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Engineering Faculty Assist NASA With Research
July 8, 2003

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Two Mercer University School of Engineering faculty members are assisting the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) with research projects this summer.


Dr. Behnam Kamali and Dr. Renee Rogge are spending 10 weeks as summer faculty fellows of the American Society of Engineering Education and NASA.

Kamali, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Mercer, is working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) at the California Institute of Technology. He is working with a team of researchers to improve the channel coding component of the communication systems used by interplanetary spacecrafts for transmission of images to earth.

As spacecraft travel further and further into outer space and the signals they transmit are getting weaker, channel coding is applied to make up for the signal power loss, Kamali explained. He is working with NASA to devise innovative channel coding techniques for reception of clearer images from spacecrafts millions of miles away from earth.

Rogge, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Mercer, is working at the Anthropometry and Biomechanics Facility (ABF) at Johnson Space Center in Houston. At this NASA facility, researchers study issues humans may encounter while living, working and exploring outer space. Rogge is working to develop a 3-D model of a human body that will better enable researchers to evaluate space suits and hardware used by astronauts.

Through this summer research project, Rogge is able to work with some of the latest technology as well as learn new experimental techniques. This is Rogge's second summer and Kamali's third summer working as faculty fellows with NASA.

Both Mercer faculty members say their work with NASA has enhanced their teaching. By drawing on their experiences with NASA, Kamali and Rogge are better able to show their students that the theory they study in class has practical uses in the working world.

"I bring these experiences back to Mercer and try to incorporate as much of it as I can in my classes, through examples, stories or pictures," Rogge said. "It is encouraging to students when they hear that something they are learning is directly transferable to the real world."