New Partnerships Between NASA, Embry-Riddle Discussed with Aerospace Icons of the NSBE, Legacy Pathways


Embry-Riddle President Dr. P Barry Butler and the student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) welcomed an impressive gathering of NSBE space industry luminaries this week to the Daytona Beach Campus for a daylong dialog on creating mutually beneficial partnerships between Embry-Riddle students and NASA researchers.

The event was organized by Kenneth Hunt, Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Also on hand to welcome the special guests was Dr. Nancy Lawrence, Associate Professor of Aerospace & Occupational Safety in the College of Aviation and Dr. Leroy Long, Assistant Professor of Engineering Fundamentals in the College of Engineering.

Several Embry-Riddle NSBE chapter representatives were on hand as tour guides and participants, including graduate student Osarodion Ogbebor-Evans and undergraduate students Ruth Chungi, Malik Moville, Raymond Miller, Mehvesh Shaikh and Fevens Jean Louis. 

Afterward, the group headed for lunch and presentations at the nearby Florida NextGen Testbed, hosted by Chris Kokai, director of Testbed operations. Joining the group for the afternoon were Business College Dean Dr. Mike Williams, Dean of Students Lisa Kollar, ‎Senior Executive Director of Development Chris Lambert and Lt. Col. and Chair of Army ROTC at Embry-Riddle, Todd Mitchell.

After opening remarks by President Butler, a presentation on the NSBE Space Special Interest Group was led by Ken Ruffin, Director of the National Space Society and Dr. Dexter Johnson, Structural Systems Dynamics Chief at the NASA Glen Research Center. Dr. Robert Howard, NASA Habitability Design Center Manager and Tim Willis, a SAIC Engineer working at the Johnson Space Center, challenged Embry-Riddle aerospace engineering students to design viewing windows that integrate into an RV-sized long-range lunar rover.

A second presentation on the International Space Station (ISS) included NASA Johnson Space Center research scientist Lakita Lowe and assistant to the center director Darryl Gaines, Lockheed Martin Fellow Ernest D. Levert and Dr. Joi Spraggins. Dean Mirmirani talked about the goal of having students design and build research projects aboard the ISS in the not too distant future.

The afternoon ended with Embry-Riddle SpeakER Series director and radio host Marc Bernier broadcasting his afternoon radio program live from the Florida NextGen Testbed, where he discussed the day’s events with NSBE students and the visiting NASA scientists.

The day wrapped up with special thanks going out to Kenneth Hunt for bringing together NSBE, scientists, educators and students, and Embry-Riddle staff and administration to create the possibility of close collaboration with NASA on exciting new future research in space.