Stephani showcases work to NASA officials, lawmakers on Capitol Hill

06/16/2017
 
Stephani talks with NASA chief Robert Lightfoot about her agency-funded research.
Stephani talks with NASA chief Robert Lightfoot about her agency-funded research.
Kelly Stephani had the opportunity to put MechSE in the national spotlight and show off her impactful work to some of the highest officials in NASA yesterday on Capitol Hill. 
 
The assistant professor attended “NASA Technology Day on the Hill,” the sixth annual event in which the space agency showcases its own work as well as university-partnered projects and new technologies developed in academia and industry. The event also serves to advocate for the impact that NASA-funded efforts have on the economy, society, and scientific community. Members of congress, congressional staff, and lawmakers were in attendance. 
 
Stephani presented her work directly to NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot and Associate Administrator Steven Jurczyk, among others.
 
“When we reenter the atmosphere, the gas and the vehicle gets hot and we need to find ways to protect the vehicle,” she said to The Hill. “We work on modeling that system, that whole process.” 
 
This research – an effort to better protect spacecraft as they reenter earth’s atmosphere – has been funded by a 2015 NASA Early Career Faculty Award, a program that challenges junior faculty to examine the theoretical feasibility of ideas and approaches that are critical to making science, space travel, and exploration more effective, affordable, and sustainable.
 
“It was great exposure and a fantastic experience,” said Stephani. Her conversation with Lightfoot will be featured soon on NASA TV.
 
Stephani joined MechSE in August 2014, and earned her PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2012. She leads the Computational Kinetics Group, which utilizes direct simulation Monte Carlo, deterministic Boltzmann solvers and Molecular Dynamics for improved modeling of non-equilibrium and non-continuum flows, fundamental transport processes, and material response within multi-scale, multi-physics systems.