(TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University alumnus and NASA engineer has been recognized for outstanding contribution to the agency.
Ron Cobbs, a 1989 TSU graduate with a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and avionics chief engineer assigned to the International Space Station operations, recently received the NASA Johnson Space Center Director’s Commendation Award.
The award, the highest honor given by the NASA-JSC administrator, recognizes the center’s civil servants with ‘significant’ contribution toward the mission and operations of the JSC.
Last year, Cobbs’ input was helpful in identifying the cause of a space suit malfunction during a spacewalk in July. Although Cobbs was not part of the official Extravehicular Mobility Unit (space suit) investigating team, he was asked to ‘look into’ the situation because the problem “appeared to be electrical.”
“I discovered that the problem was a systems problem relative to operational use of the serial port on the laptop side of the suit,” said Cobbs, after investigating the problem.
As a result of his findings and recommendation, the procedures for the astronauts were rewritten and retested, subsequently leading to identifying the problem.
Saying that he is “deeply honored” to receive the Administrator’s Award fro NASA-JSC, Cobbs, who has been with NASA for nearly 30 years, credits his parents and his TSU preparation for his career success.
“My parents always taught me to work hard and always do the right thing,” said Cobbs, who also holds a master’s degree in Space Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. “They taught me to believe in myself, have faith and shoot for the moon.”
Shooting for the moon is what Cobbs has been doing since. As avionics chief engineer, his role is to ensure that engineers in the NASA Directorate adhere to the ‘right processes.’ He also supports project managers during the design, development, test and evaluation of projects that require electronics and/or software for operational use.
“I also support Failure Investigation Teams whenever their failures or anomalies on the Space Station need to be resolved. I also sit on several Space Station program boards to provide concurrence representing engineering on all proposed forward plans and action that will be implemented,” Cobbs noted.
“Ronald Cobbs is a true example of an electrical engineering graduate with passion for life-long learning and professional growth,” Dr. Satinderpaul Singh Devgan, professor and head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said of his former student, when information came out about Cobbs’ spacesuit malfunction intervention.
Cobbs joined NASA at the Johnson Space Center immediately after graduating TSU. He has moved through the ranks from design engineer, systems engineer to now ISS avionics chief engineer.
“I think Ron Cobbs’ achievement at NASA is a great story,” said Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of the College of Engineering.