UAH and JACOBS Engineering announce new graduate fellowship program

JACOBS Systems Engineering Fellows Program

On hand for the UAH and JACOBS Systems Engineering Fellows Program announcement are: seated (l to r) Randy Lycans (VP Jacobs); Christine Curtis (UAH Provost); Garrick Jennings (UAH graduate student, JSEFP recipient); standing (l to r) David Berkowitz (Dean, UAH Graduate School); Dale Thomas (UAH Professor, Eminent Scholar) and Lisa Monaco (CED Manager, JSEG).

Michael Mercier | UAH

The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and JACOBS Engineering recently established a new education partnership, designed to offer graduate students financial support and the opportunity to work with company engineers on pioneering research projects.

"The JACOBS Systems Engineering Fellows Program (JSEFP) at UAH will offer graduate students the opportunity to advance their education, gain practical experience in their technical fields, and serve the national interest by developing new technologies and solutions to problems of interest," said Dr. L. Dale Thomas, Director, Alabama Space Grant Consortium and Professor and Eminent Scholar in Systems Engineering.

Garrick Jennings is the first recipient of the JSEFP/UAH Graduate Fellowship. An Aerospace Systems Engineering major Jennings works with Thomas as a Graduate Research Assistant on Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) projects.

Jennings will be working to support the JACOBS Space Exploration Group (JSEG) contract at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).

"JACOBS has been very diligent in working with UAH and with Garrick to identify projects that will provide background and relevant work experiences for his masters thesis research, which will be in systems engineering for space transportation vehicles powered by Nuclear Thermal Propulsion," said Thomas.

Jennings is "excited and nervous" about being the first JSEFP/UAH graduate fellow. "My performance will set the tone for future JSEFP/UAH fellows, and my feedback will help shape the program. I have already experienced a lot of support from JACOBS and have been working on Redstone for a few weeks. I am supporting the System Integration Laboratory which has a running hardware-in-the-loop configuration of the Space Launch System (SLS)."

Thomas said JACOBS’ strong academic support of UAH will allow the College of Engineering to recruit and retain talented students who will, in turn, solve challenging problems in collaboration with the international technical services firm.

"This program is one collaborative vehicle to help JACOBS meet their workforce needs and help UAH conduct research relevant to the needs of MSFC and JACOBS," Thomas said.

UAH’s new long-term partnership with JACOBS is the best of both worlds for the university and the tech company.

"With the continuous need for a well-educated and highly trained aerospace workforce, it is critical that academia and industry partner when possible to ensure we are ready to meet the needs of Jacob’s customers, including NASA/MSFC," said Dr. Lisa Monaco (‘90 MS Chemistry, ‘94 PhD Materials Science), CED Manager, JSEG.

"To maintain our nation’s position as a global leader in space, we must motivate our students to go into the Aerospace field and other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) related areas," said Monaco. "In 1987, UAH and NASA offered a graduate fellowship program and I was fortunate enough to have been selected. I performed ground-based research for some early microgravity experiments being conducted on various Shuttle flights. It was through this program that I was able to complete both my MS (Chemistry) and PhD (Materials Science) at UAH. The entirety of my career has revolved around supporting the space program. It has truly been an honor and privilege to work on such an exciting mission, and with outstanding people," added Monaco.

"Supporting graduate education though assistantships help both the company and the student. First by having a student and faculty member work with a company on a practical issue and second by having the student gain experience. Additionally the student is able to receive funding to help offset the cost of their education," said Dr. David Berkowitz, UAH Dean of the Graduate School and International Services.

"JACOBS will concur in Garrick’s thesis research topic, and Dr. Monaco has agreed to serve on his thesis committee," said Thomas.

Jennings’ research includes completing trajectory analysis for potential science missions using NTP technology or calculating gravity loads on the rocket operating at full power for Cryogenic Fluid Management analysis purposes.

"Most of our workforce supporting NASA’s MSFC is working on NASA’s SLS, so Garrick will have ample opportunity to be part of this generation’s program that will send us to the Moon and Mars with the most powerful rocket ever launched," said Monaco. "Because his focus is Systems Engineering, he will rotate around our departments where this skill is utilized, thereby getting a unique opportunity to learn about multiple disciplines and with a system level perspective," Monaco added.

"One of UAH’s strategic advantages is proximity to the Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park," said Thomas. "We must engage with them to exploit that strategic advantage for the military base and industrial park in ways that further UAH training and research mission," Thomas added.

JSEFP/UAH Fellows serve as Graduate Research Assistants (GRA) during the academic year at UAH, and JACOBS reimburses the university for their tuition, fees, with a stipend. Additionally, during the summer, JACOBS provides internships for the JSEFP/UAH Fellows. Applicants must be U.S. Citizens, and must be pursuing a graduate STEM degree at UAH in the field of systems engineering.

Jennings’ JSEFP/UAH award ends in 2020, when a new graduate student will be selected to participate in the program.



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