Position Summary The University of Alabama (UA) seeks an experienced Director of Space Technologies and Engineering Research within the College of Engineering (CoE). This position is a full-time (9 month) administrative position and will report directly to the Dean of the College of Engineering.
If the selected candidate has a strong academic record, they may be eligible for a faculty appointment in the appropriate academic department(s) at The University of Alabama.
Detailed Position Information UA has been formally working with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) located in Huntsville, AL, for more than a decade. In 2015, UA and MSFC signed a Space Act Agreement on various collaborative projects including: study and control of launch vehicles and structures, thermal performance of CubeSat propulsion systems, low-thrust mission designs, recycling otherwise unusable powder from waste streams resulting from advanced manufacturing, and analysis and methods to commercialize NASA technology and patents, among others. Moreover, on November 6, 2019, UA and MSFC reaffirmed this collaboration by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to further develop several mutually beneficial areas relating to advanced and in-space manufacturing. The MOU affirmed UA’s desires to significantly expand its core excellence in areas of advanced and in-space manufacturing to lead and foster effective collaborations among industry, government, academia, non-profit organizations, and others to ensure a coordinated, global effort toward rapidly closing both standards and workforce/technology development gaps in space technologies, advanced materials, and advanced and in-space manufacturing for future NASA missions. Therefore, amongst its various roles, this Director position will critically advance UA’s partnership with NASA and MSFC in these strategic areas.
More broadly, over the past few years, there has been a rapid expansion of private industry in the field of space flight, technologies, and operations. Companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic have made significant progress in developing reusable rockets, launching satellites, and sending astronauts to space. These companies have also been successful in lowering the cost of space launches and creating new markets for space-related services. Additionally, there has been a surge in investment in space-based technologies such as satellite internet and space tourism, with new companies emerging to capitalize on these opportunities. Overall, the growth of non-governmental and private industry space efforts has the potential to revolutionize the space industry, through both partnerships with governmental space efforts and wholly private activities. These efforts are paving the way for new discoveries, commercial applications, and human exploration of the cosmos. There are numerous challenges for these non-governmental space program efforts as well, and UA and its College of Engineering are well-poised to work closely with these industrial partners to advance research and development efforts across a variety of space technologies and research topics. Therefore, a significant role also for this Director position is to advance UA’s partnerships with such private industry in relation to space technologies and research.
The Director of Space Technologies and Engineering will have the following Major Responsibilities:
• Advance UA’s partnership with NASA and MSFC,as well as the broader space industry • Pursue and secure external funding as principal investigator and/or Co-PI or Co-I in the broad areas of space technologies and engineering. • In areas relating to space technologies and engineering, work effectively and collaboratively with core faculty, selected colleges, and research-designated centers. • Develop strong relationships with both internal and external constituencies, including faculty, staff and students; campus and system-wide leadership; state and federal government officials; and foundation and industry representatives. • Develop and secure long-term mutually beneficial collaborations in the form of public/private and university/university partnerships and consortia with the overall goal to both grow externally sponsored research and create opportunities for students. • If and where appropriate, develop and teach courses to further the mission of UA and CoE with respect to space technologies, space-related research, and workforce development.
Minimum Qualifications The candidate must meet all the following required qualifications:
• PhD degree in engineering or relevant STEM field with at least 20 years of post-PhD related experience in academic, industrial and/or government settings. • Evidence of an established national or international reputation within the broad area of space technologies, engineering, and technical project management • Extensive multi-disciplinary leadership experience in research and research to applications or operations with evidence of successfully leading large teams to achieve defined objectives and goals. • Clear ability and capacity to identify needs of both UA and private industry to develop lasting and mutually beneficial public/private partnerships. • Experience in building successful partnerships and coalitions between university, government, and industrial partners. • History of successful and effective staff management and professional development. • Acute understanding of the priorities, operation, and strategies of successfully securing resources to support research and development. • Proven ability to manage a diverse portfolio of projects with nationally distributed partners, customers, sponsors and suppliers.
Preferred Qualifications In addition to meeting all the required qualifications, the preferred candidate will ideally have one or more of the following:
• Prior research and development and operational experience or collaboration with NASA relating to any or all of the following: space systems development, spaceflight operations, space technologies and engineering, advanced space materials, and advanced and in-space manufacturing.
• Track record and ability to plan, develop execute project and organizational budgets and schedules. Proven success in advocating for and defending budget projections to key stakeholders at the Senior Executive, Vice president and General Officer Level in academia, industry and government.
• Prior research, development and operational experience or collaboration with NASA.
• Documented evidence of pursuing and securing external funding as principal investigator and/or Co-PI or Co-I in areas relevant to this position; and the ability to move secured funding to The University of Alabama.
• Strong academic record and eligibility for faculty appointment in the appropriate academic department at The University of Alabama.
• Strong existing relationships with R&D leaders in industry, universities and federal agencies.
