NASA Engineer Paul Gradl Lands at Gannon University

Paul GradlPosted: April 10, 2013We’ve all heard the phrase, “This isn’t rocket science,” but for Paul Gradl, it is.  Literally.

Gradl is a propulsion engineer with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL who will return to Gannon University to deliver a talk entitled “Rocket Science for Real Life” on Tuesday April 16 at 11 a.m. in the Zurn Science Center (Z104).  This event, sponsored by Gannon’s Scholars for Excellence in Engineering and Computer Science program (SEECS), is open to Gannon students, staff, alumni and the Erie community free of charge.

Gradl was the recipient of the 2011 Gannon Distinguished Young Alumni award for the engineering skills he displayed through his work at NASA. He received a bachelors of science in mechanical engineering degree in 2002 and his MBA two years later. He also graduated from the University of Alabama in 2007 with a master’s degree in systems engineering.

Gradl lead a component-testing program for the “Return of Flight” efforts after the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, receiving several awards and recognitions from NASA, including two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals, one of NASA’s highest honors. Gradl is currently the lead developer for advanced technologies for liquid rocket engine combustion device components. He has also patented a Dynamically Variable Spot Size (DVSS) laser system for bonding metal components, which provides continuous variability in laser energy output. Gradl has also written several technical papers and journal articles for GE Transportation.

Gradl is focusing his speech on his post-graduation experiences to relate to those students who are in transition between graduating and finding employment. He will discuss the importance of problem-solving, negotiation and salesmanship for launching a career.

Gannon’s SEECS Program is proud to host Gradl’s speech to honor his accomplishments, as well as to exemplify how hard work pays off. The goals of the SEECS program are to increase the enrollment of academically talented students in engineering and computer science programs, assist students through scholarships and rigorous academic support and foster professional development to prepare students for STEM careers.

Through funds from the National Science Foundation, Gannon University awards approximately 20 scholarships per year, each renewable for up to four years. Each recipient can be awarded up to $8,000 a year. The cornerstone of the program is the Professional and Personal Enrichment Seminar series, which offers a single, shared experience for all scholars.