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From Dogtag to Digitag

The age of automation is here for field medical units. The Theater Medical Information Program (TMIP) has the task of developing and integrating a number of medical information systems into a single system that can record and maintain a soldier's medical information while deployed in other areas of the world.

Medics will utilize small portable computers running the TMIP component software to electronically record patient information, says Aaron DeWispelare, a manager in SwRI's Automation and Data Systems Division.

An important part of this effort is the integration of an "electronic dogtag," a portable computerized storage device that holds a soldier's medical information during deployment. When the soldier returns to the home base, all medical treatment received in the field while deployed will be readily available to the supporting medical treatment facility.

The TMIP Management Office has contracted with SwRI to serve as the technical consultant for this effort and to integrate the medical information systems selected to support the soldier in the field. SwRI engineers are currently testing TMIP prototypes in military field exercises.

TMIP is projected to be fully tested and ready for deployment in early 2000.

Improving Turbine Safety

A $9 million Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant to SwRI will fund further development of a successful computer design tool to improve the safety of jet engines used in commercial aircraft, SwRI officials announced.

The software code for turbine rotor design and life management was developed at SwRI under the program's initial phase, which began in 1995. The FAA marked the public release of the code, called "Design Assessment of Reliability with Inspection," with a training session for industry and government users held in May.

While the initial phase focused on internal defects found in titanium alloys, the software will be enhanced during the second phase to include other turbine-disk materials and defects.

Four major U.S. jet engine manufacturers -- AlliedSignal, Rolls Royce-Allison, General Electric, and Pratt & Whitney -- are subcontractors who have helped SwRI develop the program.

"This design tool will increase the safety of the commercial airliner fleet," said Dr. Gerald Leverant, manager of the FAA program and program director for Power Generation Materials in SwRI's Mechanical and Materials Engineering Division.

The software program is designed to assess the risk that a jet-engine turbine disk might contain a flaw that could cause a catastrophic failure. Such a failure in 1989 resulted in a fatal accident involving a DC-10 airliner near Sioux City, Iowa.

Contact Leverant at (210) 522-2041 or

Back in Space

tt21.jpg (23693 bytes)Space scientists and engineers at SwRI oversaw the second flight of the SWUIS imager aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-93) in late July.

SWUIS, Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System, is an innovative telescope and an ultraviolet-sensitive, charged-coupled device camera system that operates from inside the space shuttle cabin. The system is used to image planets and other solar system bodies to explore their atmospheres and surfaces in the ultraviolet spectral region, which is particularly valuable for such studies.

Though small, the sensitive SWUIS system has attributes that make it a valuable complement to more expensive space observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). Among these are SWUIS' unusually wide field of view, which is up to 30 times that of HST, and an ability to observe objects much closer to the sun than can most space observatories. The latter capability allows SWUIS to explore the inner solar system, which few other instruments can.

Weighing just over 60 pounds, the instrument made its first flight on STS-85 in August 1997. On that mission, SWUIS obtained more than 400,000 images of comet Hale-Bopp at a time when the HST could not observe the comet because of the glare of the sun. The resulting images have revealed important insights into the comet's water and dust production rates as it left the sun on its return to the Oort Cloud of comets.

During the STS-93 mission, SWUIS imaged the clouds of Venus, searched for faint emissions in the jovian system as an adjunct to the Galileo Jupiter orbiter, mapped Earth's moon at ultraviolet wavelengths for the first time, searched inside Mercury's orbit for evidence of a hypothesized asteroid belt called "the Vulcanoids," and conducted several other observations.

An SwRI flight control team led by SWUIS Principal Investigator Dr. Alan Stern and SWUIS Project Scientist Dr. David Slater operated from the NASA Johnson Space Center mission control in Houston. NASA and SwRI jointly funded the development of the SWUIS package.

More information about SWUIS, its history, and its objectives for STS-93 can be found at


50 Years of Engines

tt22.jpg (21585 bytes)In the earliest days of SwRI, former ranch outbuildings and barns were filled with modified, war-surplus test machinery and laboratory instruments. Cooled only by breezes, engineers and technicians worked alongside ranch hands.

Fifty years later, the Institute is encircled by San Antonio and bounded by some of its busiest traffic arteries, housing a diversified scientific research community. Almost a quarter of SwRI's more than 2,800 employees work in the Automotive Products and Emissions Research Division, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Automotive work at SwRI dates to January 1949 when a nucleus of engineers installed engines and dynamometers, along with instruments for testing fuels and lubricants. Soon after, fleets of test cars took to South Texas highways to perform over-the-road tests that supplemented and provided the baselines for laboratory engine-dynamometer work.

Over the years, concerns over air pollution from engine exhaust led to pioneering emissions research at SwRI. Diesel and gasoline engines were studied. A federally funded study of diesel odor and smoke, and another, that measured heavy-duty gasoline engine emissions in real time, yielded data used for the first California and federal test procedures for heavy-duty diesel and gasoline engines.

Division engineers and scientists have also worked with many developing countries and with virtually every major oil and additive company in Europe and South America, providing guidance and equipment for fuels and lubricants understanding and testing.

SwRI-designed equipment and SwRI-trained personnel can be found in many corners of the world, contributing to a better standard of life and improved environmental conditions.

Chemical analytical services offered by the Institute have grown from a simple supporting role to field and laboratory tests, to a department with more than 150 scientists, chemists, and technicians.

Each month, 650 gasoline samples are collected from retail outlets nationwide and tested for a consortium of major oil companies. In a separate program, 2,000 samples per month are tested from areas where reformulated gasoline has been mandated under provisions of the Clean Air Act.

