Hypersonic Atmospheric Reentry Deceleration Experiment (HARDE); Employment after Incarceration: Career Paths in Firefighting Following Release in California

Auld, Emma, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Goyne, Chris, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Rogers, Hannah, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

Reframing a problem can be as much a tool as it is a solution. If the problem is reframed successfully, a desired solution, achieving one’s goals, can become the only solution. Reframing the problem can also make a complicated situation a much simpler one, providing clarity in a mess of confusion. Luchins (1942) experimentally demonstrated humans’ tendency to persist in applying habitual but deficient problem frames, despite the consequent failures. He called the effect “mechanization in problem solving.” Luchins warned that in problem solving, “when ... instead of the individual mastering the habit, the habit masters the individual – then mechanization is indeed a dangerous thing” (p. 93). The successes of changing this pattern and reframing the problem can be seen across the sociotechnical spectrum.
Due to extreme pressures and temperatures, replicating hypersonic flows (flows at or exceeding Mach 5) in wind tunnels is difficult; flows approaching Mach 25 are extraordinarily difficult and expensive to replicate (Matthews & Rhudy, 1994). However, a body launched into space would accelerate to hypersonic speed back towards the surface by force of gravity. The accelerating body could transmit valuable data to Earth for study. Reframing the issue of recreating hypersonic conditions from one of wind tunnels to that of a space mission allowed for an unexpected design that fulfilled all requirements. The mission design has now been developed all the way through to a conceptual design review, the last step before physical designs begin. This mission has given insight into a different approach to problems such as these, problems likely found in the corporate world of engineering.
In California, an average of 7,800 fires burn 2.5 million acres of forest per year (CalFire, 2021). A large firefighting force is required to keep residents and property safe. The state already employs the services of inmate firefighting crews, but until recently, released inmates were barred from service in the civilian sector. This restriction deprived the state of the services of experienced firefighters, and was a hardship on many former inmates. In 2020 a coalition of advocacies and other social groups organized to lift the restriction, to the benefit of the state and many of its citizens. By successfully reframing the issue of wildfires imposed on the state of California to that of numbers, a need for more firefighters out in the field, criminal justice advocates were able to achieve their goal of providing employment opportunities to previously incarcerated individuals. The use of reframing was essential to the lobbying efforts by these groups, who demonstrated that by changing the problem, they could hand politicians and the public a solution that benefited all. Using the solution to reframe the problem gave insight into a technique that could be used by many across the nation.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
hypersonics, cubesat, space mission design, AB 2147, California prison system, inmate firefighters

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering

Technical Advisor: Dr. Christopher Goyne

STS Advisor: Dr. Hannah Rogers

Technical Team Members: Hannah Boyles, Taylor Chandler, Yulie Cheng, Carsten Connolly, Noah Dunn, Joshua Franklin, Samuel Goodkind, Amy Lee, Andrew Metro, Isaac Morrison, Charlie Osborne, Carlos Perez, Vincint Tate, Micah Whitmire

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