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Knowledge Preservation for Design of Rocket Systems
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Author and Affiliation:
Moreman, Douglas(Southern Univ., Office of Sponsored Programs, Baton Rouge, LA, United States)
Abstract: An engineer at NASA Lewis RC presented a challenge to us at Southern University. Our response to that challenge, stated circa 1993, has evolved into the Knowledge Preservation Project which is here reported. The stated problem was to capture some of the knowledge of retiring NASA engineers and make it useful to younger engineers via computers. We evolved that initial challenge to this - design a system of tools such that, with this system, people might efficiently capture and make available via commonplace computers, deep knowledge of retiring NASA engineers. In the process of proving some of the concepts of this system, we would (and did) capture knowledge from some specific engineers and, so, meet the original challenge along the way to meeting the new. Some of the specific knowledge acquired, particularly that on the RL- 10 engine, was directly relevant to design of rocket engines. We considered and rejected some of the techniques popular in the days we began - specifically "expert systems" and "oral histories". We judged that these old methods had too high a cost per sentence preserved. That cost could be measured in hours of labor of a "knowledge professional". We did spend, particularly in the grant preceding this one, some time creating a couple of "concept maps", one of the latest ideas of the day, but judged this also to be costly in time of a specially trained knowledge-professional. We reasoned that the cost in specialized labor could be lowered if less time were spent being selective about sentences from the engineers and in crafting replacements for those sentences. The trade-off would seem to be that our set of sentences would be less dense in information, but we found a computer-based way around this seeming defect. Our plan, details of which we have been carrying out, was to find methods of extracting information from experts which would be capable of gaining cooperation, and interest, of senior engineers and using their time in a way they would find worthy (and, so, they would give more of their time and recruit time of other engineers as well). We studied these four ways of creating text: 1) the old way, via interviews and discussions - one of our team working with one expert, 2) a group-discussion led by one of the experts themselves and on a topic which inspires interaction of the experts, 3) a spoken dissertation by one expert practiced in giving talks, 4) expropriating, and modifying for our system, some existing reports (such as "oral histories" from the Smithsonian Institution).
Publication Date: Jan 01, 2002
Document ID:
(Acquired May 22, 2003)
Coverage: Progress Report; 15 Sep. 1997 - 31 May 2002
Document Type: Technical Report
Contract/Grant/Task Num: NAG3-2076
Financial Sponsor: NASA Glenn Research Center; Cleveland, OH, United States
Organization Source: Southern Univ.; Office of Sponsored Programs; Baton Rouge, LA, United States
Description: 5p; In English
Distribution Limits: Unclassified; Publicly available; Unlimited
Rights: No Copyright
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