Computer Science Professor Ashraf Saad Participates in Prestigious NASA Faculty Fellowship Program


Ashraf Saad, professor of computer science, recently completed a second prestigious 10-week NASA Glenn Faculty Fellowship Program in Cleveland, Ohio. The summer program, which Saad originally attended in 2006, offered the opportunity to conduct state-of-the-art research at NASA’s Controls and Dynamics branch.

Saad was one of about 20 college professors selected from across the country to work closely with their counterparts in NASA engineering on a technical problem of mutual interest. As part of this prestigious program, he conducted research focusing on advanced algorithms for the control of air and space applications, exploring verification and validation of software. Saad's stay at NASA also coincided with the successful landing of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover on August 6.

“It was wonderful being immersed in a research and development environment for an extended period of time and being exposed to all the research ideas being developed at the Glenn Research Center,” he said. “To be at the cutting edge--and to be involved with advanced work in dynamics and control--was very rewarding.”

Fellowships are intended primarily for full-time science and engineering faculty of U.S. citizenship who are tenured or in tenure-track positions at four-year accredited U.S. colleges and universities. Research projects must be aligned with the technology needs of the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and have the potential to advance NASA’s overall mission.

The main campus of Glenn Research Center, which is adjacent to the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, includes 140 buildings with more than 500 specialized research and test facilities. The Center’s world-class research efforts and technological advancements encompass many areas of space flight systems development such as
Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thrusters for in-space propulsion systems, Silicon Carbide-based electronics and sensors, power and energy storage and conversion and Plasma Spray--Physical Vapor Deposition (PS-PVD).

Saad has a doctorate from Vanderbilt University and conducts research in computational intelligence, soft computing, robotics and agent-based systems. He has a passion for the use of educational robotics in computer science education and originally joined Armstrong in the fall of 2006 as head of the Department of Computer Science. He currently serves as the principal investigator at Armstrong for two National Science Foundation grant awards.

Saad has authored or co-authored many peer-reviewed journal and conference publications and continues to involve and mentor Armstrong students. He plans to involve advanced computer science undergraduates in future research projects inspired by his experience in the NASA summer program.

“I believe I made the most out of the experience,” he reported. “The findings of my research during the fellowship will help both my teaching and mentoring of students on research projects at Armstrong in the future. It helped me gain a better appreciation of cutting-edge software applications that students at Armstrong need to learn about.”