About HyNet

Director's Message


History of HyNet

The HyNet submitted a proposal to NASA Headquarters in 1991 in response to a solicitation for a University-based Center for the Commercial Development of Space (CCDS). The proposal was awarded to the University of Maryland team amidst strong competition, and on November 1, 1991, the HyNet officially began. The thrust area for the HyNet was the area of hybrid communication networks—combining space-based satellite communication networks with terrestrial-based communication networks. The HyNet was co-directed by Dr. John Baras and Dr. Anthony Ephremides. Other founding faculty included Dr. Evaggelos Geraniotis, Dr. Armand Makowski and Dr. Prakash Narayan. Tim Kirkwood was hired as the Assistant Director for Commercialization.

The team immediately began making calls to representatives of the satellite communications industry to establish relationships. Soon the HyNet had established an advisory board. The HyNet also reached out to other universities, partnering with West Virginia University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Colorado. The HyNet utilized a State of Maryland program named the Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program to establish one of its first collaborative efforts. This effort involved research in the area of Hybrid Network Simulation and Management with Hughes Network Systems (HNS) of Germantown, MD. Together the HyNet and HNS submitted a proposal to MIPS that was awarded. MIPS contributed $70K and HNS contributed $70K. After that initial award, the HyNet was off and running.

In the summer of 1994, the HyNet received its first peer review. NASA authorized the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) to review all of the CCDSs. The HyNet passed the review with flying colors, achieving the best result possible—continuation of the program for at least three more years with no additional reviews. As a result of a recommendation by the NAPA review team, the HyNet evolved to a single directorship with Dr. John Baras as director.

In early 1996, under a directive from the NASA Administrator, all technical programs were no longer to be managed from NASA Headquarters and were parceled out to the most appropriate NASA field center. HyNet management authority was transferred to the Satellite Networks and Architectures Branch of the Communications Technology Division at NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

In October 1998, the HyNet was reviewed once again by NAPA under the direction of NASA. Once again the HyNet was rated as outstanding. The HyNet has grown substantially in the years since November 1991. The HyNet has participated in several projects that have led to commercial achievements such as the DirecPC product from Hughes Network Systems (HNS). The HyNet now receives substantial contributions from numerous companies and government agencies (particularly NASA and organizations within the Department of Defense). The Industry Advisory Board continues to provide significant guidance and revenue in the form of Industrial Affiliates Program membership dues as well as directed research funds. In return, the HyNet provides Industrial Affiliates Program members certain benefits such as immediate access to research results, access to manpower in the form of student graduates and summer internships, and continuing education for company employees via workshops and short courses. The beneficial relationship also provides companies access to faculty expertise in the booming area of communications networking.