June 21, 2013
WASHINGTON -- Two companies that share a commitment to teamwork, technical and managerial excellence, safety, and customer service have been selected to receive NASA's premier honor for quality and performance, the George M. Low Award.
NASA recognizes URS Federal Technical Services Inc. of Germantown, Md., in the large business award category and ATA Engineering Inc. of San Diego in the small business award category. ATA Engineering Inc. was involved in the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity mission.
"NASA's industry partners are crucial in our work to reach new destinations and expand our nation's capabilities, and we're happy to recognize these two companies with the high honor of the George M. Low Award," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Their success both in space and on the ground has demonstrated excellence and innovation that will help us reach our challenging goals and keep America the leader in space exploration."
URS Federal Technical Services Inc. is the institutional services contractor at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. With 1,100 employees and subcontractors, the company maintains 1,250 facilities, roadways, railroad tracks and an airfield; provides utilities, indoor climate control, life support and propellant storage; conducts non-destructive evaluation; cleans, samples and calibrates components; and coordinates logistics.
Evaluators cited URS' automation initiative, which deployed tablet computers to employees to reduce their paperwork burden; its process for ensuring customer satisfaction; and the breadth of its safety program in an industrial environment with so many potential hazards.
ATA Engineering Inc. supported development of the Mars Science Laboratory and its robotic rover, Curiosity, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. With 93 employees, the company played a key role in the mission by conducting detailed mechanical simulation work to support spacecraft's challenging entry, descent and landing at Mars in August last year.
Evaluators cited ATA's problem-solving ability, demonstrated with the design of Curiosity's sampling scoop; its emphasis on contracting with small business and hiring young talent with high potential; and its strong culture of teamwork.
"I congratulate these companies for winning our premier award. It's our recognition for their management's leadership and employee commitment to the highest standards in performance," said Terrence Wilcutt, the agency's chief of safety and mission assurance. "For NASA to do the kind of things the country asks us to do in exploration, science, research, and technology development, we depend on our contractors to operate at an exemplary level. URS Federal Technical Services Inc. and ATA Engineering Inc. have set the example for all of us."
The Low award demonstrates the agency's commitment to promoting excellence and continual improvement by challenging NASA's contractor community to be a global benchmark of quality management practices.
The award was established in 1985 as NASA's Excellence Award for Quality and Productivity. It was renamed in 1990 in memory of George M. Low, an outstanding leader with a strong commitment to quality products and workforce during his 27-year tenure at the agency. Low was NASA's deputy administrator from 1969 to 1976 and a leader in the early development of space programs.
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JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project, of which Curiosity is the centerpiece, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
For more information about the Curiosity Mars rover, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl . To follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter visit: http://www.facebook.com/marscuriosity and http://www.twitter.com/marscuriosity .
Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Beth Dickey 202-358-2087
NASA Headquarters, Washington