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Released May 3, 2004

SOUTHERN MISS HELPS DESIGN EXPERT
KEEP NASA'S ENGINES RUNNING

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. -- Haynes Haselmaier is an integral part of NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center Propulsion Test Directorate as a design expert and consultant for unique high-pressure valves. And thanks to The University of Southern Mississippi and the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA), he can continue to be that all-important moving part in the propulsion-testing machinery.

For almost 30 years, Haselmaier has met engineering challenges for NASA as either a contractor or subcontractor, working out problems in the rocket propulsion systems that drive America's space program. Over the years, Haselmaier's employer changed as government contracts were awarded to different companies, often limiting his contribution based on that particular contract. About two years ago, NASA and Haselmaier came to Southern Miss for a solution.

Under the IPA, Haselmaier is paid by NASA through Southern Miss for his very specialized expertise. As a Southern Miss employee, Haselmaier has a stable employer with secure benefits and NASA has flexibility in their ability to share Haselmaier's talents among NASA centers or with contractors working for the space agency.

"At Southern Miss, I have a home," said Haselmaier. "My position is stable and it's flexible to my customer."

A very recent example of the payoff for this kind of flexibility is how Haselmaier solved a valve problem that had stymied two test projects at Stennis, one of those supporting the Space Shuttle's return to flight activities.

"Haynes recommended redesign of the valve's thrust washer," said Miguel A. Rodriguez, director of NASA's Propulsion Test Directorate at Stennis. "He coordinated the design change and parts manufacture, supervised the valve build-up, and coordinated and participated in the design verification testing, exhibiting outstanding personal commitment that was critical to the timely resolution of this issue."

"Haynes Haselmaier is an outstanding asset in our organization," Rodriguez said. In fact, Haselmaier received a U. S. patent in April for his seal ring installation tool created on the job at Stennis. Designed to facilitate the installation of a primary seal ring between the hub ends of pipe flanges, the tool provides proper alignment of a seal ring without causing contamination or damage to the components, while eliminating potential injury to the installer.

Dr. Cecil Burge, associate vice president for research and technology transfer at Southern Miss, said he understands the importance of the work IPAs provide for NASA and other governmental agencies located at Stennis Space Center.

"The agencies utilize the IPA for many reasons," Burge said. "Frequently, they have the need to acquire very specialized personnel in a compressed time frame. At other times, the IPA arrangement provides a more managerially efficient and flexible operation. The Stennis (Space) Center complex is a tremendous economic asset for south Mississippi. At Southern Miss, we always try to accommodate our Stennis agencies in any way at our disposal. At the same time, the IPAs broaden the expertise and perspective of our research community."

For Haselmaier, the IPA keeps him on a job he loves. Haselmaier is also excited about the prospect of future research with Southern Miss if the opportunity arises.

"I could see one day replacing some of the older plastics in these valves with new polymers," he said. "If so, we could reach back into that group at Southern Miss for that type of expertise."

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May 5, 2004 4:30 PM

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