New program prepares UAH graduates to better meet needs of city’s aerospace industry

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An agreement to establish the Bastion Technical Fellows program was signed at a ceremony in the new Student Services Building on Monday, July 11, by Dr. Christine Curtis, UAH’s Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Jorge Hernandez, President of Bastion Technologies Inc.

Michael Mercier | UAH

With an eye toward better preparing graduates to meet the needs of the city's aerospace and defense employers, The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and Bastion Technologies Inc. have signed an agreement to establish the Bastion Technical Fellows (BTF) program. Beginning this fall, UAH graduate students selected for the program will serve as Bastion Technical Fellows, maintaining a residency at Bastion Technologies' facilities in Huntsville to gain industry domain specific knowledge while completing their coursework requirements and thesis research. Fellows will be expected to complete a thesis on a topic that is compatible with Bastion Technologies' work as the prime contractor for safety and mission assurance at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Jorge Hernandez, president of Bastion Technologies, originally approached Dr. L. Dale Thomas, a professor and eminent scholar in UAH's Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering & Engineering Management, with the possibility of establishing the BTF program at UAH. "Dr. Thomas was instrumental in the program's genesis at UAH, and we could not have accomplished this without him," says Hernandez. "The BTF program provides a new opportunity for Bastion Technologies to serve the national interest by developing the next generation of aerospace talent and strengthening its ties to the Huntsville community."

Dr. Thomas is equally enthusiastic about the partnership and the program's potential to benefit everyone involved. "Since arriving at UAH, I've been focused on making UAH's systems engineering program more relevant to the aerospace, defense, and biotechnology industries here in Huntsville, in keeping with our strategic plan priority to become a recognized leader in those fields," he says. "This program is a big step toward that goal. The Bastion Technical Fellows will be like any other graduate research assistants here at UAH, but they will spend their time at Bastion Technologies performing cutting-edge research that is of value to the local aerospace industry."

The BTF program provides a new opportunity for Bastion Technologies to serve the national interest by developing the next generation of aerospace talent and strengthening its ties to the Huntsville community.

Jorge Hernandez
President, Bastion Technologies

To be eligible for the program, students must be enrolled full time in a relevant UAH master's degree program. "Right now the focus is on systems engineering and engineering management majors, but in the future we plan to expand the program to other majors that are compatible with projects funded by Bastion Technologies," says Dr. Thomas. Once selected, fellows will be required to work at Bastion Technologies part time during the fall and spring semesters and full time during the summer. "They will be considered a UAH graduate research assistant working under the guidance of their UAH faculty advisor, but they'll also receive guidance from their Bastion Technologies' supervisor."

The program will then culminate with a thesis on a topic that is mutually agreed upon by UAH and Bastion Technologies and that furthers Bastion Technologies' mission of developing new technologies and solutions to problems of national interest. As the organization has a long history as a Small Disadvantaged Business with NASA and the aerospace industry, topics are likely to include engineering design and analysis, safety and reliability assurance services, IT solutions, and configuration management and expertise for the Space Launch System and other NASA projects.

Dr. Thomas' long-term hope is that the program will serve as a pipeline of intellectual talent for the city's federal and industrial employers. "The demand is there for skilled, highly trained system engineers, but until now, most organizations have had to grow them in-house with on-the-job training," he says. "Now, between this program and the new courses we're offering ­- such as a two-semester sequence on model-based engineering methods - our graduates will enter the local workforce with a distinct advantage over their peers from other universities."


Contact

Dr. David Berkowitz
UAH School of Graduate Studies
 256.824.6952
David.Berkowitz@UAH.edu

Gary Eldridge
Bastion Technologies Inc.
 256.544.8636
geldridge@bastiontechnologies.com

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