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Aggie Alum, NASA Rocket Scientist Conyers Shares Research and Life Lessons in Visit

howard-conyers-250.jpgEAST GREENSBORO, N.C.  (Nov. 14, 2018) – NASA rocket scientist, barbecue pit master and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University alumnus Howard Conyers, Ph.D., made his first visit back to campus to share his knowledge and experiences with STEM students.

Returning to McNair Hall, named for fellow Aggie and NASA engineer Ronald McNair, Conyers presented his research on high dynamic range (HDR) recording and imaging to undergraduate and graduate engineering students as part of the College of Engineering Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Conyers wanted to find a more comprehensive way to look at images and videos of rocket engine testing. His team wanted to combat data photos and video that showed blown and washed out combustion plumes.

“In rocket engine testing, there is important information in an image that gets washed out with regular camera resolution,” Conyers said in his presentation. “HDR tries to replicate the human eye and in using that to record and photograph rocket engine testing, we get more of that data that can be useful in research.”

His research went viral via Tech Insider with more than one million views in one week, changing how NASA documents their engine tests. He’s also adapted his research to be useful to other industries, including film and television.

Conyers also advised students to look outside of the engineering industry and use their interests and abilities to expand their business and career possibilities, “The economy can be unpredictable,” he said to students. “You have to be prepared to change with it. You never know where your paths will intersect.”

Conyers grew up in a small town in South Carolina where he grew up farming with his family and learning the ins and outs of whole-hog barbecue.

“Engineering and being a pit master seem like they wouldn’t relate but whole-hog barbecue and farming is really where I learned the math and science used to be an engineer,” Conyers said. “It’s the practical application of things like building a pit and knowing about farming that really helped me when I got to A&T. We talk a lot about the T (technical) but the A (agricultural) is equally as important.”Conyers, who earned his master’s and doctorate from Duke University, lives in New Orleans with his wife and fellow Aggie, Kathryn.