Engineering Business - Office Location Can Keep Your Expenses Low

Have you reviewed the company's budget recently? Does it need to be reevaluated? Has the staff stayed within the budget or are they over budget? What are you doing to get back in budget? These are all questions that need to be answered regularly to ensure a profit at the end of the day. If you have revenues then you want to keep as much of it as possible.

The purpose of the budget is to control the expenses and to make sure that they do not exceed the revenues. As long as the company has a greater quantity of incoming cash versus outgoing there is positive cash flow. Many of the businesses in the professional service industry that go out of business have a profit on the books, but have a negative cash flow. This is because invoices in account receivables show as earned income, but that does very little good until the payments are received. You need incoming cash to pay the bills and the salaries.

There are several financial strategies that can be implement that will keep your expenses in check. In Part 1, we covered 4 key strategies your engineering company can utilize to trim costs without touching your core business.

Key 1: Recording Your Expenses
Key 2: Using the Internet over the Postal Service
Key 3: Making use of Telecommuting
Key 4: Negotiate better Lease Terms and Rates

In this article we are addressing one more key financial strategy for reducing expenses; the location of the business. The location of the business is important for the flexibility of the business to adjust to the expansion and contraction of the workload. The more flexible the more likely the business can make adjustment depending on the economic conditions.

Key 5: Office Location - Depending on the size of your business certain locations are more suited. Trying to operate a business with gross annual revenue of $300,000 from a 4,000 square foot building may not be appropriate. There are many different locations to operate an engineering business; home-office, virtual office, executive suites, professional office space, or an office building. Each has their advantages and disadvantages.

Home-Office - If you company is very small and you are able to obtain a business license for a home office, it can be a very good way to keep your expenses low. Obviously there are no leasing expenses and the space used is usually tax deductible. Check with your city or government agency to make sure they will allow a business in your home. You will need to obtain a business license in order to render any professional services. In most cases professional services entrepreneurs can obtain a license to operate out of their home, since clients will not be at the office or large delivers of supplies will not be showing-up at the front door every day and disrupting the neighborhood.

But the question always arises when someone should leave the home office and open a business in a commercial building. This really depends on the revenues one is able to generate and whether one has outgrown their available space. The best answer is probably to stay in your home as long as possible to keep the over-head expdnses as low as possible. Initially, a professional license alone may be sufficient to grow the client list and establish enough revenue to operate the business. The disadvantage to the home office is that clients when visiting your office will not consider it as a real business, and may question the credibility of the firm.

Virtual Offices - These companies literally lease a space on the wall. The physical presence of the company is actually somewhere else. The basic package is nothing more than an address, a place to hang the business license, and mail service. Usually the business that lease virtual offices also offer additional services to the basic package such as phone service, fax service, community office, community conference rooms, and so on. This type of service is meant to be for a short period of time, but in some cases can be a more permanent situation. Leases are usually month to month. Again, the disadvantage to a virtual office is that clients when visiting your office may not believe that your community office or conference room is a real business, and may question the credibility of the firm.

Executive Suites - A business that leases out individual offices with common uses such as rest rooms, break areas, lounges, conference rooms, spare office, mail service, parking, custodial service, secretarial staff, and phone answering service. In addition, the lease may also include the utility bills and phone book ad service. There are some major advantages to executive suites. First, you have a real commercial address, which adds credibility to the company. Clients can meet you in your office or in a conference room. Most lease agreements are for a fairly short period of time usually one to three months, which has an advantage if the business does not do well and you need to move or terminate the lease. Disadvantage executive suite leases are higher than a traditional office space, usually two to three times per square foot. When it comes time to expand your business to include additional office space for new staff, the executive suite option may not be attractive any longer. Also if you move the business to another executive suite complex or an office space, you may loss your company phone and fax numbers. To overcome this scenario try to find a building that has both executive suites and traditional offices for lease. Then when it comes time to expand you can move the business to a different location in the building and possibly maintain the address, and phone and fax numbers.

Professional Office Space - If your company significantly grows to a size were the executive suite services are no longer economical, then it may be time for leasing a portion or all of an office building. The lease per square foot are usually low, put all of the services the executive suites provides, including the utilities, your company will now have to obtain. The leases for office buildings are also much longer; usually three years or longer. Make sure that the client base is sufficient and the market conditions are right to maintain a lease that long. The disadvantages to a professional office space is that if business drastically slows down, the property managers may not be willing to renegotiate the lease and will hold you responsible for the full term of the lease. To avoid this scenario try to lease the facilities with a clause that will let you sub-lease the property. The ability to lease a portion of your office space if the need arises may save your company.

