Engineering Colloquium Home
Schedule for this lecture.

Goddard Space Flight Center Engineering Colloquium

Date: Monday, April 13, 1998

Title: The Politics of Space Science Funding

Speaker: Brenda Forman


Major scientific undertakings in the modern age rely heavily on public funding.  And the moment you must take a single dollar from the public purse, you are engaged in a political undertaking.  The fundamental equation to remember is: Money = Politics.  Publicly funded programs get funded -- or canceled -- for reasons having little if anything to do with their technological merit, their knowledge content, or their engineering elegance.  Instead, they survive -- or die -- on the basis of their political constituencies and their ability to serve multiple political agendas.  Politics is an integral part of any publicly funded scientific undertaking.  Its rules and variables must therefore be understood as clearly as orbital dynamics, instrumentation, or satellite operations.  Ignoring its pressures and demands, on the other hand, will only ensure that it will ambush you all the more disastrously in time.  The political context must instead be understood -- and as with any process, understanding will breed confidence, the confidence that you know how to deal with the process on its own terms.  The histories of space programs such as EOS offer several illustrations of this turbulent -- but intensely interesting, and above all, pivotal -- process.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Brenda Forman has a Ph.D. in political science from the City University of New York and has spent nearly fifteen years in the private sector, first with the Lockheed Corporation in Calabasas, California, and currently as Director, Academic Liaison & Federal Technology Policy, for the Lockheed Martin Corporation in Bethesda, Maryland. Before that, she spent twelve years in the federal government, first as a Senior Policy Analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and later as a Senior Technology Policy Advisor in the Commerce Department. During her years in California, she taught a graduate level course at the University of Southern California's School of Engineering, entitled "The Political Process in Systems Architecture Design", which some of her students dubbed "Survival Skills for the 90's Aerospace Engineer." She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, is a recipient of the DOD's Distinguished Civilian Service Award, was an Honorable Mention Honoree at the 27th Annual Wright Brothers Banquet, "The Wright Women," in 1989, and writes a monthly column for the United States Space Foundation.

Colloquium Committee Sponsor: Jim Gatlin

Engineering Colloquium home page: