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Alumni Lecture Series (2017)

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Dr. Tracie Prater

"The Role of Advanced Manufacturing in NASA’s Space Exploration Initiatives"

By Dr. Tracie Prater

Monday, September 11, 2017
7:30 p.m - 9:00 p.m., 3104 Science Building


Advanced manufacturing is a key capability for enabling sustainable, long-duration human spaceflight missions.  In recent years, NASA has leveraged many novel manufacturing techniques to support its missions and hardware development.  These techniques, ranging from innovative welding technologies to 3D printing, have the potential to reduce the time from “art to part”, enable the use of new materials for spaceflight applications, reduce cost and manufacturing infrastructure, and ultimately change the way humans live and work in the space environment. This talk will provide a broad overview of NASA technology development efforts in the areas of manufacturing for space, in-space, and in situ (on the planetary surface).  Highlights include friction stir welding (a solid state joining process for metal structures), additive manufacturing (3D printing), composites, and manufacturing in-space for repair, replacement, and on-demand, adaptive fabrication.  Dr. Prater will also discuss her background and personal journey to her current role at NASA.


Dr. Tracie Prater is an aerospace engineer in the Materials and Processes Laboratory Engineering Support Office at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.  She is currently the materials discipline lead engineer for NASA’s in-space manufacturing project and serves as a subject matter expert for NASA’s Centennial Challenge on 3D Printing of Habitats. Prior to joining NASA in 2013, she was a manufacturing engineer at United Launch Alliance.  Originally from Hazard, Kentucky, she graduated summa cum laude from Eastern Kentucky University in 2006 with a B.S. in physics.  She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University, where her research work on aerospace manufacturing was supported by a NASA Space Grant Fellowship and a NASA Graduate Student Research Program Fellowship.  She is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and serves in leadership roles with AIAA at the local and regional level.  In her spare time, she enjoys SCUBA diving, running, reading about all things space-related and traveling.  She is also an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University and is the author or co-author of over 20 publications.

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