A project that Lander University scientist Lisa Brodhacker has been working on for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has won a prize for its potential marketability outside of the space industry.
Brodhacker, an assistant professor of chemistry, is under contract to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to produce plastic epoxy parabolic mirrors that the agency uses in ground communications with orbiting spacecraft. Late last year, she and her student interns completed work on a 25-inch mirror which was built in a laboratory in the lower level of Lander's Science Facility using equipment and supplies provided by NASA.
The mirror is undergoing testing by Dr. Terry Richardson, a physicist and astronomer at The College of Charleston, after which it will be shipped to NASA for application of the reflective surface.
Plastic mirrors are more durable and lighter than glass mirrors and take less time to manufacture.
Brodhacker entered her TruView Epoxy Mirrors in the Launch Pad competition sponsored by the Spiro Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Clemson University. There were 64 entries in the competition, which was open to educators, students, private businesses and individuals. She was among the top 10 finalists who were invited to make presentations to and answer questions from a panel of 30 judges, and she won second place which carried with it a prize of $1,000.
In preparing her entry, Brodhacker had help from faculty and students in Lander's Department of Business Administration who compiled a business and marketing plan for manufacturing and selling the mirrors on the open market. The group stated that there is enormous market potential with estimated annual revenue of $100 million.
Brodhacker appreciated the input from Lander's team of business faculty and students. "I know the science, but I looked to that group for business advice." They identified as potential customers NASA scientists, university and research institutions, the government, the military, and solar reflector and satellite manufacturing companies.
Doug Grider, interim dean of Lander's College of Business and Public Affairs, said the collaboration with Brodhacker was not unusual. "Our faculty and students routinely work with individuals and businesses to develop marketing plans. We worked on several last semester." Grider added that such collaboration provides opportunities for students and faculty to put classroom learning into practice.