FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Longtime Program Director Greg Blaney is headed into retirement after 12 years with the NASA Independent Verification and Validation program in Fairmont.
The program has doubled in size and expanded its expertise during Blaney’s time as director.
Looking back , Blaney said the highlight was meeting Katherine Johnson. The NASA IV&V facility was named after Johnson years ago to honor her career with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics and NASA.
“Katherine Johnson exemplified what a good NASA person does. They do their job, they do it with excellence and they don’t worry about fame or glory,” Blaney said.
He also said he’s proud that NASA has not lost a mission due to the software in his time as director.
“I think that NASA IV&V Program is now recognized as a national asset,” Blaney said. “I think it’s the best IV&V Program in the federal government… It’s hard to believe NASA has a gem like the IV&V program sitting right here in West Virginia.”
Blaney feels the program is in good hands with the new director Wes Deadrick.
“I kind of feel like Wes is my son … I believe he will be able to take it to the next level and keep it going and even grow it,” Blaney said.
Deadrick has been with the program for nearly 20 years. He started out as an intern and has held several leadership positions since then.
“Greg’s had a very steady hand on pillar for the last 10 years and I hope that I can do the same and help provide stability for our workforce but at the same time also help us continue to grow and advance and provide excellent service to the agency.”
Deadrick is ready to take on new challenges and is also ready to advance current projects.
“Positioning ourselves for the future of work is going to be something that we have to continue to work on, on a daily basis. Obviously with covid the entire work environment has changed over the last couple of years and hopefully what I’m looking forward to is being able to be a leader that they can look to and be someone that they view as an entity that’s helping them out and helping them be successful in their job,” Deadrick said.
He’s particularly looking forward to finding ways for the program to increase their role in missions beyond just software.
Deadrick also mentioned further support for their educational outreach program. The West Virginia native said he knows what it’s like to not have all of the resources and opportunities that larger areas have and feels their educational program does well in bringing those to West Virginia.
“It also helps us grow future members of our work force. We love to hire people from the state of West Virginia. West Virginians are some of the hardest working people that I have ever seen,” Deadrick said.
Blaney said the educational outreach program was instrumental in getting robotics into schools, which is now considered a sport. That same outreach program was inducted into the June Harless Hall of Fame for their education support to the state.
Ever since 1993 the IV&V Program has been contributing to the safety and success of NASA’s highest-profile missions by assuring the software performs correctly.
NASA IV&V’s latest display of work is on the James Webb Space Telescope which is set to launch on Christmas Day. The program has been doing IV&V on the telescope for more than 20 years.
“It’s going to change science forever,” Blaney said.