NASA offers assistance to Northeast Ohio companies

By Denise Dick


Four regional companies got some assistance from NASA engineers through a collaboration of Youngstown State University, the NASA Glenn Research Center and the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network’s Partnership for Regional Innovation Services to Manufacturers.

Joe Shaw, of the NASA Glenn Research Center, said the center is reaching out to communities and companies to create new partnerships and strengthen existing ones.

“This is an important step on a journey our center is on,” Shaw said at a luncheon Thursday at YSU.

AT&F of Cleveland and Catacel of Ravenna were two of the companies.

Michael Forde Ripich, AT&F president, said the steel-fabricating company sought help from NASA for an engineering problem it encountered in developing a new product. The company’s plans deal with cryogenics — a field in which NASA has some notoriety.

Thursday’s sessions with NASA were free, and if companies opt to continue the relationship, they can enter a contract with NASA.

William Whittenberger, Catacel president, said his company wanted NASA’s assistance because computer models it developed weren’t working the way it thought they should. NASA has expertise in that area, he said. Catacel designs and manufactures catalytic heat-exchanging materials.

“This was a great opportunity for us to play into their expertise,” Whittenberger said.

YSU President Randy Dunn said such collaborations not only create opportunities for manufacturing companies but for students too, with internships and cooperatives.

Shaw said NASA wants to build sustainable relationships.

“To show that something that NASA did led to jobs — job creation, job retention,” he said.

Antonio Riley, administrator of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the Region V, which includes Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin, told luncheon attendees that HUD is concerned about more than just housing.

“It’s also about job growth and economic opportunity,” Riley said.

The NASA Roadshow at YSU was the first event of its kind in the city, according to university officials.

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