An important element among the NASA mechanisms for promoting technology transfer is the Technology Transfer Officer, or TTO. TTOs are technology transfer experts based at each of NASA's 10 field centers and one specialized facility who serve as regional managers for the Technology Transfer Program.
Representative of the group is Jim Aliberti, TTO at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), shown below with KSC associate Dan Culbertson. At KSC, the TTO is part of a larger office known as the Technology Programs and Commercialization Office, or DE-TPO. The TTO in this instance is known officially as Head of Technology Transfer and Commercialization.
The TTO's basic responsibility is to stay abreast of research and development activities at his center that have significant potential for generating transferrable knowledge. He assures thatthe center's professional people identify, document and report new technology developed in the center's laboratories and, together with other center personnel, he monitors the center's contracts to see that NASA contractors similarly document and report new technology, as required by law. This technology, whether developed in-house or by contractors, becomes part of the NASA bank of technology available for transfer.
To advise potential users of the technology's availability, the TTO evaluates and processes selected new technology reports for announcement in NASA publications and other dissemination media.
A KSC mechanism for announcing developments with commercial potential is the "Technology Opportunity," a single page flyer con- taining a description and photo of a technology developed initially for KSC's use, and an invitation to private sector firms to transfer the technology to the commercial marketplace by licensing, technical consultation, cooperative development with NASA, or development, manufacture and marketing by the company.
An example is the Surface Defect Analyzer shown at left. It was developed by KSC as an alternative method for in-field evaluation of surface flaws, defects and damage on critical surfaces of the Space Shuttle and its ground support equipment. The Technology Opportunity sought a contractor to refine the technology and broaden the system's capabilities for possible applications in medicine and dentistry, laboratories, and the aerospace, automotive, precision tooling and appliance manufacturing industries.
Other examples include the Hydrogen Fire Detector Calibration Unit (below), commercially applicable as a device for ensuring confidence in ultraviolet flame detectors used on oil rigs, in refineries, aircraft hangars, etc. to detect hydrogen flames; and the Turbine Brush Pipe Cleaner (top), which offers enhanced cleaning action and possible elimina-tion of chlorofluorocarbons in such applications as maintenance of water supply lines, cleaning dairy lines, controlling corrosion in steam lines, and in-service cleaning of food processing and pharmaceutical equipment.
The TTO helps promote technology transfer internally at his center and to the public in general, particularly to businesses that might be able to use NASA technology productively. At KSC and other centers, this is accomplished by notices through print and electronic media, and by showcasing selected technologies at seminars, conferences and symposia. Above, KSC's Dave Makufka mans a technology transfer booth at the 1995 Space Congress in Cocoa Beach, Florida.