NASA Recognizes Barrios Employees With High Honors

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER (Houston, TX): NASA Johnson Space Center honored three Barrios Technology employees with agency level awards for their outstanding contributions to multiple NASA programs including the International Space Station (ISS), Orion, and Artemis. Dr. Shian Hwu received an Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal, Dr. Dean Muirhead received the United States Patent Award for the Pretreatment Solution for Water Recovery Systems, and Mark Schaefbauer received an Outstanding Public Leadership Medal. These prestigious awards are approved by the NASA Administrator and presented at special ceremonies held each year at a NASA center.

Dr. Shian Hwu was presented with the Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal for his exceptional foundational technical contributions advancing the study of radio frequency propagation and scattering effects of space communication systems. His influence on NASA’s mission programs has led to immeasurable improvements. Dr. Hwu's most applauded contribution was on the technology of scattering effects due to structures that affected antenna gain. The Space Station is a complex structure and the placement of antennas is crucial for determining if the antenna can provide the required gain to establish an RF link. For a Visiting Vehicle (VV) that is trying to rendezvous, the RF link is critical for mission success and crew safety. If the VV does not have the ability to communicate, the mission will be aborted. Dr. Hwu performed countless simulations to determine the most optimal location and did sensitivity analysis to validate the results. His ground-breaking work was applied to other programs resulting in several technical publications in Proceedings of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) 21st Digital Avionics Systems Conference and AIAA 14th International Communication Satellite Systems Conference and Exhibit.

Dr. Dean Muirhead was honored with a prestigious United States Patent Award for the Pretreatment Solution for Water Recovery Systems. Dr. Muirhead is the sole inventor on the patent which is a NASA owned technology that was developed, tested and implemented as a pre-treatment solution with the purpose of recovering drinkable water by treating urine in the International Space Station (ISS) distiller. The solution increased the water recovery rate in the Space Station distiller from 75 to 90 percent, doubled the volume of feed processed per cycle, reduced the volume of brine by half, and eliminated the formation of precipitate up to 90% water recovery. Although the solution was developed for the ISS distiller, the technology can potentially be used on Earth to pre-treat contaminated water that is usually treated with a chemical solution to recover water from organic laden, high-salinity wastewaters. NASA has licensed Muirhead’s technology to multiple companies in different industries. Dr. Muirhead’s technology is of great value to the ISS Program and with his support NASA has been able to commercialize his patented technology.

Mark Schaefbauer was presented the Outstanding Public Leadership Medal for his contributions to the conception, development, design, and fabrication of NASA softgoods spacecraft products. Softgoods spacecraft products are a wide range of flight hardware in the areas of spacecraft life support, habitability, structural, and robotics systems. As the Softgoods Lab Manager for the Crew and Thermal Systems Division, Schaefbauer’s work extends to other Divisions within the Engineering Directorate as well as other NASA centers and partners. His work has supported all the major programs including the Space Shuttle, ISS, Orion, and Artemis. Schaefbauer has continually led his team in making significant contributions to NASA’s mission by generating softgoods products that include thermal and radiation protection, spacesuits, hardware covers, crew quarters, inflatable structures, robonaut gloves, harnesses, tethers, stowage bags and kits, and other miscellaneous items. The Softgoods Lab products consistently surpass requirements due to Schaefbauer’s innovative approach to development, design, and high workmanship standards. The large volume and high level of quality of products prototyped and fabricated for development and flight with the Softgoods Lab’s limited resources is a testament to Schaefbauer’s innovativeness, resourcefulness, efficiency, and adherence to excellence.

NASA holds their awards ceremonies periodically to recognize these outstanding contributions to furthering the space agency’s missions. Hwu, Muirhead, and Schaefbauer were recognized earlier this year at a virtual due to the current pandemic restrictions.

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Headquartered in Houston, Barrios Technology is a woman-owned AS9100 certified engineering services company specializing in aerospace engineering & science, program planning & control, mission integration & operations, and software engineering & integration. Since 1980, Barrios has demonstrated their corporate mission to be the foremost small aerospace engineering services company providing extraordinary value to our customers, employees and communities. For more information on Barrios Technology, please call 281-280-1900 or visit

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