In a Morass of Paper, Security Is an Issue

Navigating the Teen Years

Writing Winning Grant Proposals

Careers in Grant Writing

Space for All

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring and Bart Jackson were

prepared for the July 21, 2004 issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights

reserved.

Survival Guide

Top Of Page
In a Morass of Paper, Security Is an Issue

American business survives on paper. Ninety-nine million tons flow

annually through North America’s channels of commerce, keeping our

lives and our fortunes vital – and recorded. The dawn of computers,

rather than ushering in the much touted paperless age, has nearly

doubled our annual consumption since 1970. As these mounting mounds of

printed pages proliferate, so does access to the private details of

our lives and of our clients’ business.

The problems of what to keep, what to lose, and how, are analyzed in a

day-long seminar, "Document Retention and Destruction," on Thursday,

July 22, at 8:30 a.m. at the Clarion Hotel in Cherry Hill. Cost: $329.

Call 715-883-3539. Sponsored by Lorman Education Services, this

workshop features speaker Keith DiMarino, principal of DocuVault’s

Delaware Valley division. His talk is aimed, he jokes, "at a lot more

business owners than think it’s important."

Clients are beginning to ask questions. "What are you doing with my

papers?" they want to know as the transaction winds up. "You’d be

amazed at the number of major national retailers who routinely set all

their credit card carbons in the dumpster for the convenience of any

identity thief," says DiMarino. He has witnessed such careless paper

trails in all levels of businesses and professional dealings since his

college days.

Raised and still residing in Woodbury, DiMarino attended

Philadelphia’s Wharton School, earning a degree in business. While his

fellow students were struggling just to keep up with the books and

academics, DiMarino in his few spare hours, founded Equigent

Consulting and simultaneously gained real world experience. Upon

graduating from Wharton in 2000, he expanded Equigent, advising a long

list of industries, ranging from cosmetics to cement. While working

for a Colorado client, he met with the heads of DocuVault in Denver.

While he now works for DocuVault, he maintains Equigent Consulting as

well.

"Each document has a life cycle: starting with its creation, through

its span of intended use, on through to its end of value," explains

DiMarino. Categorizing your papers along this continuum, can help you

decide where to shuffle what, and when.

Storage. Somewhere between a document’s useful span and its total loss

of value lies an gray period when you might need it, but not nearby.

Generally, attorneys are advising businesses to hold onto all

financial and transactional records for seven years. This rule of

thumb fits the state and IRS tax codes, and several legal statues as

well. Professionals who deal with patients or clients under age 18

should store their records until they are 18, plus another seven

years. Retail credit receipts require only a 90-day retention.

Exactly what to store has provided records managers with endless hours

of debate. But DiMarino offers one statistic born of experience. Only

five to eight percent of all documents stored are ever retrieved for

any reason. The unnecessary remainder gather dust. "Most firms could

be a lot more strict in their selection process," he says.

After selecting what to store, it is necessary to decide how to store

it. Here, the most old-fashioned method may be the best in the long

term, and is often the least expensive alternative. A box of papers

can be stored for 100 years in a fireproof vault more cheaply than

transferring them to microfiche, microfilm, or any of the cyber

methods. Even the Durable CD is now estimated to have a life span of

only 50 years. However, it is technology’s unstoppable advance that is

more likely to render unreadable any electronic backup method in less

than a decade. (How many PCs today still read your ancient floppies?)

Reams of risk. Are there actual nefarious people lurking out there

waiting to kidnap and abuse our unattended documents – or are we just

being paranoid? Twenty years ago, few people ever shredded anything

and information stealing was definitely not a preoccupation. But many

see identity theft and cyber invasion as akin to hijacking – crimes

that were invented on the heels of new technology. Police officials in

many cities are citing identity theft as the fastest growing crime on

their beat.

DiMarino points to the large number of convicted identity thieves who

admit to taking jobs as waiters strictly as a means of gaining access

to customer credit card numbers. DiMarino predicts that in a few years

credit cards will do away with the 16 digit code embossed on the front

and use only the swipe strip. "But until then, the theft of this

number, and the rewards, make it irresistible," he says.

While doctors, lawyers, and accountants may hold valuable private

information about individuals, most businesses, would seem, do not.

Business-to-business firms particularly would appear to print out

little of interest to anyone else. But clients do not necessarily feel

that way.

Hooked on Phonics has recently been accused of violating its

agreements by selling its client list to Gateway. The list had little

more than the names, addresses, and some basic family demographics.

