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Atmosphere of Freedom: Sixty Years at the NASA Ames Research CenterThroughout Ames History, four themes prevail: a commitment to hiring the best people; cutting-edge research tools; project management that gets things done faster, better and cheaper; and outstanding research efforts that serve the scientific professions and the nation. More than any other NASA Center, Ames remains shaped by its origins in the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics). Not that its missions remain the same. Sure, Ames still houses the world's greatest collection of wind tunnels and simulation facilities, its aerodynamicists remain among the best in the world, and pilots and engineers still come for advice on how to build better aircraft. But that is increasingly part of Ames' past. Ames people have embraced two other missions for its future. First, intelligent systems and information science will help NASA use new tools in supercomputing, networking, telepresence and robotics. Second, astrobiology will explore lore the prospects for life on Earth and beyond. Both new missions leverage Ames long-standing expertise in computation and in the life sciences, as well as its relations with the computing and biotechnology firms working in the Silicon Valley community that has sprung up around the Center. Rather than the NACA missions, it is the NACA culture that still permeates Ames. The Ames way of research management privileges the scientists and engineers working in the laboratories. They work in an atmosphere of freedom, laced with the expectation of integrity and responsibility. Ames researchers are free to define their research goals and define how they contribute to the national good. They are expected to keep their fingers on the pulse of their disciplines, to be ambitious yet frugal in organizing their efforts, and to always test their theories in the laboratory or in the field. Ames' leadership ranks, traditionally, are cultivated within this scientific community. Rather than manage and supervise these researchers, Ames leadership merely guided them, represents them to NASA headquarters and the world outside, then steps out of the way before they get run over.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Document Type
Bugos, Glenn E.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Launius, Roger
Date Acquired
September 7, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2000
Publication Information
ISBN: 0-9645537-2-4
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
NAS 1.21:4314
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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