• Prior teaching experience and developing and delivering academic programs and/or training experiences.
• A clear understanding of technology transfer and licensing from a research-intensive university to the private sector.
Instructions and Required Materials for Application To receive the fullest and timely consideration, applications should be submitted prior to May 15, 2023; however, the position will remain open until filled. Applications submitted after May 15, 2023 will be reviewed and considered as long as the position remains unfilled.
Application materials should include: 1) a complete and updated curriculum vitae (CV)/resume, 2) cover letter summarizing the interest in the position and how the minimum qualifications and any preferred qualifications are met by the candidate’s background and experience, and 3) a list of four professional references with full contact information. However, references will only be contacted after consent of the candidate.
About the College of Engineering As one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering instruction, The University of Alabama has more than 175 years of engineering education experience. UA’s College of Engineering is committed to conducting leading-edge research, providing unparalleled educational opportunities and investing in students who will be the scholars and industry professionals shaping the future of the field of engineering.
Overall, The University of Alabama has seen transformative growth in its research enterprise over the past ten years. For example, in June 2019 the Office for Research & Economic Development (ORED) launched a five-year strategic plan for UA research (2019-2024). That plan – emanating from UA’s overarching goal to, “increase the University’s productivity and innovation in research, scholarship, and creative activities that impact economic and societal development,” – focuses on six strategic themes: (1) Research Environment, (2) Alabama Research Institutes, (3) Transformative Initiatives, (4) Translating Intellectual Property, (5) Economic and Business Engagement, and (6) Assessing Progress and Impact. The overall goal of ORED’s strategic plan is to help the University double its research enterprise in five years and become one of the premier comprehensive research institutions in the southeastern United States and the country as a whole. Through the efforts of the University, ORED, and the College of Engineering and its departments and faculty, UA’s research enterprise has indeed been surging higher for ten consecutive years. For the five-year period from 2014 to 2018, total sponsored awards at UA grew by 85%. In the last four fiscal years (2019-2022), total sponsored awards across UA increased again by more than 80%. This growth rate strengthens UA’s position as one of the fastest growing research institutions in the nation. More specifically, total research awards within the College of Engineering have more than doubled (i.e. have grown in 2022 to 240% their level in 2017) in just the last five years.
Research is a critical component of our mission as the flagship university in the state of Alabama. Over the past decade, the College’s research activity has more than doubled, and the Shelby Science and Engineering Quad was completed at a cost of more than $300 million. There are 10 research centers housed under the College, spanning areas from cybersecurity to transportation, that are dedicated to making sustainable changes and an impact on local, national and global levels.
With hundreds of award-winning faculty and staff members, and a diverse offering of nationally accredited programs, facilities and resources, the College has positioned itself for success as a leader in engineering education.
About The University of Alabama The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus.
A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. The University of Alabama has R1: Doctoral Universities – Very High Research Activity status by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education and is among the top doctoral research universities in the United States.
As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.
About Tuscaloosa Tuscaloosa is so much more than a college town.
It's a vibrant community that’s filled with legendary history. Located along the Black Warrior River, the city features a walkable downtown that’s complete with live music, locally owned shops, outdoor spaces to explore and local restaurants to meet every palate. With a geography ranging from suburban to rural, the area offers a variety of housing options along with excellent public and private schools and a wealth of recreational and entertainment options.
With a metro area population of 235,000, the Druid City lies about an hour southwest of Birmingham, in west-central Alabama. It’s within a few hours’ drive of Gulf Coast beaches and major cities like Nashville, New Orleans and Atlanta, making it a great base for growing better acquainted with the South’s finest offerings.
Background Investigation and EEO Statement Prior to hiring, the final candidate(s) must successfully pass a pre-employment background investigation and information obtained from social media and other internet sources. A prior conviction reported as a result of the background investigation DOES NOT automatically disqualify a candidate from consideration for this position. A candidate with a prior conviction or negative behavioral red flags will receive an individualized review of the prior conviction or negative behavioral red flags before a hiring decision is made.
The University of Alabama is an Equal Employment/Equal Educational Opportunity Institution. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, genetic information, disability or protected veteran status and will not be discriminated against because of their protected status. Applicants to and employees of this institution are protected under Federal law from discrimination on several bases. Follow the link below to find out more. "EEO is the Law" https://www.eeoc.gov/sites/default/files/migrated_files/employers/poster_screen_reader_optimized.pdf
As the state’s flagship university, The University of Alabama family has always focused on being the best. After all, we are The Capstone of Higher Education. Founded in 1831 as the state’s first public college, The University of Alabama is dedicated to excellence in teaching, research and service. We provide a creative, nurturing campus environment where our students can become the best individuals possible, learn from the best and brightest faculty, and make a positive difference in the community, the state and the world. You’ll like what you find here. Become part of The University of Alabama family.