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NASA's Johnson Space Center technology commercialization and transfer: Exploratory case studies, comparative analysis and environmental characterization of influential elements in the technology transfer process

Posted on:2002-07-08Degree:D.ScType:Thesis
University:The George Washington UniversityCandidate:Ulrich, George HenryFull Text:PDF
This is a study about the capability of employees to enable the transfer and commercialization of technology developed by NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC), mandated by Congress (Space Act and subsequent legislation) and directed by NASA Headquarters through the NASA Strategic Plan. The hypothesis of the research was that NASA did not provide sufficient infrastructure for its employees and contractors to effectively support technology transfer at JSC. The research was conducted from 1991--2000 but concentrated on the activities at JSC prior to the end of 1994. JSC, a NASA field center, was engaged primarily in manned space flight. Five methods were used to gather and assess the data: (1) document analysis, (2) JSC technology transfer process assessment, (3) case studies analysis, (4) interview assessment, and (5) survey results.; The document analysis covered NASA documents including strategic plans and implementing instructions. The process assessment involved processing of 148 JSC technology cases. A subset of twenty cases were selected for more detailed analysis. Interviews were conducted with those responsible for implementing the process. This included inventors, patent holders and contractors. Surveys were conducted with the JSC Technology Utilization Office, JSC technical managers, Texas Coast Alliance of Technology Transfer, Houston Inventors Association, and the Southwestern Aerospace Professional Representatives Association.; Eight enabling elements of the process were identified. The elements were (1) management involvement, (2) career path, (3) organization, (4) rewards, (5) known objectives, (6) plans, policies and methods, (7) barrier removal, and (8) tool provisioning.; The results of the study supported the hypothesis. The findings showed that while some enabling elements were present at JSC, they were neither wide spread among employees and contractors nor sufficiently implemented. In general, management did not believe that technology transfer was part of their job responsibilities. While contractors were receiving an increasing amount of the NASA R&D funding, NASA did not require their support in the transfer process. This was indicated by the small number of new technology reports, absence of an assessment of technology transfer performance in the quarterly contract evaluation, and the failure to require metrics that tracked activity on technology transfer.; This study provided an assessment of the effects that federal policies on technology transfer have had at JSC.
Keywords/Search Tags:Technology, Transfer, NASA, JSC, Process, Space, Elements, Assessment
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