UAHuntsville a StormReady University

The University of Alabama in Huntsville has earned the status of a StormReady University by the National Weather Service. UAHuntsville is one of only five universities in the state and one of 95 in the nation to gain this notification. 

Pictured, from left to right, are: Dave Nadler, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service; Kevin Bennett, Emergency Management Coordinator, UAH; Ray Pinner, Vice President for Finance and Administration; Rex Reynolds, City Administrator, City of Huntsville and Michael Snellgrove, UAH’s Chief of Police.

UAHuntsville celebrates Homecoming 2011

homecoming 2011HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (September 29, 2011) - "ChargerFest 2011," is the theme for homecoming week Oct. 10-15 at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville).
A variety of events have been planned throughout the week for students, alumni, and the UAHuntsville community including a live performance by Comedy Central on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m., in Spragins Hall.


Chargers athletic program to see changes following budget analysis

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (October 24, 2011) - Increasingly austere higher education budgets and disproportionate funding among sports teams will result in changes to the athletic program at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The university has conducted an in-depth analysis of athletic operations and numerous recommendations have been suggested to strengthen the entire university athletic program.

"We're in an economic environment where universities must look at the value of every dollar we spend," said UAHuntsville President Malcolm Portera.

Dr. Portera said the operational review shows that UAHuntsville's total investment in athletics compares favorably with other Gulf South Conference schools, and is adequate to enable UAHuntsville student-athletes to compete at the Division II level.

"In assessing ways we can balance and strengthen our overall athletic program, we are reviewing a series of recommendations that include additional emphasis on compliance and student advising, realignment of the ice hockey program and a total evaluation of our athletic facilities," he said.

"This report recommends, and I concur, that Charger ice hockey will best be served by returning to its roots as a club team," Portera said. Ten of the 12 SEC teams have club hockey teams in addition to other traditional athletic powers in the southeastern United States, such as Georgia Tech, Clemson, Memphis and Florida State.

Hockey began as a club sport at UAHuntsville in 1979. Teams on the schedule in those days included Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Duke, Penn State, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, North Carolina and Illinois.

UAHuntsville's team won three national club championships in the first six years of the club's existence. The university's program was accepted into NCAA Division II in 1985 and won two national championships at that level before the NCAA disbanded Division II hockey in 1998.

According to budget figures, the Division I Charger hockey team's travel budget is more than all of the other men's sports combined; hockey's operations cost three times as much as all other men's sports combined, and hockey accounts for 40 percent of the total student aid budget for all men's sports.

Financial difficulties have forced other universities to make similar decisions in recent years. Tight budgets and the high overhead expenses precipitated Wayne State University's decision to drop its NCAA men's and women's ice hockey teams. Findlay University in Ohio also converted to a club sport. Meanwhile, other Division I collegiate programs are currently seeking ways to reduce and control athletic and hockey budgets.

"Charger ice hockey will remain a part of the culture of this university and the city," Portera said. "However, the opportunity to save the hockey program is much improved by reverting to its original model as a club team."

The cost savings will allow the university to enhance the operating budgets of the other 15 sports on campus and provide more student aid to a greater number of student-athletes. At the same time, the university will be in a better position to increase funding for high-demand academic programs at UAHuntsville.

"We also believe this provides tremendous opportunities for the up-and-coming young hockey players in North Alabama," Portera explained. "None of the players on our 24-man roster are from Alabama, but there is a very good possibility that will change by reverting the team into a club league."

Currently, 14 players on the squad are from Canada, two from Tennessee and one each from Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois, Georgia and Finland. Only three players from Alabama have been on the roster since the team went Division I in 1999.

Portera announced assistance would be provided to the student-athletes participating in the ice hockey program by continuing to honor the scholarship commitment made by the university. He said if the student-athlete chooses to transfer to another program, the university would provide help in making that relocation as seamless as possible.

Coaches will remain on the payroll through May 31, 2012. The university will assist them in their endeavors to seek future employment.


For more information, 
contact Ray Garner

UAHuntsville hosting Von Braun Memorial Symposium

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (October 24, 2011) - The campus of The University of Alabama in Huntsville will draw aerospace leaders from around the country this week for the fourth annual Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium.