Vice President Walter Groff comments, "Our 50th anniversary celebration this year is about our past and present employees. Those are the people who need to be honored, because without their talent, dedicated service, and loyalty, we could not have made the first 50 years."

Chapman Awarded Sagan Medal

tt23.jpg (27420 bytes)The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) has awarded the Carl Sagan Medal to Dr. Clark R. Chapman, an Institute scientist in the SwRI Department of Space Studies in Boulder, Colorado. Chapman is the second recipient of the award, named in honor of the late astronomer Carl Sagan, who was known for exploring the grandeur of the universe in lectures, books, and on television.

The Sagan Medal recognizes outstanding scientific communication to the general public by an active planetary scientist. Chapman was chosen in honor of his many promotional activities, such as writing articles, books, and a regular column for The Planetary Report, giving frequent commentaries on television and in the popular science journals, and for other projects involving education and public outreach. Chapman has also testified before Congress about the potential hazards of an asteroid or comet impacting the Earth.

"We live in a society that is increasingly dominated by science and technology, yet the gap continues to widen between public understanding of science and reality," he says. "That is why it is so important for scientists and engineers to bridge that gulf or to help journalists and educators do it.

"The general public is always quite fascinated by astronomy, so planetary science is an especially fertile subject to use for engaging them about scientific issues," he says. "And it is forward-looking, as we move to the next century when humankind will strive to explore -- and perhaps populate -- the solar system."

Contact Chapman at (303) 546-0281 or

Chan Named Fellow

tt24.jpg (30220 bytes)Dr. Kwai S. Chan, an Institute scientist in the SwRI Mechanical and Materials Engineering Division, has been elected a Fellow of the American Society for Metals (ASM) International. Chan was recognized by the society for distinguished contributions to "the understanding of the fracture and toughening processes in advanced materials."

Chan is a specialist in the mechanical behavior of materials. His current research interests are flow and fracture, micromechanical modeling of material behavior, and development of life-prediction methodology. He is the 1991 recipient of the Alfred Noble Prize presented by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Chan has also been honored three times as a young author, receiving the ASM Marcus A. Grossman Young Author Award in 1986 and 1994 and the Rossiter W. Raymond Memorial Award in 1990 from the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers.

Contact Chan at (210) 522-2053 or

Crouch Named Fellow

tt25.jpg (34372 bytes)Alfred E. Crouch, a staff engineer in the Nondestructive Evaluation Science and Technology Department at SwRI, has been elected a Fellow of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT). Crouch received the honor for "outstanding professional distinction and significant contributions to the advancement of nondestructive testing and to the ASNT."

Since joining SwRI, Crouch has been responsible for conceptualization and detail definition of nondestructive evaluation (NDE) systems, including an automated ultrasonic inspection system for naval marine boiler tubes and a pipeline inspection vehicle for the gas pipeline industry.

He is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Texas and holds 12 U.S. patents for inventions in the field of NDE and measurement.

Space Science Milestone

In the fall of 1994, two space scientists and a secretary opened quarters in downtown Boulder, Colorado. Five years later, this small SwRI outpost has grown to 21 researchers, resulting in one of the largest, most prestigious research groups in the country to study asteroids, comets, and the origin and evolution of the solar system. The staff also undertake challenging research in the fields of solar physics and stellar astronomy.

Today, University of Colorado graduate assistants and visiting scientists from institutions in the U.S. and Europe work with the technical staff of the Department of Space Studies (DoSS) of the Instrumentation and Space Research Division.

"The creation of a Boulder office was designed to broaden the scope of division activities and make SwRI a larger player in the nation's space research effort," says Dr. James Burch, the division vice president who oversees DoSS activities from San Antonio. "We didn't anticipate so much growth, so quickly. The Boulder activities have grown substantially in the last five years and complement the space research activities in San Antonio very well."

Research, performed in many cases with scientists from numerous other research and academic institutions and observatories, has resulted in an impressive array of accomplishments.

DoSS scientists recently found the source of the high-speed solar wind, which flows from the sun. These studies could lead to a better understanding of the interactions between the solar wind and the magnetosphere which sometimes disrupt satellites and other systems.

SwRI scientists developed the theory that there should be a "scattered disk" of Kuiper Belt objects, which was later confirmed. In addition, research has shown that there may be stars, 10 to 100 times the mass of the sun, that form far from bright star clusters, their commonly assumed birthplaces. DoSS studies of the craters on the jovian moons Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto indicate that the icy surface of Europa is very young, compared to the others.

Using spacecraft and telescopes, the Boulder staff make observations that lead to new theories on the formation of stars, planets, and moons. Advanced computers enable models to numerically simulate those theories, a process that sometimes takes days, or even weeks, to complete.

Staff also participate on space missions, including Galileo; Cassini; Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR); Deep Space 1; Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER); Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO); Solar-B; Rosetta European comet mission; and suborbital sounding rockets.

"In the coming years, we expect to increase our impact in the space and earth sciences," says Dr. Alan Stern, director of DoSS and one of the two founding scientists. Dr. Robin Canup serves as assistant director. Research is funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, SwRI internal research, and other sources.

DoSS scientists share much of their expertise with the national and international media on various space topics, and have appeared in award-winning scientific television documentaries.

Contact Robin Canup at (303) 546-9670 or More information about Boulder office activities is on the web at or

Published in the Fall 1999 issue of Published in the Fall 1999 issue of Technology Today®, published by Southwest Research Institute. For more information, contact Maria Martinez.

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