Yet the clients were outraged. And whether that list was sold or

stolen, those people with their personal information being

disseminated to possibly scores of other companies, really don’t care.

They just don’t want it in the public domain.

"People feel rightfully uneasy about giving away personal and

financial information," says Dimarino.

To shred or not. So how do you protect yourself and your customers?

The first step is to clean up your computer before things ever get

printed out. Most libraries install an automatic expunge feature,

which deletes each transaction after it is completed. This foils

anyone who wants to peek into an individual’s private business. Such

expunge software is inexpensive and usually provides a variety of

delete stages.

DiMarino warns that hard drives of old disposed computers should be

removed and broken up, so they cannot be salvaged by hackers.

When it comes to printed paper, DiMarino insists that the method of

destruction should be strictly a matter of cost value – like any other

business decision. He laughs, "you have $350-an-hour lawyers who don’t

answer their phones and wouldn’t dream of getting their coffee or

stationery supplies, but they dutifully shred all their own documents.

They sit with a stack and pass five sheets at a time through their

little office shredder." The reason, of course, is that shredding is

more fun than brewing coffee. But the billed client may not appreciate

the joy. A professional destruction company, after an initial set-up

fee of $500, charges approximately 15.5 cents per pound to turn your

paper into recyclable powder.

Yet destruction is more than a matter of cost. There are three

companies in the U.S. that piece together shredded documents. Three

that we know of. They can pull your shreddings from the dumpster, scan

them into a computer, and in moments reassemble your documents for

profit. If you hire a professional shredding service, make sure they

take the extra step of grinding the paper. It’s better for the

environment and your security.

Of course, for the security obsessed, DocuVault and others will add

the final step of incineration. Company officials can follow the

powdered paper to the fire and watch it burn. "This seems a bit like

overkill,"says DiMarino, "but if it makes them sleep better at night,

it’s probably worth the price."

This year, the average North American will consume nearly 650 pounds

of paper. E-mail does not seem to be making a dent, as our usage

climbs annually. For businesses, an increasing amount of this paper

will contain information customers do not want shared. Those companies

that provide the extra measure of information protection are

displaying not so much paranoia as one final aspect of customer

service. Security, after all, can be a selling point.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Navigating the Teen Years

The day will come when you ask your sweet little boy how his day went

and he will shrug his shoulders and say, simply: "OK," and there will

be no elaboration. To the same question, your darling daughter will

not give you details of what this friend said and what that one wore.

She may even burst out crying. To your entreaties for more

information, your child may say: "Whatever."

Worse, you may have the experience reported by one working mom. A

legal assistant, she kept right on working while her children, all

five of them, progressed from day care through elementary school. Then

one day, right about the time that the two oldest were entering their

teen years, she returned home from work to find a scene right out of

the Old West. Two of her brood were standing astride the couch arms,

clutching bows, and pointing arrows at their fleeing siblings. She

quit work the next day, and only returned when the baby left for

college.

Most parents, of course, do manage to keep their teens safe, happy,

and productively occupied while they work. The key to doing so may

well lie in establishing – and abiding by – boundaries, while, at the

same time, working constantly at smooth communication. Scott Albert,

MSW, says that is possible to forge a mutually-trusting relationship

with your teen. He leads a two-session course in "Navigating the Teen

Years" at Mercer County Community College’s continuing education

program on Thursday, July 22 and July 29, at 6 p.m.. Cost: $48.

Register at 609-586-9446.

A former counselor at the Lawrenceville School, Albert is married with

a 12-year-old of his own. He currently works at the Princeton Center

for Leadership and is also in private practice.

The biggest challenge for parents, says Albert, is that for the first

12 years of our children’s lives we’ve been working from a model that

goes out the window once they enter adolescence. "From ages one to

six, we are our children’s primary teacher. Then from ages 6 to 12 we

move into the role of administrator, while still serving as teachers.

But by this time, they recognize that they have another teacher too.

As parents, we become more life skills teachers."

The problem, Albert says, is that parents "get pretty accustomed to

their roles. And then the formula changes and we don’t change that

well. We talk to our children as though we’re still in those old roles

and they tune us out. They want something different, but we don’t know

what to do."

