To promote technology transfer, NASA operates a number of user assistance centers whose job is to provide information retrieval services and technical help to industrial and government users.

Intended to meet the technological needs of American industry and boost U.S. international competitiveness, the National Technology Transfer Network is composed of a National Technology Transfer Center and six Regional Technology Transfer Centers (RTTCs). The RTTCs are geographically located to provide an equal distribution of services throughout the country. The regional deployment of the centers and their alignment with the Federal Laboratory Consortium allows the RTTCs to work closely with federal, state and local programs in serving the technology related needs of business and industry. The RTTCs provide value-added services to meet the needs of clients, including

* Information services: computerized searches of federal technology databases and other technology sources.

* Technical services: assessment of technology requirements, analysis of technology applications, and engineering reports.

* Commercialization services: technology brokering, business analyses and venture capital sourcing.

Other elements of the National Technology Transfer Network include:

* Federal agency technology transfer programs and activities.

*State and local agencies and their programs, such as technology centers and business/technical assistance centers.

* Business and industry consortia, associations and communities. The photo at left illustrates an effective way in which the RTTCs seek out contacts in the business community, through booth contacts at trade shows.

A typical RTTC provides a wide range of technology management services, including information retrieval (above), technical analyses and assessments, market intelligence, product enhancement and applications development. The center conducts searches in a wide variety of commercially available government and proprietary databases to provide information on state-of-the-art developments in a particular field, individuals and organizations conducting relevant R&D, patents and licenses, and technologies that can be redeployed or reengineered to meet a client's needs.

After searching the data-bases, the RTTC investigates noncomputerized sources of materials, such as traditional print information. Experts from NASA field centers, federal laboratories, universities and industrial organizations are contacted to locate additional information.

The RTTCs support NASA's educational objectives by providing teachers access to information generated by NASA programs. The center makes available scientific and technological materials related to research and technological developments in the areas of life sciences, physical science, astronomy, energy, Earth resources, geology, mathematics and astronautics. Above, an RTTC staffer at a Teachers Resource Center helps a teacher search for materials to enliven lesson plans. At left is a sampling of materials available to teachers and other clients of the RTTCs.

The hub of the National Technology Transfer Network is the National Technology Transfer Center (NTTC), located at Wheeling Jesuit College, Wheeling, West Virginia. The NTTC serves as a clearinghouse for federal technology transfer, linking U.S. firms with federal agencies and laboratories, the RTTCs, and state/local agencies.

The center operates, in the interest of enhanced U.S. competitiveness, a"gateway service," toll-free telephone access to a full federal technology database and indexing system. By calling a 1-800 number, U.S. companies can access the federal laboratory system in search of technologies and research data that can assist them in developing their businesses.

The NTTC also provides training and educational services to government and industry to develop the skills essential to effective technology transfer. Additionally, the center conducts outreach and promotional activities to improve private sector awareness of technology transfer opportunities.

One such activity is NTTC's national electronic bulletin service for both the public and the private sectors of the U.S. technology transfer community. The free service includes notices of upcoming technology transfer related meetings, announcements of new technologies, problem query/answer communications, success stories and posting of opportunities.

Support of all the elements of the National Technology Transfer Network is provided by the Technology Transfer Office at the Center for Aero-Space Information (CASI). This office executes a wide variety of tasks, among them maintenance of the subscription list for and mailout of Technical Support Packages n(TSPs), which provide details of new technologies available for more than 70 percent of the listings published in NASA Tech Briefs. The mailout of TSPs involves a reproduction effort of more than 1.8 million pages annually. CASI is also responsible for responding to requests for information, an activity that entails processing of some 40,000 letters and other inquiries and mailout of some 300,000 documents a year. The office additionally serves as a "central call-in" facility, channeling information and technical assistance seekers to the proper NASA technology transfer and commercialization organization or other appropriate agencies. Pictured at left is Walter M. Heiland, manager of the CASI Technology Transfer Office. At left above, technology associate Jennifer Munro is reviewing photographs for the Spinoff publication. At lower left, Mindy Murdza (standing) and Maria Zimmerman are preparing correspondence and above Lenora Parris (standing) and Diane Odachowski are processing TSP packages requested by clients, as are Sharon Jiles and Audrey Skinner below. At right, Kelen White (foreground) and Mary Crum are handling data entries.

The CASI Technology Transfer Office is also responsible for research, analysis and other work associated with this annual Spinoff volume, for distribution of technology transfer publications, for retrieval of technical information and referral of highly detailed technical requests to appropriate offices; for developing reference and biographical data; and for public relations activities connected with media, industry and trade show interest in technology transfer matters and commercialization.