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Ohio State engineers support space exploration through research and career choices


John Horack knows space. His career in spaceflight stretches beyond 30 years - most of which were spent at NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. His experience is particularly helpful as the Department of Materials Science and Engineering continues to engage in new projects with NASA.

Horack Courtright Evans Choi Ohio State welding engineering NASA Marshall
From left to right: Dr. John Horack and Buckeye Welding Engineering alumni Zachary Courtright ('15, '17), Will Evans ('17, '19), and Eugene Choi ('23) on July 7 in Huntsville, Alabama.
credit: John Horack

Professors and students in the Welding Engineering Program are part of a multi-disciplinary team developing modeling methodology for NASA so welding in space can be conducted without costly, challenging experiments. The purpose of the project “Integration and Demonstration of Self-contained Laser Welding System for Microgravity Experiments” is to unveil key elements of processes and materials' behavior when exposed to extreme conditions. The methodology created by the Buckeye contingent could lead to novel materials and manufacturing processes specific to space environments. Read more about their research at Demand for manufacturing in space provides out-of-this-world opportunities for Buckeye engineers and scientists (May 2023).

Horack is instrumental in implementing the welding-in-space collaboration that Ohio State has with NASA's George C. Marshall Space Flight Center. He works closely with Ohio State welding engineering professors and co-PIs Antonio Ramirez and Boyd Panton while maintaining other NASA-Ohio State initiatives.

During a recent visit to NASA/Marshall, Horack caught up with welding engineering alumni. Eugene Choi worked on the welding-in-space project throughout his final year as an undergraduate welding engineering student and is currently an intern at NASA/Marshall. He graduated in spring 2023 and will return to Ohio State this autumn to begin working on his M.S. Welding Engineering. Zachary Courtright ('15, '17) is an In-Space Manufacturing Portfolio Manager and Will Evans ('17, '19) is an AST, Welding Engineer. Both are employed by NASA/Marshall.

I was at NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama for a visit related to a.) materials / manufacturing research in the context of spaceflight, b.) Nuclear Thermal Propulsion work we do for NASA/Marshall, and c.) Payload/Mission Operations and Materials/Manufacturing visits as part of the Starlab/George Washington Carver Science Park program on which Ohio State is the collaboration’s lead university.

Dr. John Horack

Horack came to Ohio State in 2016 and is the Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace Policy. He has a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

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