"Within a family there is a dance to your relationship with your

kids," says Albert. "Change the dance, and you break the trance." The

trance, he says is about breaking the unconscious routine that you get

into with your kids. "As an adult, you have to take charge of

renegotiating in your own mind the role you play. Your child may be

trying to tell you that it’s not working. But bottom line, that

information hasn’t been incorporated."

What kids want, Albert asserts, is a parent in the role of

navigator/coach. "We need to modify our communication with our

children" in order to open up new possibilities with them.

"So often in the hustle and bustle we make promises we don’t deliver

on," Albert says. "We become overwhelmed and we misalign our

priorities." By the time they’re adolescents, "kids have an idea of

what mom and dad deliver on. The more inconsistency, the less value

there is to communicate with the parent."

Albert uses Stephen Covey’s model of the emotional bank account to

illustrate the point. "In essence, you’re either making a deposit or a

withdrawal into the account with your child. Overall the relationship

still remains positive if you develop more emotional accountability."

So how do you do that?

Be your word. Being your word, says Albert is "following through on

your commitments." If you don’t "over time we lose our reliability

factor. If we chastise them for their unreliability, then we add

hypocrisy to the judgments they make about us."

For example: "If they say: "I’ve asked you five times to take me to

the mall and something always comes up," acknowledge that you haven’t

followed through. Then follow through with integrity by doing what you

say you’ll do."

This goes for discipline too. If they don’t like their curfew, you can

listen to them – Albert suggests that you "be receptive to listening

to the child without judgment" while making sure that you stand firm

on what you value. To the curfew issue he says you can tell your

child: "I understand you don’t like the curfew, but that’s not

negotiable." Then, stick to it.

Incorporate feedback. Define your expectations with your children, but

be sure to stay in conversation to "evaluate and renegotiate.

Incorporate feedback from the teen. They want to be heard." Even if

you don’t "give in," if you’re really listening and acknowledging

them, you’re breaking the unconscious routine of parent as dictator

and moving into parent as coach.

Know what matters. "Most of us need time to really clarify what our

values are. Most of us," Albert says, are living all areas of our

lives, including how we parent "on the fly. Process your values.

Clarify them."

"Slow down life," he suggests. "Open up new possibilities of

conversation with your children." And at some point you might want to

mention that there is absolutely no target practice in the living

room.

– Deb Cooperman

Top Of Page
Writing Winning Grant Proposals

A grant proposal is not a document – it is a campaign. The care,

thought, and planning you invest in each step of your campaign will

directly affect your odds of reeling in a piece of the $486 billion

given away by government and private sources annually in America.

The four-day seminar "How to Win Grants," beginning on Monday, July

26, at 8:30 a.m. at the Hilton Hotel in Hasbrouck Heights aims to

improve the odds for grant applicants. Cost: $659. Call 803-750-9759.

The course is taught by South Carolina-based Research Associates,

which boasts a 90 percent success rate for its clients over the past

25 years.

Research Associates director of publicity and training, Kourtnay King,

who will be heading up the July seminar, notes how often grant seekers

fail to see the full scope of their undertaking. Since her youth in

Charleston, South Carolina, King was schooled in the ways of grant

makers. Her academic father and mother, employed by a local

non-profit, each gained outside funding for their projects from both

the public and private sectors.

After earning a B.A. in English from South Carolina’s Columbia

College, she put her career on hold for three years, "waiting tables

and learning what was out there." Two years ago she put both her

writing and evaluating talents to use by joining Research Associates.

King invariably presents grant seekers with a long, multi-step outline

that sends applicants back, beyond themselves, and into the community

they want to serve.

Selecting your mission. Set aside all those possible sources of

funding; set aside even your own organization and its capabilities for

a moment. Turn back and re-examine that community or group of people

you first sought to help, or the original rationale for your research.

Seek out the need – it may surprise you.

When great benefactor Andrew Carnegie came to Princeton University, he

examined all of the college’s requirements and decided what it really

needed was a lake that would encourage rowing and wean the boys away

from the barbarity of football.

While you probably will not want to trust your gut whimsy as much as

the grand Carnegie did, look hard. You never know. King suggests

professionally surveying the population or the field you aim to aid.

Get the input from those seeking your solutions.

Once you have discovered several needs, list the methods by which your

organization is able, and willing, to help. Only after you have your

own mission solidly fixed in all your members’ minds can you begin the

hunt for grantors. Tailoring your program to the grantor makes you

just a general beggar, and it will show.

"In examining the many grantors, I cannot stress strongly enough that

people look at what each agency specifically wants to fund," insists

King.

