Janice Pawloski of Engineering Faculty
Receives Research Grant from NASA

Posted November 11, 2000

HOLLAND -- Dr. Janice Pawloski of the Hope College engineering faculty has received a grant from NASA in support of her research into how material destined for space handles changes in temperature.

The grant was one of only two awarded to researchers in Michigan by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through its Cross-Enterprise Technology Development Program. The program is a primary NASA vehicle for identifying and developing revolutionary space technologies to enable future missions and stimulate new concepts for missions not yet conceived.

Pawloski will be developing a mathematical model for anticipating how composite materials reinforced with microscopic, man-made carbon nanotubes react to changes in temperature. It is hoped that these composites will some day be used in space applications.

"Anything that is put into space is going to see a temperature change," she said. "We want to see how these components interact with different types of material around them, and develop a model for determining if they can maintain their structural integrity in the process of getting from earth into space."

According to Pawloski, the technology for creating and using the carbon nanotubes, which individually are smaller in diameter than a human hair, is still developing. Using data from others' work so far with nanotubes and composite materials, she hopes to work out a formula that will anticipate results in place of the expensive and time- consuming process of trial-and-error.

"I want to develop a mathematical model where they can simply input the parameters," she said. "What I would like to do is get it to where they could tell beforehand whether or not the combination is feasible."

The $112,000 grant will support Pawloski's work for three years, beginning in January. She will conduct her research primarily on the Hope campus, with Hope students participating in the work during both the school year and the summer.

Pawloski has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1997. She holds a bachelor of science degree from Michigan Technological University, and a master's and doctorate from Iowa State University.

NASA received 1,229 proposals for the Cross- Enterprise Technology Development Program, funding 111 for a total of more than $120 million. The broad range of studies, to be conducted by colleges and universities, industry, and private and government laboratories, will address general technology areas, ranging from new component technologies, to the development of new sensors, to the automation of spacecraft functions.

The other Michigan researcher to receive an award through the program is David Hyland of the Aerospace Engineering program at the University of Michigan, who is studying "Self-Reliant, High Resolution Imaging Using Formation Flying Spacecraft."


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