You know when your parents tell you that you should get an education because "if you want to be an athlete and get hurt, then you’ll have something to fall back on"? It’s true. Leland was an NCAA Division I Academic All American who was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1986, and ended his career a short time later during training camp in Dallas.
Mr. Melvin began working in the Fiber Optic Sensors group of the Nondestructive Evaluation Sciences Branch at NASA Langley Research Center in 1989, where he conducted research in the area of physical measurements for the development of advanced instrumentation for Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE). His responsibilities included using optical fiber sensors to measure strain, temperature, and chemical damage in both composite and metallic structures. Additional projects included developing optical interferometric techniques for quantitative determination of damage in aerospace structures and materials. In 1994, Mr. Melvin was selected to lead the Vehicle Health Monitoring (VHM) team for the cooperative Lockheed/NASA X-33 Reuseable Launch Vehicle (RLV) program. The team developed distributed fiber optic strain, temperature and hydrogen sensors for the reduction of vehicle operational costs and to monitor composite liquid oxygen tank and cryogenic insulation performance. In 1996, Mr. Melvin codesigned and monitored construction of an optical NDE facility capable of producing in-line fiber optic Bragg grating strain sensors at rates in excess of 1000 per hour. This facility will provide a means for performing advanced sensor and laser research for development of aerospace and civil health monitoring systems.
He’s also been into space. Twice. A veteran of two space flights, STS-122 in 2008, and STS-129 in 2009, Leland Melvin has logged over 565 hours in space.
He is currently the Associate Administrator inn the Office of Education at NASA.
He’s been a tremendous inspiration to me personally, and a man I’m proud to know.