Ken Shields
Director of Flight Operations
Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)


Ken Shields: Engaging America in the Excitement of the International Space Station

Space and cosmos exploration. These words alone are enough to conjure up images of science and engineering at its best. Ken Shields, as Director of Flight Operations and Educational Opportunities for the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), is responsible for translating that excitement into multiple ways that help enable the International Space Station (ISS) develop groundbreaking new technologies that tangibly affect our lives.

NASA in 2011 chose CASIS to be the sole manager of ISS´s U.S. National Laboratory. “This granted CASIS the responsibility of inciting the imagination of entrepreneurs and scientists alike,” says Ken. CASIS is also charged with accelerating and facilitating space-based research, creating public awareness of National Lab research and making space science more accessible to the world, he adds.

In this framework at CASIS, Ken´s job includes identifying appropriate funding, technology partners and other resources for facilitating the space station´s payload development, testing, integration and successful execution of flight projects. Additionally, Ken directs a broad spectrum of space-related education and training programs for students, teachers and the general public by leveraging the ISS National Lab as a novel education platform.

One such school-based initiative this year was a CASIS-sponsored contest in microgravity research in which high school students — working in teams — designed and tested space-related experiments that studied the effects of simulated gravity on bacterial lag phase in a micro-gravitational environment.

This project involved implementing principles of biology, mechanical engineering and coding, and was intended to get students “thinking again about science, engineering and math,” says Ken. “It’s very much real world, project-based team learning. We think this kind of learning is vital.”

Through management positions with private commercial companies in the fields of intermodal transportation and third party logistics, Ken brings to CASIS more than 20 years of expertise and experience in specialized logistics, project management, customer service, and business operations.

Ken received his B.S. degree from the University of Tennessee in Transportation and Logistics with a minor in Management.

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