Looking into sources of funds. Most libraries have innumerable volumes

describing public and private funding agencies. Somewhere out there

are patrons designed to fund your individual program. The New York

organization www.FoundationCenter.org will lead you to the most

comprehensive lists. The Foundation Center also provides grant writing

seminars, open discussions with grantors, and encourages walk-ins at

its Manhattan offices.

King suggests funds seekers check the IRS foundation listings. Since

every private foundation must register, it is a good way to hunt up

some of the more obscure patrons. Additionally, every good public and

academic library holds both hard copy and online files on public and

private grantors, all cross indexed. Remember, your mission pie may

best be funded by slicing it up among several donors.

Assembling the team. Grant proposal preparation calls for just the

right number of cooks, each with his own specialty. Ideally, each

responsibility is relegated to an individual expert, but organization

size may dictate some doubling up.

The overall team captain need not be the best at anything, except

managing. You will need a surveyor who knows how to obtain good

statistics, and how to define your mission. Through the course of the

project, he can determine how well the project is succeeding. A

numbers cruncher/bookkeeper should be assigned the job of soliciting

the various costs and translating them into a budget. Throughout the

project, a number of people can act as researchers, unearthing data on

potential grantors, possible tools, and workers for your effort. They

can feed the writers a constant flow of information.

An overall grant author should oversee all the writing to make it flow

smoothly as if from a single voice. King prefers to have several

writers providing their expertise along with several reviewers giving

their take on the final form. A computer wizard is also essential, as

is a general gofer, who can answer the call: "Help, we are out of

toner, who is going to get some at this hour?"

Study the RFP compulsively. You have selected your mission, applied to

a grantor, and now his thick RFP (request for proposal) lands on your

desk. "Slowly, carefully, read it five times through. Make notes and

list questions. Pass it along to every member of the grant team and

others in your company. Then take it back, and read it five times

more," says King.

Do not annoy the grantor. Once you have a solid comprehension of the

RFP, bundle up all your questions into a single E-mail and send them

to the grantor. (E-mail, rather than phone allows for an easy, written

response.) Please, do not annoy the grantor by dribbling in daily

queries.

Now comes the tricky part, which grant advisors love to debate. How

much phone or personal contact do you try to make with the grantor?

Many experienced applicants insist you should always try to establish

a personal relationship with at least one member of the grantor’s

staff. A bit more cautious, King feels that "while it certainly cannot

hurt to have friends in high places, you do not want to pester the

people you are asking for money." In the end, this is something the

grant seeker must feel his way through, but better to err on the side

of reticence.

Starting to write. No sweet, lyrical piece of prose will seduce folks

into pouring cash into a bad project. However, the best of projects

can be foiled by a shoddily written proposal. King suggests a steady,

flowing narrative style. "Clarity" and "spoon-feed your reader" are

good mottos. Received as one of hundreds, your proposal will be

briefly scanned by evaluators under time pressure, so aim for a ninth

grade reading level. And please – no jargon. It only lets the grantors

know that you are eagerly to impress them. While you never want to

plead, it is all right to become emotional and convince readers of the

sincerity of your passion.

Achieving a look. Presentation is often as effective as content in the

proposal. "You want to demonstrate that you are professional, without

appearing slick," advises King. If you are a non-profit, perhaps your

charts might be better received in an appropriately frugal black and

white. If you are a corporation, your potential grantor already knows

you can afford a color copier, so go ahead and compete with bright

colors.

Even font style can be persuasive, as does finding that ideal depth of

detail, (somewhere between fully explained and exhaustively boring).

Finally, and probably most important, have you answered every question

as the grantor asked it? Don’t assume that any question doesn’t apply.

Throughout the life of your project, continued evaluation should be

maintained. Frequently, though not always, the grantor demands

periodic reports on monies spent and results achieved. For your own

records alone, it is worthwhile to establish such a self-evaluation

schedule. Noting in the proposal that you plan to share your own

evaluation reports provides a nice competitive edge. At the very

least, it will sustain a track record with the grantor and improves

your odds when you return with your hat in your hand next year.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Careers in Grant Writing

Watch any episode of television’s "West Wing" and you will walk away

with one constant moral: persuasive writing matters – and it pays

well. Perhaps few understand this unobtrusive truth as thoroughly as

the writers of grant proposals. Along with the grant administrators

and evaluators, they are the ones who help steer the big money as it

transfers from patron to grantee. And often it rubs off. While the top

successful corporate grant-getters can pull down $200,000 annual

salaries, certain independents have been known to trouser $40,000 for

a mere 10 hours work. Not a bad day’s pay for a wordsmith.

