Dr. Hartl and former student Christopher Bertagne traveled to Washington D.C. to present the research performed in collaboration with NASA-Johnson and NASA-Glenn on SMA-based morphing radiators to three Congressmen and their staff members.
The visit to The Hill was in support of an award ceremony sponsored by the Consortium for Aerospace and Science and the Aerospace Industries Association to honor Congressman John Culberson (TX), Chair of the appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, for his demonstrated support of NASA over the years. In addition to the Texas A&M cohort, researchers from the University of Michigan, University of Colorado, Northrup Grumman, and other entities were also on hand to discuss their NASA-funded efforts in various areas.
Hartl and Bertagne had the chance to educate Chairman Culberson regarding the theory of operation of the proposed morphing radiator concept and presented him with a custom shape memory alloy wire ring that forms the shape of the state of Texas when heated. The radiator project is directed by Hartl with Co-PI John Whitcomb. The meeting was a special treat for Bertagne, who grew up in Culberson’s district (TX District 7) and was eventually able to realize his life goal of being employed at NASA JPL after completing his NASA-funded masters focuses on the morphing radiator research and eventually giving widely attended internal NASA seminars on the technology to JPL thermal engineers while still a student.
Other members of Congress also made the rounds and discussed research interests with the MAESTRO representatives. These included Congressman Bill Flores (TX), who represents the district extends from Texas A&M to include parts of north Austin, and Congressman Steve Knight, who is a champion for aeronautics research. With Knight in particular, Hartl had a chance to discuss the new NASA University Leadership Initiative project on shape-adaptive low-boom supersonic aircraft, in which the MAESTRO lab is a core participant. It is the hope that this advocacy for sustained federal funding for fundamental development in aeronautics and astronautics will have an impact on these federal representatives in the coming legislative sessions.