Tag Archives: engineering mechanics

With Wisconsin engineer at the helm, San Diego company earns NASA award

Mary Baker

Mary Baker (BSEM '66)

ATA Engineering Inc., of San Diego, is one of two companies to receive the George M. Low Award, the premier NASA honor for quality and performance. ATA, whose president is Mary Baker (BSEM ’66),  supported development of the Mars Science Laboratory and its robotic rover, Curiosity, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

With 93 employees, this small business played a key role in the mission by conducting detailed mechanical simulation work to support spacecraft’s challenging entry, descent and landing at Mars in August 2012.

Evaluators cited ATA’s problem-solving ability, demonstrated with the design of Curiosity’s sampling scoop; its emphasis on contracting with small business and hiring young talent with high potential; and its strong culture of teamwork.

URS Federal Technical Services Inc. of Germantown, Maryland, earned the Low award in the large business award category.

The Low award demonstrates NASA’s commitment to promoting excellence and continual improvement by challenging its contractor community to be a global benchmark of quality management practices. The award was established in 1985 as NASA’s Excellence Award for Quality and Productivity and renamed in 1990 in memory of George M. Low, an outstanding leader with a strong commitment to quality products and workforce during his 27-year tenure at the agency. Low was NASA’s deputy administrator from 1969 to 1976 and a leader in the early development of space programs. Read the full NASA news release here.

Read a 2001 profile of Baker in the UW-Madison Department of Engineering Physics newsletter for alumni and friends.

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McCarthy Applies Engineering and Medicine to Help Children Walk

James McCarthy

James McCarthy

Bone is a remarkable organ, says orthopedic surgeon and engineering mechanics graduate James McCarthy (BSEM, ’86).

It grows and heals itself, and not many organs can do that. It can be cut and gradually lengthened. The bone fills itself in. If done at the right rhythm, a bone can grow to be just about as long as you want it to be.

Bone protects internal organs including the heart, lungs and brain. It transduces sound so that we can hear. It provides the scaffold upon which to hang all our other parts, and works with muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints to generate and transfer forces so that our bodies can move in three-dimensional space. In general, bone is a sort of dream material for the engineering mechanics major. But it wasn’t a fascination with bone that motivated McCarthy to become director of pediatric orthopaedic surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. (more…)

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