About the Chapter Founder



            Dr. Robert L. Howard, Jr. was born in Xenia, Ohio, but grew up primarily in Greensboro, North Carolina.  He also lived briefly in Tallahassee, Florida and Camp Springs, Maryland.  He graduated from James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro in 1989.   


            Dr. Howard received a B.S. in General Science from Morehouse College in 1995, and a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech in the same year, under the Morehouse-Georgia Tech Dual Degree Engineering Program.  He went from Atlanta back home to Greensboro to pursue a M.S. in Industrial Engineering with a focus in Human Factors from North Carolina A&T State University, graduating in December of 1997.  His thesis was entitled “An Expert Systems Approach to Spacecraft Cabin Design.”  He then entered the doctoral program in Aerospace Engineering, with a focus in space engineering, at the University of Tennessee Space Institute.  Dr. Howard defended his dissertation, “Formulation of a Cislunar Human Transportation Architecture Through Use of Analytic, Heuristic, and Parametric Algorithms,” in September 2002 and reported to JSC in October to begin full time employment.  While at UTSI, Dr. Howard presented papers related to his dissertation at numerous technical conferences.


If you would like, you can preview or order a copy of his dissertation here.  (Click the “continue” box to move to the page with my dissertation.)

            As a college student, Dr. Howard was a JSC regular through eight student summer work tours.  He was part of Morehouse’s first class of Ron McNair NASA Scholars, interning as a McNair Scholar while at Morehouse and Georgia Tech.  He matriculated through NC A&T and UTSI as a graduate co-op.  Work tours included the no longer existent User Products Section of the Information Systems Directorate, the Mission Operations Directorate’s Systems Division shuttle Guidance and Controls Systems Group, and the X-38 (X-35 at the time) Avionics Group.

            Dr. Howard has also been an active member of NSBE, serving in numerous chapter and regional offices.  He has received a number of awards, including the NASA Group Achievement Award, NSBE Golden Torch Awards Graduate Student of the Year, NSBE National Member of the Year, NSBE Alumni Extension National Member of the Year, NSBE National Distinguished Fellow, NSBE Technical Paper Competition First and Second Place, NSBE Fellow, UTSI-NSBE Chapter Member of the Millennium, and United States Achievement Academy All American Scholar.  Currently, Dr. Howard is the National Alumni Technical Excellence Chair, as well as the founder and president of the Houston Space Chapter. Dr. Howard is also the Founder of the Space Special Interest Group.


            Dr. Howard is currently employed by NASA-Johnson Space Center.  He is assigned to the Habitability and Human Factors Office where he serves as the manager for the Habitability Design Center. He leads several human factors design studies for NASA spacecraft under development. Currently, he is the only Black person on the core team of the Lunar Lander project, where he serves as the Human Factors lead.

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