President Leath visits Huntsville industry, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center; discusses additive manufacturing efforts

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Auburn University President Steven Leath visited Huntsville on Tuesday to speak to its engineering community and see first-hand Auburn's extensive involvement at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

Kicking off his visit to the Rocket City, Leath spoke to a large group of business and professional leaders at Huntsville's Rotary Club about his priority to increase and strengthen Auburn's research and creative scholarship. He specifically referred to Auburn's efforts in additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, and strategic partnerships established in this field between the university and Huntsville industry and government agencies.

"The rapidly expanding field of advanced manufacturing requires new skill sets, or in other words, a new workforce of highly trained specialists," said Leath. "Auburn is educating and training a growing number of engineers to meet that need—working hand-in-hand with our industry and government partners to ensure they have what they need to bring these technologies out of the lab and into the workforce."

Leath then traveled to Redstone Arsenal, the home of NASA Marshall, to meet with Todd May, center director and graduate of Auburn's materials engineering program. May, who previously served as NASA's manager of the Space Launch System Program, led a tour 221 feet above ground to the top of the test stand that will push the limits of the fuel tanks for the powerful SLS rocket being built to travel to the moon, Mars and beyond. Auburn engineers working in NASA's additive manufacturing center also showed Leath where they are constructing the SLS's flight hardware using innovative 3-D printing technologies.

"Auburn has a long history of partnership with NASA Marshall," said May. "Auburn University alumni have played major and historic roles in NASA missions since the center was established at Redstone Arsenal, and countless research, design and test engineers work for NASA and the aerospace industry in Huntsville."

Collaborations will continue between Auburn and NASA Marshall on additive manufacturing. Leath stated that several new industry partnerships are on the horizon, and the university will continue to expand its research partnership and sphere of engagement with business and industry both in Alabama and across the country.

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