Professional Office Building - For a large firm can either lease or purchase a professional office building. Owning the building maybe a better option than leasing. During a recession commercial buildings are sometimes priced well below the cost to build a building. Obviously the business is responsible for the mortgage, but the company can lease unused portions of the building to create additional revenues. If the market is performing poorly and the engineering company is unable to attract sufficient amount of new contracts it can lease a greater portion or all of the building. There are disadvantages to owning an office building such as a possible mortgage, property taxes, insurance, but there are plenty of advantages.

Brown School of Engineering Receives $19.5 Million in Gifts; Will Add Three New Faculty

At its regular winter meeting on Saturday, February 11, 2012, the Corporation of Brown University announced that it had accepted a number of gifts, of which $19.5 million had been designated for the School of Engineering. Included among the gifts was a gift from anonymous donors of $10 million, of which $9 million is for three endowed professorships in the School of Engineering. In addition, there was a gift from an anonymous trustee of the Corporation of $10 million for the School of Engineering, and a gift from an anonymous donor of $1.5 million, of which $500,000 is for the Engineering Dean’s Discretionary Fund.

“This is a fantastic start on our long-term vision of building a great School of Engineering here at Brown,” said Dean Larry Larson. “We will keep working hard on further fundraising efforts, and I expect more good news in the future. We have the great efforts of the University Advancement team,  Provost Schlissel and President Simmons to thank for these transformational gifts.”

In addition, the Corporation announced that growth of the School of Engineering, formally established in 2010, continues as a high priority for the University. Plans for the next five to 10 years call for increased revenues from sponsored research, fundraising, graduate programs at the master’s degree level, and corporate partnerships. For fiscal year 2013, the Corporation has allocated funds to recruit three new faculty and to add technical staff.

As part of the University’s effort to develop the School of Engineering, the Corporation approved a new position in the Technology Ventures office within the Office of the Vice President for Research. That position will focus on patents and technology transfer activities related to engineering.

School of Engineering Hosts First Annual Networking and Career Fair

On Saturday, February 4, the School of Engineering hosted its first annual networking and career fair at Barus and Holley. More than 100 students and over 20 alumni representing more than 15 different companies gathered together for a full-day of panel sessions, presentations, and workshops.

The Engineering Career Fair underscored the incredible availability of Brown alums who want to connect with current Brown students,” said Beverly Ehrich, career advisor at Brown’s CareerLab. “They answered student questions about their companies and their career paths. Throughout the day alumni were ready to give advice about internships and job options, and encouraged follow up conversations. Brown alums are an incomparable resource for engineering students who want to develop contacts in their career field and explore careers.

After a welcome from Dean Larry Larson, Assistant Professor (Research) John Simeral gave a plenary talk, “Engineering the BrainGate Neural Interface System at Brown” which provided both students and alumni an insight into the cutting-edge research that the Brown Institute for Brain Science is working on and the incredible progress they have already made.

The day continued with two alumni panel sessions. The first featured advice on finding a job and included Chris Moynihan ’11 (Google), Madeleine Sheehan ’11 (Analog Devices), and Caitlin Ashley-Rollman ’09 ScM’10 (Microsoft).
“I definitely thought the career fair was worthwhile and thought that the panel of recent graduates was particularly interesting,” said biomedical engineering concentrator Courtney Mazur ’13.

That was followed by another alumni panel session that included James Truman ’02, Hector Inirio ’10, and Theo Doucakis ’96 ScM’00. This lively session, “If I Knew Then What I Know Now” provided a chance for the alumni to give some practical, real world advice to the undergraduates and again allowed the students the opportunity to ask the panelists questions.

After that, several alumni gave brief presentations on their companies and their current positions. Included among the presenters were: Melissa Loureiro ’07 ScM’08 (Hamilton Sundstrand), Adam Greenbaum ’08 ScM’09 (Draper Labs), David Perlmutter ’09, Chris Coleman ’11 (Oracle), Chris Hoffman ’09 (DPR Construction), Nick Sarro ’08 (DPR Contruction), Nick Vina ’10 (DPR Construction), Lorenzo Majno ’79, ScM’81 (Instron), and Dave Durfee ’80 ScM’87 PhD’92 (Bay Computer Associates).

Following an afternoon break, there was a chance for students and alumni to interact one-on-one. Each company set up a table and students were able to network with the alumni and talk about job and internship opportunities at each company.    

“The first annual career fair was a success,” said Professor Karen Haberstroh ’95. “It proved to be an excellent opportunity for current engineering students and faculty to network with alums - both in terms of internship and job placement possibilities, but also as a mechanism for reconnecting engineering alums with the new School of Engineering.” 

Following the networking opportunities, students were able to participate in two workshops. Ehrich led a workshop on technical interviewing with assistance from recent alumni, while Durfee led resume workshop.

“The career fair did a great job at fulfilling its designed purpose of connecting students with employers,” said Durfee. “But, in addition, I personally really enjoyed reconnecting with the alumni and could tell that they enjoyed sharing their time (and a meal) together with the students and faculty.”

Brown Professor Kyung-Suk Kim PhD’80 to Receive 2012 Engineering Science Medal from SES

Brown University School of Engineering Professor Kyung-Suk Kim PhD ’80 will receive the 2012 Engineering Science Medal from the Society of Engineering Science (SES). The prize is awarded in recognition of a singularly important contribution to engineering science. Professor Kim will receive his award during the 49th Annual Technical Meeting of the Society of Engineering Science to be held at Georgia Institute of Technology from October 9-12, 2012. The Society of Engineering Science has only awarded the Engineering Science Medal eight previous times since its inception in 1987.

“This is a tremendous and well-deserved honor for Professor Kim,” said Dean Larry Larson. “As both a Brown Engineering alumnus and professor we are extremely proud of his accomplishments and look forward to his continued contributions to the field.”

Professor Kim receives the prize for his singularly important contributions to experimental micro and nano-mechanics. These include his inventions of transverse displacement interferometer for high strain rate combined normal and shearing load, stress intensity tracer for time dependent fracture testing, Moiré interferometry for finite displacement measurement at the micro and nano-length scales, field projection methods to extract cohesive laws, residual stress measurements via chemical etching, high resolution TEM analysis to extract near atomic resolution constitutive laws and extension of the AFM range to measure the size scaling in contact and adhesion.

Professor Kim received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Seoul National University of Korea in 1974 and 1976, respectively, and his Ph.D. from Brown University in 1980.  He worked on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1980-1989 before returning to Brown as Professor of Engineering in 1989. He is currently the director of Nano and Micromechanics Laboratory in the Mechanics of Solids and Structures Group in the School of Engineering at Brown University.

About the Society of Engineering Science
Founded in 1963, the Society of Engineering Science (SES) was established to promote the free exchange of information on all aspects of engineering science and to provide a forum for discussion, education, and recognition of the talents of the engineering science community. Since its founding in 1963, the SES has established its reputation as the most vibrant and relevant technical society to promote the field of engineering science, where science and engineering meet. The annual technical meetings organized by SES bring leading engineers, scientists and mathematicians from around the world together to tackle some of the most challenging problems at the interface between engineering, sciences and mathematics.

Brown Professor Huajian Gao Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Huajian Gao, Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Engineering at Brown University, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Gao, honored for contributions to micromechanics of thin films and hierarchically structured materials, is one of 66 new members and 10 foreign associates elected, and is one of just 2,254 U.S. members and 206 foreign associates in the NAE.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature," and to the "pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."

Professor Gao becomes the fifth member of the Brown School of Engineering faculty to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He joins Rush C. Hawkins University Professor Rod Clifton (elected 1989), Professor Emeritus L.B. Freund (elected 1994), Professor Emeritus Alan Needleman (elected 2000), and Vice President for Research and Otis Randall University Professor Clyde Briant (elected 2010).

"This is a spectacular professional achievement for Professor Gao and we are extremely happy for him," said Dean Larry Larson. "To have five members of the National Academy within a faculty of 40 also underscores the strength and level of accomplishment of our faculty here at Brown.”

Professor Gao received his B.S. degree from Xian Jiaotong University of China in 1982, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in engineering science from Harvard University in 1984 and 1988, respectively. He served on the faculty of Stanford University between 1988 and 2002, where he was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1994 and to full professor in 2000. He was appointed as Director and Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart, Germany between 2001 and 2006. He joined Brown University in 2006. Professor Gao has a background in applied mechanics and engineering science. He has more than 25 years of research experience and more than 300 publications to his credit.

Professor Gao’s research group is generally interested in understanding the basic principles that control mechanical properties and behaviors of both engineering and biological systems. His current research includes studies of how metallic and semiconductor materials behave in thin film and nanocrystalline forms, and how biological materials such as bones, geckos, and cells achieve their mechanical robustness through structural hierarchy.

