Skip to main content
Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

Space exploration, fire prevention research highlight National Engineering Week lectures at URI

Media Contact: Todd McLeish, 401-874-7892

KINGSTON, R.I. -- February 12, 2004 -- The director of the National Center for Microgravity Research and the manager of research at property insurer FM Global, both graduates of the University of Rhode Island, will present lectures as part of the URI College of Engineering Distinguished Lecture Series to commemorate National Engineers Week (Feb. 23-27).

Simon Ostrach, the W.J. Austin Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Case Western Reserve University and director of the National Center for Microgravity Research, will discuss "The Challenges of Human Exploration of Space" on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. The lecture will be held in Cherry Auditorium of the Kirk Technology Center on URI’s Kingston campus. It is free and open to the public.

Ostrach has been honored as a "superstar of modern aeronautics" by the National Aeronautical and Space Administration for his lifetime contribution to NASA’s aeronautics programs. A member of the National Academy of Engineering, he also received NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal in 1993, the highest honor NASA confers on someone who is not employed by the government. He was honored for his extensive contributions to space science, including pioneering research on the behavior of fluids in low gravity, public advocacy of U.S. efforts to conduct science experiments in space, and the development of two successful space experiments.

In his lecture, the 1944 graduate of URI, who also earned a master’s degree from the University in 1949 and a Ph.D. from Brown University, will discuss the effects of space on the bodies and minds of astronauts. Also included in his lecture will be an explanation of the engineering challenges required to design the various technologies that sustain people for extended periods of time in space.

The second Engineering Week lecture, on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 1:30 p.m. in Cherry Auditorium, will feature a discussion of fire prevention research by Paul Croce, who oversees fire and loss prevention research at FM Global, the world’s largest non-actuarial property insurer. As vice president and manager of research at the Norwood, Mass.-based insurer, the 1962 graduate of URI is responsible for the company’s new $80 million state-of-the-art fire prevention research facility in West Glocester, R.I.

FM Global’s research facility is large enough to replicate a fire in some of the world's largest warehouses and measure the impact of flame spread and fire growth. It also houses intermediate- and small-scale labs for research and testing of the latest fire protection technology and for simulating unique industry facilities that require customized property loss prevention solutions.

For additional information about the lectures, contact Robert Clough, senior development officer in the URI College of Engineering, at 874-2162 or