"Launching the Future in Space Exploration" is the title of the symposium that begins today and goes through Wednesday. Most of the activity will take place in the Chan Auditorium of the Business Administration Building.

The symposium gets under way in earnest Tuesday morning at 8:30 with remarks by Frank Slazer, Aerospace Industries Association president, and Marshall Space Flight Center Director Robert Lightfoot. NASA Associate Administrator Chris Scolese will also report on developments from NASA headquarters at the opening session. 

Go to this link for a complete agenda

Dan Dumbacher, NASA's assistant associate administrator for human exploration capabilities, will examine the space agency's new exploration road map including the Space Launch System and Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle. He will also moderate a panel on industry's role in sustainable space exploration, which will include aerospace executives.

William Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, is the luncheon speaker at UAHuntsville's University Center. Afternoon panels focus on commercial space and integrating robotic and human exploration. Tuesday's discussions will cover military space initiatives, the new National Institute of Rocket Propulsion Systems and general space policy.

The Wernher von Braun Memorial Dinner will conclude the symposium on Wednesday evening at 7 o'clock in the Davidson Center at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. Bob Crippen, former astronaut and Kennedy Space Center director, will speak.

More information about the symposium is available online at

UAHuntsville Opera Theatre to present Menotti’s musical drama The Consul

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (October 12, 2011) - The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville)  Opera Theatre will present the musical drama The Consul by Gian-Carlo Menotti for three performances from October 26, 28 and 30 in the Wilson Hall Theatre at 7 p.m.

The opera production is being directed by David Harwell, assistant professor of communications at UAHuntsville and features special guest bass Eric Jordan in the role of John Sorel.

Opera companies nationwide have sought Jordan, a professional operatic performer, for his trademark "big bass and presence to match" (Opera News). His "powerful, nuanced singing and thoughtful acting" (The New York Times) add an especially sonorous quality to The Consul.

Set in a post-World War II communist country, The Consul tells the story of John and Magda Sorel. John, a political activist, has been arrested by the secret police. Magda seeks the only person she believes can help her- the Consul. However, Magda soon learns that an audience with the Consul is not easily gained, and time may run out for her family as the bureaucracy drags its feet.

"It's strikingly fluid music," Jordan said of the opera, for which Menotti won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Music and 1950 New York Drama Critics' Circle award for Best Musical.

"It's kind of eerie- there is a macabre touch to this opera that makes it perfect to perform before Halloween ," Jordan added. "If you think opera is boring, this one will prove that you're dead wrong!"

On the first dark night of The Consul , October 27 at 8 p.m., Jordan will host a benefit concert as The Opera Cowboy and the Mountain Band. The group, made up of Jordan on guitar, Mark "Mad Dog" Defeneugh on lap steel, and Scott "Scott Rock" Thornton on bass, will present Johnny Cash's entire At Folsom Prison album, as well as some extras. When asked to describe an evening with the band, Jordan said, "It's just a whole lot of fun!"

For information about tickets to the performance, please contact Donna Lamp, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m., at (256) 824-6871, or in Morton Hall 342 on the UAHuntsville campus. For information about The Consul and UAHuntsville Theatre, please visit


For more information 
Joyce Anderson-Maples 

UAHuntsville to host propulsion research workshop

Huntsville, Ala. (October 10, 2011) - The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) will host a propulsion research workshop on Friday, Oct. 14.

The workshop will be held at the university's Shelby Center for Science and Technology (room 301) from 8 a.m., to 5 p.m. Co-chairpersons for the workshop are Dr. Shankar Mahalingam, dean, of the College of Engineering, and Dr. Robert Frederick, Jr., interim director of the Propulsion Research Center. Mahalingam and Frederick also hold the rank of professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

The workshop stemmed from UAHuntsville's invitation to be on the planning team for the new NASA National Institute for Rocket Propulsion Systems (NIRPS). The university accepted the task to coordinate issue identification among the academic propulsion community across the nation and provide that information to the NASA planning team.

The propulsion workshop is the first step in the planning process. Select propulsion leaders from universities around the nation will gather to discuss: the state of industry, the state of the art in academia, and the future of the industry.

