Former NASA Flight Surgeon Dr. Douglas Hamilton, now associate professor and member of both the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and W21C at the University of Calgary, has been awarded the Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal by NASA. This Agency Honor Award is given for accomplishments far above others in quality, scope, and impact which are explicit, significant, and demonstrate results.
Dr. Hamilton received this award for his work in identifying and clarifying the potential risk of electric shock that could happen to astronauts who were performing spacewalks (also referred to as extra-vehicular activities or EVAs) on the International Space Station.
From continued construction to daily maintenance, EVAs are a necessary component to day-to-day living for most astronauts on the station and, eventually, the moon. Through collaboration with the Naval Medical Research Unit Directed Energy Weapons Laboratory and NASA/Boeing Space Environments Division, Hamilton was instrumental in the development of super-computer models to predict where electric discharge may occur along the metal points in spacesuits during EVA. This work clearly modeled an electrical conductance pathway through the human body that could cause serious or fatal electric shock to astronauts. Hamilton’s work has served to inform the design of new EVA suits, has reworked the space vehicle electrical human systems standards, and is being considered for use in the automotive, aerospace, and toy manufacture industries to increase public safety.
The medal was presented to Hamilton during the NASA Honor Awards Ceremony on Sept. 6 at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Hamilton has previously been awarded a number of accolades, including the University of Calgary’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Story by Julia MacGregor/courtesy of the University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine