Bob Porter, Ph.D., addressed more than 40 NASA key executives during their Annual Executive Summit held at Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The address focused on ways to help transform NASA’s current culture of government funded innovation to one that meets the needs of commercial space flight opportunities. His 90 minute address was titled “Doing the Right Thing: When we Left Oz.” According to Porter, the reference to Oz was used to highlight the contrast between the typical outsider’s view of NASA as a mysterious scientist, like the Wizard of Oz, versus the ordinary commercial space exploration industry which could be represented by someone from Kansas.
In preparation for the address, he was given access to operations at KSC by way of in-depth behind the scenes tour of NASA operations. The tour was led by Jon Cowart, a long term NASA employee now heading the Commercial Crew Program. Porter noted that one of the highlights of the tour was getting inside the Vehicle Assembly Building and seeing the Space Shuttle Atlantis up-close before it was rolled out for public view. He was also given access to the Space-X launch site and assembly operations of the next Falcon 9 program. Space-X is a commercial space program founded by Elon Musk, who founded Paypal and the electric car company, Tesla.
While Porter teaches in the College of Business Administration, he is a graduate of UCF’s engineering program.
“UCF’s College of Engineering enjoys a strong relationship with NASA. My 20 plus years of engineering work helped me understand the situation that NASA finds itself in. My work in developing strategy for technology based companies, and my work with the College of Business Administration provides a strong connection between NASA and UCF. It is clear that NASA is comprised of brilliant individuals who have contributed immensely in a broad-spectrum of technology areas. NASA faces many challenges and they are committed to meet them,” he said.
After the presentation he spent time with KSC’s Director, Bob Cabana, a four time shuttle astronaut and graduate of the US Naval Academy. He noted that Cabana enjoyed the keynote address, found it to be on target and thought-provoking, and he asked personally Porter to come back and help with future strategic planning sessions. Porter was recently recognized by NASA with a letter of appreciation for his keynote address. He also has been contacted by two other NASA locations to assist them with their strategic planning and technology decisions.