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Critical Knowledge inSight: Case Studies for Learning

Ginger Kerrick

Case studies are a great method for understanding important lessons learned from NASA’s work.  Cases give a context so that the learner can understand what is going on in the environment in which a problem occurs and how a solution is developed inside that same environment. A case utilizes storytelling to help an audience learn key lessons. The video clip demonstrates the use of storytelling to share lessons.

Ginger Kerrick was the Mission Operations Directorate Manager for the International Space Station (ISS). Mike Lammers has worked with NASA since 1996 and is currently a Flight Director. They delivered a case study on the Carbon Dioxide Removal Assembly (CDRA), explaining the importance of high reliability in light of issues that can arise from reliance on design engineers on the ground to fix problems with space hardware.



    1. 1.

      Hardware fails in unpredicted ways.

    2. 2.

      New repair procedures developed on the ground may take a lot of extra time when performed in space. Ground processes will never be exactly the same as those on the ISS due to different environments.

    3. 3.

      High reliability for hardware is very important for the ISS, since repairing hardware comes with issues and there’s no guarantee of sending spare parts to fix mechanical issues in a timely manner.

    4. 4.

      Designing hardware for the ISS with the human perspective in mind — making it simple and easy to do hardware maintenance – helps engineers on the ground and astronauts to work through hardware repair or maintenance processes more easily.

    5. 5.

      It’s useful to maintain budget flexibility so that engineers have enough hardware on the ground to work through tests and processes.


Related Resources:

NASA Case Studies

NASA Safety Center:  System Failure Case Studies

NASA Case Study Catalog

NASA APPEL Case Studies

My Best Mistake Series


Critical Knowledge inSight is a new series of articles highlighting information to help practitioners identify and overcome obstacles that interfere with mission success. Each article focuses on a critical knowledge topic and features knowledge insight through a short video clip with subject matter experts sharing information needed to solve problems and drive innovation. Articles include a brief summary of key learning points gleaned from the expert’s insight along with related resources, such as case studies, courses and lessons learned, to further explore the topic and provide you with quick-hitting, targeted learning to enhance your knowledge base.

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