United Space Alliance - David Hermanson - Industrial & Human Engineering; Launch Ops Safety I&HE

With a successful 20-year career in support of Space Shuttle operations at Kennedy Space Center under his belt, David Hermanson Jr. launched a “second” career at KSC that has taken him into the fascinating field of Industrial Engineering and Human Factors.

Hermanson came to KSC only two months after graduating from Astronaut High School in Titusville in 1979. He was hired as a Shuttle Systems Mechanical Technician, a position he would hold for nine years. During that time, he worked at Pad-A in Launch Operations as an original team member of the Payloads group. As such, he loaded the Space Shuttle with such famous payloads as the Hubble Space Telescope, Galileo and Ulysses.

In 1987, Hermanson was promoted to Lead Technician in support of Shuttle processing at Pad A, a position he would hold for more than 10 years. Then, in 1999, Hermanson decided, it was time for a new career.

“With my 20 years of hands-on experience, I was fortunate enough to be accepted to United Space Alliance’s Industrial Engineering group,” he said. “Now I get to work all the areas of KSC. “

As part of the Industrial Engineering and Human Factors group, Hermanson specializes in improving processes and arriving at the safest and most effective solutions. He has been on several investigations and has also become a Certified Fact Finder. In addition, David is in the process of attaining his Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification.

After the tragic loss of Space Shuttle Columbia, David was sent to Texas as a member of the Columbia recovery team.

“It was something to see so many different organizations working together to gather pieces of the mystery so NASA could find and fix the problem and get the Shuttle Fleet back into space,” Hermanson said. “I will never forget that time in my life.”

Hermanson’s talents have been greatly appreciated by the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program and the small businesses that approach SATOP for help.

“David is a great asset to SATOP because of his vast experience and his ability to think outside the box. This allows him to come up with simple, yet ingenious solutions in a matter of hours,” said Chris Gilfriche, SATOP Florida senior program engineer.

As an example, Gilfriche cited the uncomplicated solution Hermanson provided to an aquaculture company that wanted to decrease fish mortality during shipping. Although the fish were carefully packaged in polypropylene bags with ample oxygen and water, in some cases oxygen leaked out, the bags deflated, and the fish suffered the consequences.

Hermanson’s solution? Turn the bags upside down, with the sealed side down. Because water is denser than oxygen, no oxygen could leak out.

“Sometimes the simplest solution really is the best,” he said.

One-on-One with David Hermanson, Jr.

What job you would have had if you had not become an engineer and why?
Actually, for 20 years I was a Payload Pad Mechanical Technician, not an engineer. Five years ago I was accepted to USA’s Industrial Engineering group.

Do you enjoy any pastimes not related to engineering?
I like photography, playing golf, boating, island camping and spending lots of relaxing time with family and friends.

Engineering project you wish you could have worked on:
The “Return To Flight” direct causes of Columbia’s mishap related issues would have been an awesome project to be part of. I am currently part of a couple RTF access issues.

Personal accomplishment(s) of which you are most proud:
In 1999 our Operator Certification Team won the team of the year award (SARA) and that was very gratifying. Then last year, I received NASA’s Space Flight Awareness Honoree award, which was really a great honor.

What do you enjoy most about being a SATOP volunteer?
The SATOP requestors have done everything they could to fix their issues prior to calling SATOP, then I get to have the opportunity at fixing their proble