Bill Garrard retires as Director of NASA’s MnSGC after 25 years
On January 2, 2017, long-time Minnesota Space Grant Consortium (MnSGC) Director, Professor Bill Garrard, stepped down from that role in preparation for his retirement at the end Spring Semester 2017. Professor Demoz Gebre-Egziabher will serve as the new MnSGC Director. As an era comes to end, the Department would like to acknowledge Bill Garrard for all that he has done to make the MnSGC one of the top Space Grant programs in the country.
Bill was central to the MnSGC since it began in 1989. He helped write the original proposal then served in the role of Space Grant Director for all but the very first year. Under his guidance, the consortium was in the very first group of states to be elevated from "Program Grant" to "Designated" status—the highest possible funding level. He served as Chair of the National Council of Space Grant Directors from 2006-2008 and has been on the National Space Grant Executive Committee ever since, continuing to help advise and steer Space Grant policy at a national level.
At the state level, Bill oversaw the expansion of the consortium from the original three institutional affiliates to the current 14 affiliates, with occasional projects involving additional (non-affiliate) colleges and universities around the state. One recent project of the latter type, which was Bill's idea, was the "MnSGC Quadcopter Competition for Community Colleges" in which student teams from five community colleges around the state built quadcopters from kits, learned to fly them, then customized them to "explore" an unknown indoor environment (a bit like NASA sending rovers to Mars to explore that environment). This competition brought community colleges to the U of MN for their fly-off in the spring of 2015 and 2016.
Bill was particularly effective as a Space Grant director because of his commitment to share MnSGC funding and resources with affiliates around the state, promoting activities in curriculum development, hands-on student aerospace build projects, teacher workshops, and outreach, not just research and not just activities at the U of MN. His strategies were well-regarded by MnSGC affiliates and NASA Headquarters alike. James Flaten, ongoing MnSGC Associate Director, simply says, "Bill was great to work for and work with—he will be sorely missed!"
Left: Garrard working with students in 1995