Yet grant writing is scarcely a financial panacea, allowing every

starving novelist to drive around in a Mercedes while waiting for

Random House to accept his magnum opus. For most, grant preparation

provides either a nice supplement or an acceptable wage. According to

a national survey taken by Research Associates, a grantmaking firm

with headquarters in Columbia, South Carolina, the average

professional grant writer across America earns from $35,000 to

$45,000. East Coast writers will find more competition yet more

remuneration.

On the other side of the table, grant administrators – managers

employed by foundations and other patrons – earned nationally $45,000

to $60,000 on average, but substantially more in the West and

Northeast. Grant evaluators, those on the grantor’s staff who review

stacks of applications, bring home about $10,000 less annually than

their administrator bosses.

Experience, as in so many fields, seems to be the key to higher

salaries. Grant writers with a 20-year track record, nationally ranged

from $45,000 to $60,000, while more than a third of those in the trade

for only three years were commanding under $35,000. Likewise, most

20-year grant evaluators had graduated to the $60,000 to $75,000

level.

Yet very few companies, whether for-profit or non-profit, employ a

person solely to write grants. In l975, Anne Black stepped out of the

University of South Carolina with an M.S. in biostatistics and

databases. She eased into the office of her first job in a large

private firm all prepared to do federal healthcare reporting and was

told, "Oh, by the way, you are also our grant writer." More than a

little stunned, she realized that management’s decision was based on

her swift access to numbers and research data. It seems to have

worked. Today, she is a senior grant writer for Research Associates

with an enviable batting average.

Municipalities are increasingly eying the governmental and private

funding fountains and assigning grantmaking as a fixed part of the

duties to qualified employees. Former South Brunswick police officer

Ron Schmalz in 2000 doffed his uniform and became that town’s public

relations coordinator for a salary of $53,333. High on his job

description was responsibility for finding, landing and often writing

the township’s grant applications. While his current remuneration

represents no great leap over an average police officer, it does

afford Schmalz occupational variety.

While some people, like Schmalz, take jobs that require extensive

grant writing, may others go out on their own, establishing a

freelance specialty in grant writing. Mark Leckington, founding

partner of Community Grants & Planning in East Windsor, has been

writing grants on his own in the central New Jersey area for 11 years.

The towns of Hightstown, East and West Windsor, Princeton, Hopewell,

Ewing, South Brunswick, and Hamilton all owe him thanks for the

millions of dollars he has directed into their coffers.

"Over the past five years," Leckington notes, "we have fully saturated

about four small, distinct markets, because everything in this

business is so word of mouth. Neighbors talk. One township will hear

of what we have gained for the town next door, and will call us." This

folksy marketing approach prevails nationwide primarily because

municipalities and not-for-profit organizations have an instinctive

repugnance for slick advertising.

For the grant writer getting started this means that it is probably

not necessary to spend a lot of money on advertising. However, no one

knocks on your door. Like old-time lawyers before the strictures on

commercial ads were lifted, you must get out in the community, join

groups, hustle, and make your presence known. Then, when you set your

rates, remember that for each billable hour spent writing a grant

proposal, you have probably spent one hour marketing your expertise.

Of the oceans of writers’ associations, probably the only one whose

website is likely to net your personal classified a solid

grant-writing hit is the Editorial Freelancers Association,

www.the-EFA.org.

Since grant preparation involves researchers, accountants, surveyors,

computer wizards, and community experts as well as good authors, the

team approach has become the most popular. As in theatrical

production, the writer plays only one vital part. Typically, people

bring one or two skills to the work of writing grant applications. As

a young high school techie, Leckington used to help out at his uncle’s

real estate office in Ewing. One day in l989 he wandered next door and

discovered elderly grant writer Charles Nathander tapping away on a

typewriter. Soon Leckington rolled up his sleeves and helped

Nathander’s shop computerize. In return, the older man taught

Leckington the trade that has become his career.

Leaving Mercer College with his degree unfinished, Leckington joined

with Randall Gottesman and opened Community Grants & Planning in l993.

Today the firm boasts a home run average in the high eight-hundreds

for its mostly municipal clients. "Part of that record is due to our

pre-reviewing process," says Leckington. "We always advise people

against making highly improbable applications."