Workshop presenters include:


Dr. Robert Frederick, Jr.
Int. Dir. Propulsion Research Center
Professor MAE

Dr. Shankar Mahalingam
Dean. College of Engineering
Professor, MAE



Workshop Participants



Dr. Roy Hartsfield
Walt and Virginia Woltosz Professor of Aerospace Engineering
Auburn University

Georgia Tech


Alan W. Wilhite
Langley Professor of Aerospace Engineering
Co-Director, The Center For Aerospace Systems
Engineering, Modeling and Simulation
Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Tech


Prof. Mitchell Walker
Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology

Research Center


Dr. V. N. Smelyanskiy
Principal Research Scientist, Group Leader
NASA Ames Research Center

Purdue University


 Dr. William Anderson

Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Director of Global Engineering Program
Purdue University

University of Illinois


Dr. Mark Brandyberry
Senior Research Scientist
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Maryland


Dr. Kenneth Yu 
Associate Professor of Aerospace Engineering
University of Maryland

For more information and workshop registration, please contact co-chairpersons or

For more information 
Joyce Anderson Maples 

Space law expert to lecture at UAHuntsville

Huntsville, Ala. (October 6, 2011) - Joanne I. Gabrynowicz, director of the National Center for Remote Sensing, Air, and Space Law at the University of Mississippi School of Law will lecture at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) on Tuesday, Oct. 11.

Her visit is sponsored by the UAHuntsville Honors Forum Lecture series. The lecture will begin at 11:10 a.m., in Frank Franz Hall room 138, and is free and open to the public.

Gabrynowicz also serves as editor-in-chief, of the Journal of Space Law. She teaches space law and remote sensing law at The University of Mississippi (UM). She was a founding faculty member of the University of North Dakota Space Studies Department. Gabrynowicz is an official observer for the International Astronautical Federation to the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

UM offers the only dedicated aerospace law curriculum in the nation from an American Bar Association-accredited law school, and requires courses on U.S. space and aviation law, international space and aviation law, and remote sensing; participation in the publication of the Journal of Space Law; and independent research. The National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law was founded in 1999. The first space law certificate was awarded in spring 2008.

She also is a member of the Department of Commerce Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing. Gabrynowicz advised the Eisenhower Institute on its study, The Future of Space-the Next Strategic Frontier. She is also a member of the International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote sensing International Policy Advisory Committee.

Before beginning her academic career, she was the managing attorney of a law firm in New York City. She is a member of the American Bar Association, Forum on Aviation and Space Law, the New York State Bar, the International Institute of Space Law and Women in Aerospace, among other groups.

Gabrynowicz is the recipient of the 2001 Women in Aerospace Outstanding International Award. Additionally, she was awarded a NASA/American Society of Engineering Education Summer Faculty Fellowship from Goddard Space Flight Center, where she also served as the Dean of the NASA Space Academy.

She earned her undergraduate degree at Hunter College, and a J.D., at Yeshiva University Cardozo School of Law. 

For more information 
Joyce Anderson Maples 256.824.2101">

UAHuntsville to host 2011 LEAN Educator Conference

Huntsville, Ala. (September 26, 2011) - The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) Department of Industrial Systems Engineering and Engineering Management (ISEEM) will host the 2011/2012 LEAN Educator Conference Thursday, Sept. 29 through Saturday, Oct. 1.

The conference begins at 7 a.m., each morning in the Shelby Center for Science and Technology. Keynote speakers for the conference are John Y. Shook, chairman and CEO of Lean Institute; and John Toussaint, president of ThedaCare's Center for Healthcare Value. To register please visit

John ShookJohn Y. Shook 
CEO of Lean Institute

John Shook is recognized as a true sensei who enthusiastically shares his knowledge and insights within the Lean Community and with those who have not yet made the lean leap.

Shook learned about lean management while working for Toyota for nearly 11 years in Japan and the U.S., helping it transfer production, engineering, and management systems from Japan to NUMMI and subsequently to other operations around the world.

He is the author of Toyota's Secret: The A3 Report Sloan Management Review, and How to Change a Culture: Lessons from NUMMISloan Management Review. Shook is a sought-after conference keynoter who has been interviewed on lean management by National Public RadioBloomberg NewsThe Wall Street Journal, and numerous trade publications.

