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NASA Selects Shawn Quinn to Lead Exploration Ground Systems Program



Engineering Director Shawn Quinn speaks during a banner signing event April 22, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to mark the accomplishments of the Kennedy engineering team that supported the Ground Support Equipment (GSE) Subsystem Software development.Credits: Kennedy Space Center

NASA has selected Shawn Quinn as manager of the Exploration Ground Systems program based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, effective Sunday, Jan. 15.

In this role, Quinn will lead the team responsible for developing and operating the systems necessary to process and launch NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft on Artemis Moon missions.

Quinn succeeds Mike Bolger, who retired from the agency in December 2022 after 35 years of service following the successful Artemis I mission.

“The work done on the ground at Kennedy to prepare for missions to the Moon is essential to the success of Artemis,” said Kennedy Space Center Director Janet Petro. “Across several roles at Kennedy, Shawn has demonstrated outstanding leadership, mentoring, and technical skills, and will be a tremendous asset in his new role supporting Artemis and humanity’s return to the Moon.”

Quinn brings more than 35 years of NASA experience to the role. Since 2018, he served as the director of engineering at Kennedy’s spaceport, where he led a large organization of engineers from multiple disciplines in the design, development, and operations of spaceflight hardware and ground systems in support of programs and projects assigned to Kennedy, including commercial crew, launch services, ground systems, and the International Space Station.

He has previous experience with the Exploration Ground Systems Program, serving as the associate program manager. In that position, he was responsible for ground systems development activities, including design, development, integration, fabrication, construction, activation, and verification and validation of facilities, systems, ground support equipment, and operations planning and execution activities leading to NASA’s exploration missions.

Prior to that role, Quinn was the Vehicle Integration and Launch Integration Product team manager. He was responsible for the operations and development of systems at Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39, including the launch pads, the mobile launcher, crawler transporter and the Vehicle Assembly Building. In the role, Quinn oversaw the overall planning and implementation of modifications of Launch Complex 39 systems to support the processing and launch of SLS and Orion. He first joined NASA in 1985 in the Engineering Cooperative Education Program at Kennedy supporting the Space Shuttle Program as a design engineer while studying for his bachelor’s degree.

Quinn earned a bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1990, and a master’s degree from the University of Central Florida in 1994. In 2008, Quinn completed the Massachusetts Institute of Technology System Design and Management program and received a master’s degree in engineering and management.

Among Quinn’s awards are the Presidential Rank Award, Kennedy ‘s Strategic Leadership Award, and NASA’s Silver Snoopy Award.

For more information about the Exploration Ground Systems Program, visit:


Source: NASA


Artificial Intelligence

McDonald’s and Google Cloud Announce Strategic Partnership to Connect Latest Cloud Technology and Apply Generative AI Solutions Across its Restaurants Worldwide



CHICAGO and SUNNYVALE, Calif. /PRNewswire/ — McDonald’s Corporation and Google today announced plans for a new multi-year, global partnership to connect Google Cloud technology across thousands of its restaurants worldwide. This partnership is a significant step for McDonald’s in advancing its restaurant technology platform to become the most sophisticated and productive in the industry. McDonald’s plans to leverage a wide range of Google Cloud’s hardware, data, and AI technologies to implement innovation faster and create even better experiences for its customers, restaurant teams, and employees.  

“We see tremendous opportunity for growth in our digital business and our partnership with Google Cloud allows us to capitalize on this by leveraging our size and scale to build capabilities and implement solutions at unmatched speeds,” said Brian Rice, McDonald’s Executive Vice President and Global Chief Information Officer. “Connecting our restaurants worldwide to millions of datapoints across our digital ecosystem means tools get sharper, models get smarter, restaurants become easier to operate, and most importantly, the overall experience for our customers and crew gets even better.” 

As part of this partnership, McDonald’s will roll out significant advancements to its restaurant and customer platforms – from its popular mobile app that serves as the gateway for its 150 million member-strong and quickly expanding loyalty program, to its thousands of self-service kiosks in restaurants worldwide. With a consistent approach, McDonald’s expects to deploy innovations with much greater speed and agility. McDonald’s will use edge computing from Google Cloud to power these new platforms, bringing information storage and high powered computing into individual restaurants. 

Google Distributed Cloud, a combined hardware and software offering, is planned to be deployed to thousands of McDonald’s restaurants so they can leverage both cloud-based software applications and their own software and AI solutions locally on-site, as needed. With Google Cloud edge computing capabilities, McDonald’s will be able to draw new insights into how equipment is performing, enact solutions that reduce business disruptions, and diminish complexity for crew so restaurant teams can focus on delivering amazing hospitality to customers. McDonald’s will be the largest global foodservice retailer to use Google Distributed Cloud’s new capabilities, with plans for thousands of restaurants to begin receiving their hardware and software upgrades next year.  

Through this new partnership, a dedicated Google Cloud team in Chicago will work in close proximity to McDonald’s global innovation center, known as Speedee Labs. Together, they’ll focus on applying generative AI across a number of key business priorities to power exciting new experiences for crew and customers, with McDonald’s unmatched convenience and value.  

“Through this wide-ranging partnership, Google Cloud will help McDonald’s seize on new opportunities to transform its business and customer experiences, empowering restaurants worldwide with the latest technologies for near-term impact,” said Thomas Kurian, Google Cloud’s Chief Executive Officer. “Pairing the iconic brand, size and scale of McDonald’s with Google Cloud’s deep history in AI and technology innovation will redefine how this industry works and what people expect when they dine out.” 

