Written by Emily McGuire

Patrick Hambloch has joined the Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) as Project Manager of the NSF funded EPSCoR project "Connecting the Plasma Universe to Plasma Technology in Alabama" (CPU2AL). Patrick comes to CSPAR as a PMP certified Project Manager with a master’s degree in space systems engineering and a bachelor’s in electrical engineering and brings over 10 years of experience in multi-discipline engineering, research, and project management to CSPAR. Hambloch worked at Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center at UAH before his appointment as Project Manager of CPU2AL, and before coming to UAH, he worked at Microgravity User Support Center of the German Aerospace Center in Cologne, Germany on Space Station operations where he was team lead and in charge of operations for the material science laboratory on the International Space Station.

"We were very fortunate that Patrick was interested in joining the CPU2AL program since his skills and background, especially the connection to space and plasma, was ideal. My initial impression has been reinforced with Patrick's excellent start and the EPSCoR project is moving forward seamlessly.  Team Management and I have found it very easy to work with Patrick and we're anticipating a long and productive partnership together,” says Dr. Gary Zank, director of CSPAR and CPU2AL.

As project manager of CPU2AL, Hambloch’s responsibilities include organizing information for documentation and reporting of the research activities to NSF as well as running the student programs Corporate Internship Program on Plasma Technology Applications (CIPPTA), Alabama Plasma Internship Program (ALPIP), and Alabama Research Experiences for Undergraduates (ALREU). The student programs partner with industry and universities to provide 10-week long internship opportunities for students that are funded through CPU2AL. Through the NSF EPSCoR program funding, there are internships for undergraduate and graduate students, graduate research assistant opportunities, K-12 outreach activities as well as seed funding opportunities for research projects.

Another aspect of the appointment has been forming relationships with the other investigators from the eight other universities and one research corporation apart of CPU2AL. The management team meets monthly by phone, and in-person meetings are held twice a year. While furthering the low temperature plasma research thrusts of CPU2AL is the primary focus, the project also aims to grow the body of knowledge in Alabama specifically. For Patrick, this statewide effort has been very interesting, and he enjoys working with multiple universities across the state.

Outside of work, Patrick stays very busy with his involvement as chair of the Workforce Development and Young Professionals Program Committee in the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). His work with IAF involves organizing events for the more than 500 young professionals that are attending the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) that is organized by the IAF. The IAC is held in a different country each year and is taking place in Washington, D.C. this October. Hambloch enjoys the congress because “the whole Space Community comes together at this one event every year and it has been very fun and fulfilling to meet all these people working from around the globe.”

Hambloch began his post at CSPAR in June and was fortunate to have a six-week overlap working with his predecessor Carlos Reinhold who spent time getting him up to speed on exactly where any outstanding tasks on CPU2AL were. “It's good to have (the overlap) because it's essentially helping me to focus on the important things. Otherwise, I would have to read through all these documents and figure it out alone,” says Hambloch. Having the insights from the previous project manager has allowed for a smooth transition into the role. “The management team has been helpful and everybody in the office has been great,” says Hambloch.

 “My goal is to make it as seamless of a transition as I possibly can because everything goes on, there's no waiting or time to spend a year reading up on everything,” says Hambloch of his short term goals at CSPAR. His long term goals are to enable the science being conducted through CPU2AL and to progress the research thrusts to where they need to be as well as continuing the outreach and workforce development activities as planned. “We have had good grades from the NSF so far and the goal is to keep that going,” says Patrick.