John ToussaintDr. John Toussaint
President ThedaCare's Center for Healthcare Value

Toussaint founder and president of ThedaCare's Center for Healthcare Value, Dr. John Toussaint, has the experience and passion as a driving force in creating healthcare value. From 2000-2008, Toussaint served as president and chief executive officer of ThedaCare, Inc., a community-owned, four-hospital health system including twenty-one physician clinics, as well as home health capabilities, senior care facilities, hospice care and behavioral health. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with nearly 5,400 employees, serving an eight-county region.

For more information on the 2011/2012 LEAN Educator Conference on the UAHuntsville campus, please visit the following websites:

For more information 
Joyce Anderson Maples 

Sigmatech provides $1M gift to UAHuntsville to create global understanding eminent scholar

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Sept. 16, 2011) -Sigmatech has provided a $1 million endowment for the establishment of an eminent scholar chair to the Department of Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts at The University of Alabama in Huntsville.

The Baba Budha Eminent Scholar Chair in Global Understanding, with specialization in Indian studies, is the first part of a dual-chair concept, originating at UAHuntsville. The second part is the Baba Deep Eminent Scholar chair in Global Understanding, with specialization in American Studies, to be established at Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, India.

The position was approved today by the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama during the group's meeting in Tuscaloosa.

"We are especially pleased with Dr. Sandhu's commitment to UAHuntsville to assist in enhancing global understanding," said Dr. Malcolm Portera, President of The University of Alabama in Huntsville and Chancellor of the University of Alabama System. "This gift provides more validation of the fact that we are an international community. The Eminent Scholar will be located in the College of Liberal Arts."

India, the world's largest democracy with1 billion people, is viewed as one of the three economic powers of the 21st century, the other two being the U.S. and China.

"The objective of this initiative is to educate students in a global business curriculum and ultimately to improve business, trade, and cultural relationships between the U.S. and India," Dr. Sandhu said.

Aside from Sigmatech's $1 million corporate contribution to the academic environment, the dual-chair concept also plays an academic ambassadorial role, which has special significance. The University of Alabama in Huntsville and Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar will benefit from two eminent scholars working together for future cooperation between their academic programs.

The City of Huntsville and the City of Amritsar will benefit from joint venture industrial programs. The State of Punjab is the agriculture state of the world's "green" revolution, which produces nearly 40 percent of India's reserve food supply. The state of Alabama will benefit from joint agricultural research programs in cooperation with its counterpart state, Punjab.

Dr. Gurmej Sandhu, the Chairman of Sigmatech, initiated the dual-chair concept. Having established the Chair at UAHuntsville, he is now following through with the establishment of the Baba Deep Eminent Scholar Chair in Amritsar, India.

Dr. Sandhu is a 1979 electrical engineering graduate from The University of Alabama in Huntsville. He was inducted into the Distinguished Engineering Academy of The University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2001 and was a recipient of the distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 2004 for his contribution to system science and signal processing.

Dr. Sandhu said he strongly supports corporate contributions to develop the future workforce through the university environment.

"We are extremely grateful to Dr. Sandhu and Sigmatech for establishing this eminent scholar chair," said UAHuntsville Provost Vistasp Karbhari. "This will not only add strength to our already strong program in political science, but will also enable us to increase the awareness and understanding of the interconnectedness of the global community in which we live."

Dr. Karbhari added that UAHuntsville has a distinguished record of global partnerships in science and technology, and this chair will allow additional cross- and trans-disciplinary scholarship, while simultaneously working to meld hearts and minds across national, socio-political and cultural borders.

"We look forward to working together with friends and alumni as to take UAHuntsville to ever greater heights of excellence," Dr. Karbhari said.

For more information,

contact Ray Garner



CanSat challenges UAHuntsville students to design, build and fly small rocket payload

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (Sept. 13, 2011) - The order seems simple enough: Deliver one raw egg, intact.

But it's backed by hard-boiled rules that eventually will make the difference in safely putting satellites in orbit, or humans on Mars.

Welcome to CanSat as students from The University of Alabama in Huntsville prepare for their fourth year going up against national and international university teams.

