|Posted on Sep 02, 2011 09:17:25 AM | Gerald Steeman | 0 Comments ||
By Austin Irish, Langley Aerospace Research Summer Scholars (LARSS) Intern
What could a NASA Invention of the Year recipient (and runner up twice), who has 3 R&D (Research and Development) 100’s, 17 commercial licenses, over 30 patents and more than 75 technical publications, consider his biggest achievement? He considers being able to lead and gain the respect of “some very intelligent people” as his biggest accomplishment. That is what Dr. Robert Bryant, Head of the Advanced Materials and Processing Branch, says, and this speaks not only of his humility, but also of the incredible environment at NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC).
Bryant got his start at NASA LaRC (as many do) through participation in the Graduate Students Research Program (GSRP) while attending the University of Akron. His research was closely related to NASA's High-Speed Research (HSR) program, and following the completion of his PhD, he was offered a job at NASA LaRC. This was only the beginning of Bryant’s incredible career. Two of Bryant’s favorite inventions (both R&D 100’s) are the THUNDER (THin Layer UNimorph Ferroelectric DrivER) actuator, a thin piezoelectric ceramic, and the LaRC-SI, a polymer-based resin used for pacemakers. Having been a guest speaker at both the Technion in Israel and Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, Bryant is known around the world for his incredible work. Almost as impressive is his ability to find the time to work with over 30 students, thus providing guidance and inspiration to young scientists and engineers.
According to Bryant, people are his favorite part about working for NASA. “The people are fantastic… It’s a very dynamic environment. The majority of people here love coming to work and they are not afraid to tell you about how much they enjoy the work they are doing. I really think that’s why they are very good at what they do, because they enjoy their work so much.”
Bryant has a passion for what he does and who he does it with, which is why he is such an inspiration. Providing advice to young inventors, Bryant stated, “the ability to avoid negative criticism” is imperative for success. Having a large-enough ego to “withstand criticisms whether they are right or wrong and continue to work, without getting bogged down and without giving up” is the key to successful inventing. However, his counsel wasn’t limited to this. At the end of our recent interview, Bryant left us all with a prediction and a piece of advice. The future of materials rests in multifunctionality. “Materials will have to perform multiple functions… for example, they will not only be structural, but also thermally and electrically conductive.” His advice is“…if you want something, go for it. It’s not going to be easy, but if you keep plugging away you will beat all the others.”
Find Robert Bryant’s publications as well as his NASA colleagues at http://go.usa.gov/0rk.
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