Brown Engineering Alumna Jeanie Ward-Waller ’04 Bicycling Across the Country for Safe Routes

Jeanie Ward-Waller ’04, a Brown University civil engineering alumna, is bicycling across the country as part of an advocacy campaign to raise awareness for safe routes. Her journey began on February 5 in Key West and will cover approximately 5,500 miles and take three months before concluding in San Francisco on April 28.

Ward-Waller, 29, who organized the trip, will be riding with her mother, 60-year physican Dr. Jane Ward, her 22-year old sister Chelsea Ward-Waller, and 26-year old friend Stephanie Palmer. These four women will be promoting the critical need for bike- and pedestrian-friendly streets in the sustainable communities of the future through public events in the 30 cities along their route.

They will also be meeting with local bicycle advocates along the way to combine efforts to raise awareness for bike safety in their local communities. In addition, they are fundraising for the League of American Bicyclists and Safe Routes to School National Partnership, two non-profits working for bike-friendly communities nationwide. For more information, or to follow their journey, please go to their website at or follow them on Twitter @Ride4SafeRoutes

Jeanie Ward-Waller is a civil engineer currently based in Washington, D.C. She recently completed a master’s degree in engineering for sustainable development with a thesis investigating methods to promote higher rates of cycling in US cities. Also passionate about getting kids outdoors and active, she took a break from engineering in 2011 to teach environmental education at the Mountain Institute in the mountains of West Virginia and to teach rock climbing in the D.C. area. A 2-time Ironman triathlete, she has spent countless hours in the saddle on unsafe and unfriendly roads, growing increasingly frenetic about making roads safe for all cyclists.

Professor Kyung-Suk Kim melds engineering with history and humanities

“The West had William Tell and the East had Yang Man-Choon in Korea”

When Kyung-Suk Kim, a renowned Korean-American scientist and professor of mechanical engineering at Brown University, says this in his class Dynamics and Vibrations, a required course for engineering students, students are generally puzzled.

Yang was the legendary lord of Ansi Castle in Korea’s ancient dynasty of Goguryeo. He has been known to hit Emperor Taizong of the Chinese Tang Dynasty with an arrow in 645 A.D., when Tang invaded Goguryeo.

Kim`s students, however, pay attention to his lecture that combines history with physics and mechanical engineering if he says, “I will explain the principle of bow’s operations in a mechanical engineering point of view. The Korean bow is considered to be the best in the world from an engineering perspective, which you can confirm through experiments.”

Since 1989, Kim has taught mechanical engineering at Brown University, a prestigious Ivy League university in the U.S., with a laboratory text he wrote himself. More than 1,000 students have attended his lectures and 25 students have completed doctoral and postdoctoral studies under his advising over the years. Indeed, Kim has played the role of missionary for the promotion of Korea`s scientific excellence in its culture.

Speaking to the Dong-A Ilbo, a Korean news paper, over the phone Sunday, he said, “In the early 1990s, Brown University suggested me to develop a laboratory for engineering students that reflects some aspects of humanities and history. So I began working on developing such laboratory courses that bring in scientific excellence of Korean culture.”

Through experiments, Kim and his students have unveiled the secret of an ancient Korean bow that flies arrows up to nearly 1 kilometer, twice and three times the range of British and Japanese bows, though the bowstring is just 120 centimeters, shorter than Britain`s (180 centimeters) and Japan’s (2 meters). Kim showed that the Korean bow has a thrust of double pushes while launched, analogous to the thrust of a two-staged rocket.

Many had thought Korean bowstrings too short since Koreans have small frames. Kim, however, said the short bowstring creates great impellent power by the double-push mechanism and Korean bows bend to increase such power.

After completing graduate studies at Seoul National University, Kim went to the U.S. in 1976 for his PhD. He joined the Brown faculty in 1989 as a full professor. As the Director of the Nano and Micro Mechanics Laboratory at Brown, he received world attention last year with an article on the principle of precisely cutting carbon nano tubes using ultrasonic waves, written jointly with his collaborators at the Korean Institute of Science and Technology. The article was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, London.

- Courtesy of the Dong-A Ilbo (Korea)

Science - Space Shuttle, NASA's Gamble on Safe Re-Entry at 3000 F (30,000 Tiles, $10K Each!)

