National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Kyle Gaiser

Kyle Gaiser

Kyle Gaiser

University of California Davis
Davis, CA
M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, September 2013
B.S. in Engineering Physics, Aerospace concentration, January 2009

2013 NASA Glenn Aeronautics Academy:
Operations & Logistic Manager

Hometown: Jamestown, NY



“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs – ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

A mentor of mine at NASA shared this quote with me a number of years ago, and ever since it has inspired and challenged me. I am most alive when I am learning about universe, inventing, and gazing at the stars, a curiosity that took root when I first attended Space Camp in sixth grade. Yet, to neglect the needs of the world in pursuit of knowledge or success I believe is to miss the point. As an engineer, I am equally excited by the prospect of applying knowledge and engaging people of diverse ideas and cultures to create new technologies and improve lives.

The numerous spin-off applications that space technology has on people’s everyday lives are what inspire me to be a researcher, innovator, entrepreneur, and volunteer. When I am not pursuing research, I volunteer at homeless shelters, travel overseas on engineering service trips, and for one year I taught high school math and physics to students in rural Rwanda.

Education and Experience

My bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics provided a fundamental understanding of how the world works while my master’s degree developed the hands-on mechanical engineering skill set. At Case Western I performed electrochemical research on PEM fuel cells and after graduating with my bachelor’s degree in 2009 I joined a start-up company pursuing research and product development and of a direct carbon fuel cell for converting biomass into electricity. My prior research with NASA Glenn included two propulsion projects: a genetic algorithm that optimized the design of bleed-air through a hypersonic jet engine with Dr. Meng-Sing Liou and the modeling and fatigue analysis of a reed valve in a pulsed combustion engine with Dr. Daniel Paxon.

My master’s thesis is an experimental parametric study of a low-cost hydroelectric turbine, which highlights mechanical design and fatigue analysis, manufacturability, statistical analysis for optimization, dynamics, fluid mechanics and a touch of power electronics. With a team of three undergraduates under my supervision, I witnessed the entire engineering process, from literature review and theory to conception, design, CAD, fabrication, assembly, instrumentation, testing and analysis. We have been able to significantly reduce the turbine cost ($/kW) for small, less than 5 kW systems, while still maintaining high efficiency.

Abroad I have helped design, draft and install a battery-grid-tie system in the Dominica Republic, a water/wastewater system for a hospital in Nigeria, and a homemade high-efficiency hydroelectric system in Rwanda. In 2012 I completed the University of California Entrepreneurship Academy and was awarded a grant to connect and empower villagers in Rwanda’s mountainous countryside to start small hydroelectric businesses.

Hobbies and Interests

I love the outdoors, especially biking, rock climbing, and backpacking and I am a trained white water rafting guide. Musically, I play guitar and have sung for as long as I can remember, including the university choirs at Case Western and UC Davis. At Case Western I held officer positions with Engineers Without Borders and Campus Crusade for Christ, and I rowed for the Case Crew team. At UC Davis I was a project mentor for a student team at the UC Davis D-Lab, a program that fosters development of appropriate and sustainable technologies for international development. Obtaining my pilot’s license and completing a triathlon are next on my list!

Future Goals

My long term goal is to work in the aerospace or energy sector on power and propulsion research. I am particularly interested in energy harvesting technologies (vibrations, waste heat, solar, hydrokinetic) and electric propulsion. I would like to find spin-off applications of these technologies and bring them to the market.