the British
Fire Service. They came to talk to us about some
decision making and crew resource management skills
that they might be able to transfer from our research
to their fire-fighting methods.

Some of the things that we talked about were decision
strategies. What are the best ways to make decisions
when dealing with such a large group if the situation is
changing rapidly with the fire?

Another subject we spoke about was situation awareness:
how can you tell when you have different groups
of fire fighters if everyone isn't aware of what is
going on? This is very hard to do because some fire
fighters might be on a different side of the building,
and you don't know if they are in the building.
Meanwhile, you are trying to get the fire under control.

One of the parts of my research that we talked about
was how planning might help them organize as a team to
fight fires and what kind of techniques that they could
use to maintain situation awareness. Its difficult to stay
in touch with one another and coordinate. They have
radios, but once they enter a building the radio transmissions
don't really work very well. A typical scenario is one team is
fighting a fire and they need help. Other groups of fire
fighters will arrive, have to be briefed on the situation,
and then they have to try and coordinate with the people who
are already there. Its difficult to tell them
exactly what you want them to do when they get there.

Similar situations that pilots could be in, which we have
researched, are in-flight emergencies and mechanical
problems with the airplane. The pilots have to diagnose the
problem, which can be kind of difficult. If they know the
problem they may not know the solution. Like front-line
firefighters, their only way to communicate with other
people is over the radio. For example, they can call maintenance
control to try to solve the problem.

Studying flight crews is different from studying
firefighters because communication in the cockpit is
between a small number of people (maybe only two or
three), but with a large fire you can have many
people running around doing different things. One
thing we shared about communication is verbalizing
your actions or intentions to other team members.
For example, a flight crew may be put in a holding
pattern and one crewmember may say why don't I put the
flaps out so the turn radius will be a bit closer. This
helps the other crewmember know what you are planning to do
and why. This gives a shared mental model to make sure you
are on the same page. Those kinds of communications are
very effective - especially in situations where you are
not familiar with the person you are working with.


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