The skills. Since every application is a complex and individual

entity, the skills vary. "Certainly strong writing ability is prime,"

says Leckington, "but it alone is not enough to carry you through."

Attorneys, professional planners, and published writers all work on

Community Grants’ staff, full or part time.

"Probably the most important skill is the ability to envision the

need," says states Leckington. Frequently the grant writer is less a

hired gun than a problem solver who must come up with an answer for an

unsure client. Hone to a sharp edge that magic capacity to interview

well and analyze beyond the words.

Research Associates’ senior grant writer Black goes a bit further and

states that a good grant writer needs compassion. "He needs to carry

around his portable soap box, and find where the grass roots are," she

says. Also, she adds, do not neglect your budgetary training. Black

has found that most grantors absolutely feast upon detailed

accounting. More detail than less is her motto. Thus even if the

application budget is assembled by an accountant, you, the writer must

be totally conversant with it.

Since the training is broad, very little is official. The National

Association of Grant Writers is a loose confederation that eases in an

out of activity from time to time. On the East Coast, the would-be

grant writer can find training at The Foundation Center, 75 Fifth

Avenue, in Manhattan; 212-620-4230; www.FoundationCenter.org. This

nationwide organization primarily links grant seekers with grantors,

but it also offers extensive courses in grant preparation, and career

opportunities. Its website even features available in-house positions.

Research Associates also offers an extensive training course at many

locations on the East Coast. Their four-day seminar costs $629. Call

870-750-9759.

Once you have trained yourself with this rather eclectic and vague

list of skills, you will still have to scare up your own clientele.

Leckington estimates it takes about five years to establish a solid

customer base. But the individual writer seeking just to dabble and

gain supplemental income need not wait so long.

Most application preparing firms charge by the billing hour, or quote

a flat fee based on the type of grant. Percentage rates are frowned

upon and can earn you a bad reputation in a hurry. Leckington cites

the case of a one-person company in northern New Jersey that took on

the very easy application for road improvement for one town. The town

was awarded the $400,000, but it could not afford his 10 percent fee.

"In the end, the town had to refuse the award, and give back to the

state the whole $400,000 for want of this guy’s bill," Leckington

says.

In short, grant writing provides a marvelously varied career for the

perceptive generalist. You can bite off a piece, or take on a whole

project; get into the field full or part time. Locally, Community

Grants and Planning welcomes new and able candidates, 609-371-1937;

www.CGPlan.com. All you need is a good pen and a portable soapbox.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Space for All

What are the odds of your going to the moon? About the same as the

odds of late-l9th century tourists making it to the South Pole. Yet

less than a century after the first footprint in l911, tourists,

researchers, and trekkers line up by the thousands to comfortably

abide on the foreboding expanses where Roald Admunsen first stood –

and where Robert F. Scott died. Clearly, the pioneers have gone and

the homesteaders have moved in. Perhaps lunar landings too are not so

far from the public’s grasp.

By what steps will the extraterrestrial realms shift from the

explorer’s to the traveler’s venue? This is one of the questions

considered in "Space: New Missions and Opportunities" on Tuesday, July

27, at 5 p.m., a New Jersey Technology Council event taking place at

the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Cost: $40. Visit

www.NJTC.org.

This roundtable includes Michael Paluszek, president of Princeton

Satellite Systems, and Lewis Mixler, director of technology transfer

for Princeton Plasma Physics Labs. As well as discussing how our

society will progress spaceward, these NASA-connected veterans outline

the broad spectrum of career opportunities for those seeking to

participate in such missions.

NASA is the hub, but she reaches everywhere for help. Prior to each

launch, the agency solicits every corner of the private sector. Its

latest mission is to return to the moon, with an eye toward expanding

planetary exploration. In response, Princeton Satellite Systems has

bid on the full CER (concept, exploration, and refinement) package.

Along with more than 1,000 other competing firms, Paluszek and his

crew have wholly conceptualized how the mission will run. Their plans

detail the main transport and all support vehicles used. They have

presented total cost models, along with each individual factor from

how much fuel to what kind of technicians will be required.

So what is Princeton Satellite’s model? "That’s privileged," says

Paluszek. "NASA doesn’t begin reviewing until September. Everything’s

a secret until then."