Whereas the concept for shielding astronauts and their space vehicles from the extremes of reentry heat for the first vehicles in space, Mercury and Apollo, was "overkill" assurance, an excess of ablatable fiberglass and resin to insure safety - for the envisaged Space Transportation System, the designation "Space Shuttle" described the objective - a quick turnaround, with minimum refurbishment of primary subsystems. To insulate the Orbiter from the searing heat of reentry, the idealized solution is a "vacuum", which blocks all heat transference. The vacuum would be encased in a thin glass-wall box-like container - internal stabilization support of the thin, flat glass surfaces would be by quartz filaments (non-thermally conductive and light in weight) "scrunched" into the glass "box", which would then be vacuumized and sealed. Idealizing again, this "package" (tile - containing all functioning elements to achieve optimized thermal insulation) would be as thin as practical (and small in horizontal dimensions). This would accommodate Orbiter surface curvatures - necessary to achieve an overall aerodynamic shape so as to "fly" during the landing phase of a mission. Finally, the tile would be bonded (the cool - insulated bottom) to the vehicle's basic aluminum structure.

To achieve the insulation properties desired, vacuum processing would be essential (actually, a double vacuum became part of the production manufacturing process, developed by NASA and Lockheed Corporation). As every aspect theoretically feasible, the challenge was the smallest practical tile size that was producible in volume. The standard black (high-temperature-exposure) tile is extremely light, six by six inches in size and about an inch and three-quarters in height. The tiles are bonded to the Orbiter structure by standard RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanizing) adhesive.

Square and close-fitting to eliminate even narrow gaps between tiles, thus to preclude pockets of heated air, quartz-fabric "gap-fillers" are stuffed between tiles - a painstakingly tedious job. There are 30,000 black tiles (seen in all photos of a Space Shuttle). The end result was clearly worth the effort - including the monumental cost. The TPS tile system has proved its reliability, taming reentry heat (temperatures of from 2200 to 3000 degrees Fahrenheit).

The reentry heat develops from the compression of atmospheric gas caused by the Orbiter's speed, as it descends from the vacuum of outer space - it is not the result of friction. As the Orbiter speeds down (18,000 mph) into Earth's atmosphere, air molecules are impacted by the Orbiter, causing tiny pulses of heat and drag; this causes wing leading-edge temperatures to rise to from 2200°F to 3000°F (depending upon reentry angle) - during approximately a six minute speed-altitude transition period, and gradually slows the Orbiter down, eventually reaching ground level and landing speeds of a typical aircraft.

The TPS system made the Space Shuttle program possible.

The voice over the loudspeaker was concluding, "So congratulations to all of us on the Shuttle team, STS-2 appears to have been a great success, and - ", Another voice abruptly cut in, "Rockwell Space, Will Mr. (my name) please call Moser (my NASA counterpart) at the Cape."

At mention of my name, I rose from the conference table, looking at my boss, Chief Engineer, and his boss, president of Rockwell Space Division. The president signaled me, then pointed to the door to his office, which was open, his secretary standing in the doorway. She nodded to me and pointed to a phone. I made the call, the operator at the Cape was waiting, and promptly connected me. Our greetings were terse - Moser spoke for about five minutes, I asked a few questions. Then he said, "Cris Kraft is at Edwards, he wants you to drive up now, maybe we can get a head-start on what happened before they ferry Columbia back to the Cape." I said I'd be up at Edwards (Air Force Base) in about two hours.

Back in the conference room, I summarized the call, "Some tile damage was noted on the walk-around-inspection after landing. No indication of a TPS malfunction during reentry, but the tile damage looks unusual - Dr. Kraft (Director, Johnson Space Center at Houston) is up there - they want me to drive up now." The Chief Engineer nodded. "My secretary will call your wife."

I drove automatically, knowing well the freeway route - my mind reviewing what I'd been told. NASA had taken pictures of the damaged tiles on the walk-around - NASA wanted a knowledgeable "eyeball" look before the ferry flight home. The damage looked like chunks of the tile's insides, an inch or two, was missing. And all such damaged tiles seemed to be along the left wing leading edge, at varying distances apart. There was also other typical tile damage, the pits and break-throughs of the thin black glass, as after the STS-1 flight - undoubtedly due to stray bits of gravel, churned up from the concrete launch pad (despite careful vacuuming before each flight). The number of damaged tiles was apparently not too worrisome - however, anything untoward about tiles (Thermal Protective System) had to be thoroughly understood. The cost of the TPS was almost unbelievable, but their function, protecting against fiery reentry, as well as their compactness, permitting the Orbiter to function like an airplane - was what made viable the potential of the Space Shuttle program.