About Google Cloud 
Google Cloud accelerates every organization’s ability to digitally transform its business and industry. We deliver enterprise-grade solutions that leverage Google’s cutting-edge technology, and tools that help developers build more sustainably. Customers in more than 200 countries and territories turn to Google Cloud as their trusted partner to enable growth and solve their most critical business problems. 

About McDonald’s 
McDonald’s is the world’s leading global foodservice retailer with over 40,000 locations in over 100 countries. Approximately 95% of McDonald’s restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business owners.

SOURCE Google Cloud

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Amtrak’s Return to Phoenix: A Promising Step Towards Improved Connectivity

“Amtrak’s return to Phoenix brings hope for improved connectivity and economic growth, linking Arizona’s largest cities by passenger rail. #TransportationRevival”



The Revival of Amtrak’s Sunset Limited Train Line:
Amtrak’s Sunset Limited train line, which currently operates between Los Angeles and New Orleans, plays a vital role in this project. By routing the Sunset Limited through Phoenix, the nation’s largest city without intercity passenger train service, Arizona aims to bridge the gap in its transportation infrastructure. Currently, the train has stops in various states, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana. However, it falls short of reaching Phoenix, with Maricopa being the nearest stop, approximately 40 miles to the south. The reintroduction of Amtrak service to Phoenix would mark the revival of a rail connection that was discontinued in 1996.

Benefits for Arizona:
The Phoenix-Tucson passenger rail project holds immense promise for Arizona, both economically and environmentally. Representative Stanton, a strong advocate for this initiative, highlighted the advantages during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing. Connecting the state’s two largest cities by passenger rail would enhance accessibility, productivity, and economic opportunities for the communities along the route. By easing congestion and reducing air pollution caused by traffic on Interstate 10, this rail service would be a sustainable alternative for commuters and travelers.

Economic Opportunities and Regional Development:
As numerous communities across the country have experienced, the introduction of passenger rail brings a wave of new economic opportunities. Arizona, thus far, has been unable to tap into these benefits. However, with the allocation of federal funds and the state’s contribution of $3.5 million, the planning phase for the Phoenix-Tucson rail project is underway. This phase includes developing a comprehensive cost estimate, addressing route logistics, and evaluating the necessary infrastructure enhancements. By investing in this much-needed transportation link, Arizona can unlock the potential for increased tourism, job growth, and business development in the region.

aerial view of downtown Phoenix, Arizona

The allocation of federal funds for reestablishing passenger rail service between Phoenix and Tucson marks a significant milestone in Arizona’s pursuit of improved transportation connectivity. With strong local and state support, the Phoenix-Tucson rail project has the potential to revolutionize mobility within the state. By linking the two largest cities, this initiative will foster economic growth, alleviate traffic congestion, and contribute to a greener and more sustainable future. As the planning phase progresses, Arizona stands poised to embrace the economic opportunities and enhanced quality of life that passenger rail service can bring.

Story in Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/waynerash/2021/07/28/amtrak-announces-plan-to-begin-passenger-service-between-tucson-phoenix-and-la/?sh=1abacad61793



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New Course from NASA Helps Build Open, Inclusive Science Community



NASA released its free Open Science 101 curriculum Wednesday to empower researchers, early career scientists, and underrepresented communities with the knowledge and tools necessary to embrace open science practices.

The curriculum’s initial goal is to train 20,000 scientists and researchers over the next five years, enabling them to embrace open science practices and maximize the impact of their work.

“NASA is committed to ensuring people around the world have equal and open access to science data whenever they need it,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This innovative curriculum will support the White House’s Year of Open Science to help people make informed, research-based decisions that will benefit humanity and improve life here on Earth.”

Developed by NASA’s Transform to Open Science initiative in collaboration with subject matter experts, the curriculum is designed to meet researchers at every stage of their open science journey – catering to those new to open science, established researchers, and aspiring students looking to embark on scientific careers. It also helps prepare researchers to incorporate required open science data management plans when applying for NASA grant funding.

“We believe education is a shared endeavor that can be achieved through community-driven learning,” said Nicola Fox, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Our new curriculum is a testament to the incredible potential that emerges when open science experts from academia, industry, and government unite. With this initial rollout, we’re not just launching a course; we’re igniting a movement where learners actively shape the course’s trajectory.”

In its initial form, the Open Science 101 curriculum presents an introduction to the world of open science while also setting the stage for its continued evolution. It introduces learners to definitions, tools, and resources and provides valuable best practices throughout the scientific workflow. All five modules of the course are accessible through an open online platform, where participants can learn at their own pace. In addition to the platform, the modules will also be covered in virtual and in-person instructor-led training sessions.

To further support engagement and knowledge exchange, NASA has forged strategic partnerships with scientific associations, allowing open science to be taught during large annual meetings, special science team summer schools, and other events. These initiatives aim to create a dynamic learning environment where participants can interact with experts, ask questions, and explore the frontiers of open science. The diversity in learning options ensures that participants can choose the mode that best suits their learning style and schedule, optimizing the learning experience.

The Open Science 101 curriculum is accessible to all interested individuals, aligning with NASA’s commitment to inclusivity and promoting equitable access to scientific resources. 

To learn more, register for Open Science 101, and begin taking the curriculum, visit:


Source: NASA

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