This step into space is scarcely a bold new venture for either the

12-year-old Princeton Satellite Systems, based at 33 Witherspoon

Street, or its founder/president. Raised by a mechanical engineer

father, Paluszek grew up in Westchester, New York and Toronto,

eventually finding an academic home at the Massachusetts Institute of

Technology. Earning a B.S. in electrical engineering in l976, he

earned graduate degrees in aeronautical engineering, and then in

astronomical engineering.

"Those were the days of the great mid 1970s fuel crunch," Paluszek

recalls. "The government had funded many of us to work on fuel

enhancement and alternative energy sources. Then the crunch vanished

and so did the funding."

Moving across Cambridge’s Kendall Square to the Draper Laboratories,

Paluszek took up work on navigational systems for space shuttle

vehicles. He came to central New Jersey to join the then-GE Astro team

as one of its principal designers of satellite control systems, such

as the GPS Polar. By l992 West Windsor’s GE Astro plant had seen

several new logos, and owners, and Paluszek decided to strike out on

his own. Today his Princeton Satellite Systems creates a variety of

software for NASA and for private space launch companies.

Exactly how far we will go into space Paluszek sees as a social,

rather than a technological question. Surely, it was international

competition that drove technology and pushed us to put a man on the

moon. And, in his opinion, it must be society’s needs and desires that

will motivate the next steps.

Support and subsidy. "The whole reason the public became

disinterested in space launches from the mid-1970s through the

early-1990s is that people saw space as forever relegated to a few

astronauts," says Paluszek. The original space shuttles, designed to

shatter that vision, proved so expensive and so slow to turn around

that the astronauts-only perception only grew stronger. As a result,

NASA’s funding slackened and the desperate agency was forced to hit

the public relations trail.

"Every major mode of transportation is subsidized," Paluszek points

out. Large scale transport requires government aid. Most folks agree

that a high speed rail trail would be a marvelous thing, especially

for America’s coasts. Two hours from Boston or Washington to central

Manhattan would help literally millions. The technology exists, but

the railway does not, simply because no single company could gain all

the easements, lay the track, establish the stations, and still make a

profit. The government would have to vote to pitch in.

A matter of infrastructure. Does NASA have a vision that the public

will vote to support? Paluszek thinks so. The concept of offering a

broader access to space will fire the public’s imagination, he

believes. When a man thinks, "Well, maybe not for me, but definitely

for my children…" he is very inclined to back this journey.

Backing the journey of great numbers into space means paying for the

infrastructure. Facilities for many lunar trips, in reasonable-sized,

newly modified vehicles, launched from many areas, would have to be

established, and so would receiving services at the destination. "This

is going to be a bigger bill to swallow than most previous transport

systems," warns Paluszek, "because it all comes in one chunk." Citing

the analogy of today’s vast air transport system, he says, "Imagine if

we had only a few 747s flying, only for military use. Now suppose you

wanted to expand that into a nationwide or global air passenger

service. Think of establishing all the airports, the connecting links,

the flight controllers." The lists (and costs) go on endlessly. But

the technology exists.

Your chance to participate. As NASA encourages us back to the moon in

greater numbers, career opportunities abound. "Every technical field,

from software creator to hardware engineers, up to all kinds of

managers will be required," Paluszek says. Inventors who can design

everything from specialized hand tools to comfortable sleep chambers

could find themselves bankrolled. Public relations professionals will

explain each new step to an anxious audience Research and development

experts in nutrition and robotics as well as mass manufacturers will

find a profitable niche.

While the sleep chamber design jobs are not available right away,

those seeking to put groceries on their earthly tables immediately

might want to take a look at www. sbir.gsfc.nasa.gov to determine what

NASA wants through its Small Business Innovation Research program. The

site displays its full list of current projects and individual

opportunities.

Laying the track. Back when NASA and other defense agencies had set up

satellite infrastructure for possible commercial use, Pan Am rolled

the dice. It invested the $50 million it cost and launched its own

communications satellite, selling the links to television stations. It

is arguably the best investment the firm ever made. Today, virtually

anyone with a spare $50 million can launch a satellite, with estimated

returns running $100 million annually.

"If we create the space travel infrastructure, people will find

reasons to go; just like intercontinental flights," Paluszek assures

us. He foresees great potential in research, mining, and other

industry. The elements exist, many say, to make rocket fuel on the

moon. Imagine the leap if space transport were not tethered to its

earthly base by a fuel hose. The possibilities exist, and if we

choose, technology will follow. It’s the taxpayers’ call.

– Bart Jackson

Corrections or additions?


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— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.

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