CanSat is a growing national college competition that challenges students to design, build, and fly a small rocket payload, about the size of a can of Pringle's potato chips, to loft a raw egg 1.1km (more than a half mile) high and safely return it to the ground.

"CanSat gets people familiar with high-speed design processes," said Eric Becnel, president of the UAHuntsville team. "Skills you develop in CanSat are very valuable. Everything you learn is useful."

The annual competition - organized by the American Astronautical Society (AAS) and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), supported by the Naval Research Laboratory, NASA, and Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp - is held each June on a farm at Cross Plains, Texas, near Abilene.

team in_the_field

"We placed second and third in recent years and fourth this summer," said Dr. John Gregory, director of the Alabama Space Grant Consortium at UAHuntsville. "We have been in contention every year we have competed. The field usually includes 15 to 20 teams a year, some of them high-power universities, like the University of Maryland and the University of California at San Diego. This year's prominence of Turkey, which took first place, and India is a new phenomenon."

As the name suggests, the payload has to fit into a volume approximately that of a can of potato chips or of tennis balls. Its purpose is to move beyond paper design competitions and put young space engineers through a miniature version of what they will face with larger projects.

"CanSat is one of a portfolio of programs that all have the same general purpose," said Gregory. "We are teaching young scientists and engineers to tackle questions for which the answer is not in the back of the book, or for which there are multiple answers."

Teams comprise up to 10 students, usually undergraduates, with a smaller limit on the number of graduate students who can be involved. They propose the mission, design, document, review, build, test and fly. And they have to fit it atop someone else's rocket, just like the real world. Teams are scored on schedules, design reviews, and the flight itself.

"We use real space missions as a template," Gregory explained. "The students must go through each of the stages as on a real mission, from proposal to post-flight report. And they learn to work with other people. It's been very successful."

"It's a very tightly controlled system," Becnel said. "A lot of systems have to work within these guidelines. The mechanical guy has to work with the electrical guy, and it all has to come together just right."

Indeed, with a 27-page instruction manual, one might wonder how original the teams can be.

"You have a lot of room for flexibility," Becnel assured. "It was amazing to see the differences between the various designs on the flight line in Texas."

Differences include various resources available at their respective schools. The UAHuntsville team, for example, used rapid prototyping equipment to build a container for their egg. They also came up with a conical fitting to soften impact (retrorockets and other neat touches are not allowed). Like other teams, they had to develop their own sensor to measure the rate of descent, and use a particular type of radio for tracking. And the price tag has to be less than $1,000.

A priceless aspect they are allowed is tapping the expertise of UAHuntsville and NASA scientists and engineers, but only to answer very specific questions.

Whatever the teams produce, it has to fit inside the volume of a can, 72mm (3 in) diameter by 280mm (11 in) long -larger than a soda can - and weigh no more than a half-kilogram (1.1 pound). The rocket lofts it 1.1km high, and parachutes have to deploy and slow the package to certain speeds. Onboard sensors control release of the payload and deployment of parachutes. Competitors may install a camera or impact recorder. Telemetry has to be broadcast during the flight.

This year UAHuntsville came in fourth because of two simple errors. The electronic crystal that times the flight sequence had a bit of contamination, so the payload never realized it had left the ground. Then the parachute failed when its ties to the payload pulled loose. The payload hit the ground at nearly 110km/h (68 mph) but stayed in one piece.

Scrambling the payload did not mean finishing last, though. Five teams lost their payloads altogether, whereas UAHuntsville was able to calculate their impact point to within 60 feet of where they landed, one of the performance criteria.

Both of the flight problems had a common cause and thus a big lesson: the UAHuntsville team started later than they should have and did not allow enough time to test it properly.

"You can't wait until the last minute to build these things," Becnel said. "You have to do a full system test to see if it's going to work." And indeed the sequencer worked fine, after the fact, when cleaned and reassembled properly.

The UAHuntsville team is avoiding that problem for the 2012 competition. Recruiting has started, and already there is enough interest that two teams may be formed with enthusiasm like Becnel's helping fuel the next launch to one kilometer and, eventually, Mars.

"I love it," Becnel said. "We work every single day, even in the summer, with no class credit. We're really enabled to come up with our own designs."

For more information,
contact Ray Garner 

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