Archive for September 2020

Sean Wilson – Northrop Grumman Space Systems

September 30, 2020 @ 9:08 am

In this episode:


We meet Sean Wilson, Director of Media and Public Relations at Northrop Grumman Space Systems. Starting her career as an enlisted Satellite Systems Operator for the U.S. Air Force, Sean has since held a number of different roles in space communications, including stints as a Communications Analyst and Astronaut Instructor at Futron Corporation, a Public Relations Specialist at NASA Johnson Space Center, and Director of Corporate Communications at Orbital ATK. In her current role at Northrop Grumman Space Systems, she’s a big part of shaping the company’s messaging and strategies for communicating to the public, company shareholders, and media.


In our conversation, Wilson discusses how her career path led her to specialize in communications, the time she spent as an astronaut instructor, her approach to simplifying industry jargon into consumable communications, how her team coaches high-level executives to speak to the public, and the components of communications plans for launches and missions. She also explains how the role of social media has evolved in the PR arena, the most emotionally taxing events she has had to field as a professional communicator, and the children’s book she authored.


In describing how she got her earlier job with NASA, Sean says, “I spammed, faxed, and snail-mailed, and barraged every contractor within the greater Houston area that had anything remotely to do with NASA, and I think I finally broke one down and they said, ‘Please, if you’ll stop emailing us, we’ll hire you!’”


To learn more about Northrop Grumman, visit


Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom © copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. Ft: Miss Judged

Filed under aerospace, Space Foundation, Space4U · Comments

Robert Gregg & Toby Elery — Robotic Prosthesis Built with ISS Motors

September 23, 2020 @ 8:17 am

In this episode:


We meet Drs. Robert Gregg and Toby Elery, who are part of a team that has designed an improved robotic prosthesis, produced using a motor originally designed for use on the International Space Station (ISS).


Dr. Gregg is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Robotics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and computer sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, and then subsequent masters and doctoral degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined the University of Michigan as an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and the Robotics Institute, in fall 2019.


Dr. Elery is a mechanical engineer and researcher based in Dallas, Texas, who earned his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at Dallas in the spring of 2020. Up until April of this year, and for nearly six years prior, he was a PhD Graduate Research Assistant at the university. He's worked on a host of robotics projects, has served as a mentor for undergraduate projects, and has also disseminated his research in the field via several publications and presentations.


In this conversation, our guests discuss how the idea came about to produce a better robotic prosthesis, why a motor produced for the ISS was chosen for their design, how their prosthesis lessens the burden on wearers, which wearers will benefit from it the most, the testing that has been performed so far, and also explain how the force from the residual limb actually charges the battery while the prosthesis is in use.


Describing how an ISS motor was chosen for their design, Elery explains that it was among those with “the highest torque density, which means it can produce a lot of force in a very small package, which was really useful for our application. So, we were able to get a whole lot of torque — a whole lot of force out of it, in a really small volume.”


To learn more about the prosthesis designed by Drs. Gregg and Elery, visit


Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom © copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. Ft: Miss Judged

Filed under Space Foundation, Space4U, STEM Education, Space Technology, robotics · Comments

Rebekah Hyatt and Adlena Jacobs — SystemsGo

September 9, 2020 @ 8:38 am

In this episode:


We meet Rebekah Hyatt, a master educator who is Program Director for SystemsGo, an education nonprofit solely focused on providing STEM curriculum programs. Prior to joining SystemsGo, she taught high school for 15 years in the Dallas area, and during her last seven years in the classroom she taught the SystemsGo curriculum.


We also meet Adlena Jacobs, another master educator who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics and math, and a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration. She has been teaching for 12 years and is currently the STEM Coordinator at Sunnyvale High School in Sunnyvale, Texas. 


In this conversation, both guests express their passion for preparing the next generation to join the workforce. Rebekah talks about what inspired her to join SystemsGo, the overall mission of the program, and some of the benefits she has seen over the years. As a teacher who is new to the program, Adlena brings a fresh perspective to the training process, has a newcomer’s enthusiasm for bringing it to her students, and shares how she anticipates they will grow from the program. 


Both explain that failure is an important aspect of the program, as it leads to growth for the students. Says Rebekah, “We want to produce people that are equipped with skills to walk through the fear of the unknown. Because the fear of the unknown can be totally crippling to many people.”


Adlena herself admits that she had to struggle through her own failure during the teacher training but knows this only enhances her ability to relate to her students and guide them. She says, “Even though you’re failing, keep going — you will get there.”


To learn more about SystemsGo visit


Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. Ft: Miss Judged

Filed under Space Foundation, Space4U, STEM Education · Comments

Aaron Shepard – NASA Robotics Intern & Founder of Cogito

September 2, 2020 @ 8:34 am

In this episode:


We meet Aaron Shepard, an In Space Assembly Robotics Intern at NASA Langley, and a Robotics Research Assistant at Clemson University College of Engineering and Science. Aaron also works at R&D Engineering Co-Op, Itron, Inc., and is the Founder/CEO of Cogito, a company dedicated to inspiring young people through STEM outreach.


He is affiliated with the Mars Generation, an international nonprofit organization that works to excite people of all ages about science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and human space exploration, and is currently a member of the organization's Student Space Ambassador Leadership Board, where he serves as chair of the outreach committee. He works as a tutor and mentor for the PEER & WISE program at Clemson, which helps to give underrepresented students studying STEM subjects the resources and tools they need to follow their dreams of STEM and space, and he has also given a TEDx talk entitled Make America Space Again.


In this conversation Aaron talks about what inspired him to switch from his initial career path of medicine to robotics, gives details on how he got into his internship at NASA, shares his thoughts on the future of robots in space exploration, touches on his company Cogito, describes his favorite robot project that he’s currently working on, and explains how he thinks international cooperation will help achieve our goals in space.


In describing how robots will eventually build human habitats on other planets, Aaron says, “I’d say we’re within a 20-year range of having fully autonomous robot construction crew in space ... I think that’s possible.”


To learn more about Aaron’s new company Cogito, visit


Note: This episode refers to the successful July 30, 2020 launch of the Perseverance Mars Rover and Ingenuity helicopter in future tense because the podcast was recorded on July 23, 2020.


Introductory and closing music: Paint the Sky by Hans Atom (c) copyright 2015 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license. Ft: Miss Judged

Filed under Space, Space Foundation, Space4U, STEM Education, NASA, Space Technology, robotics · Comments

Loading Downloads



Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App