As I drove, I thought of Dr. Chris Kraft and the near-disaster of Apollo 13. His was the voice of calm authority that had buoyed up America and the desperate astronauts aboard, during the hectic days when no-one knew whether the damaged capsule could be "jerry-rigged" for a safe return to Earth. There was a degree of satisfaction in his asking for me - but then NASA had given me the chore of presenting the TPS briefings at all NASA Flight Readiness Reviews for two years. As Assistant Chief Engineer, my responsibility was the Orbiter vehicle structure, everything but the engines and electronic systems: Design, Stress, Aero, Thermo, Dynamics, Weights, and Materials and Processes, which included the tiles.

I turned into Edwards Air Force Base, parked my car, then saw a jeep speeding towards me. The driver was an engineer I recognized, and a security guard. I climbed in and we took off. The Orbiter was where it had landed, roped off, with a half-dozen security people standing guard. I got out of the jeep and walked quickly to it. The sun was bright and I quickly saw what had been described, the line of damaged tiles - six by six inches of pure white, the compressed quartz fibers looking like Styrofoam - in the midst of solid arrays of black tiles.

"So, what do you think?" The voice was familiar. I turned and said, "Hi, Dr. Kraft" We shook hands.

"Never saw anything like it," I said, "nothing like it in all our tests - it's as if a chunk of the quartz filaments broke away from the inside." The engineer handed me a set of photos of the damaged tiles. Together we walked along the wing, then ducked under the ropes to look beneath the wing-fuselage - an almost flat, huge expanse of solid black, not a single damaged tile. As we walked around the vehicle seeing whatever else looked unusual, Dr. Kraft said, "We've got to make an official report to the Administrator, Congress and the press, but I want an engineering analysis first. Send us a top tile engineer to be at the Cape day after tomorrow - we'll get a NASA man also, then, plus you and Moser, I want an internal layout of possible causes in a week."

That's what happened. The investigation became a "detective" scenario, puzzling out clues, conjecturing what could have happened, verification by test. A key factor was the photos of the Shuttle on the launch pad with its adjacent work platform - the night before launch, as a rainstorm drenched platform and Shuttle.

A week later, a briefing was given to the NASA Base Directors and Administrator:

  • The rainstorm was from a direction which caused a platform on the work-assembly structure to spill overflowing rain-water onto the left wing - Columbia standing vertically in the launch mode. Rainwater, therefore, would have run along the leading edge of the left wing.
  • Occasionally hairline cracks were known to develop through the thin glass outer (black) coating of the tiles: either during manufacture; during the bonding process of attaching each tile to the airframe structure; when stuffing "gap-fillers"; or possibly even during the prior STS-1 flight (close packing of tiles causing occasional excess pressure on the thin glass walls during the vibration of landing).
  • If, therefore, some of the running rainwater encountered a tile with a hairline crack - during the rainy night, some water therefore entered the tile.
  • During the flight mission, the left wing was pointed to deep outer space for many hours, the temperatures of the wing tiles therefore dropping to extremely low values, approaching absolute zero. Water in a tile would therefore hard-freeze into ice, becoming a clump of filamentary quartz - as the ice formed from liquid water, the volumetric expansion would cause internal pressure to be exerted upon the encasing of thin glass.
  • The ice-filamentary clump could therefore crack the glass casing and be ejected from the tile - occurring during one of the following events: upon freezing due to the significant volumetric expansion from fluid to ice; during reentry, when the ice began to melt, becoming a gas, the drastic volume increase bursting the glass casing; when the vehicle went through the sonic boom, the surface jolt of air pressure causing any remaining chunk of solidified filaments to be ejected from the top of the tile; or when the vehicle landed, the vibration shaking any remaining ice-quartz chunks loose.
  • Conclusion: this unusual set of circumstances caused unique damage to a small number of tiles - however, the "thermal protection" function was not compromised, in fact the continued functionality of the damaged tiles adds confidence to the reliability of the overall STS program.
  • Recommendation: when rain precedes a launch, a tarpaulin should be used to protect the tiles.

Aaron Kolom qualifies as a "rocket scientist" with over 50 years aerospace engineering: Stress Analyst to Chief of Structural Sciences on numerous military aircraft, to Corp. Director Structures and Materials, Asst. Chief Engineer Space Shuttle Program through first three flights (awarded NASA Public Service Medal), Rockwell International Corp.; Program Manager Concorde SST, VP Engineering TRE Corp.; Aerospace Consultant.

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