Outstanding Aerospace Engineers Award 2013

The Purdue University designation Outstanding Aerospace Engineer recognizes the professional contributions of graduates from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and thanks them for the recognition that their success brings to Purdue and the School.

The School is pleased to honor five graduates of AAE with the designation "Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award." The award banquet will take place on Friday September 13, 2013.

Criteria for the Award state that recipients must have demonstrated excellence in industry, academia, governmental service, or other endeavors that reflect the value of an aerospace engineering degree. The 165 OAE's represent just over 2% of the more than 7000 alumni of the School.

Congratulations to our 2013 Outstanding Aerospace Engineers

G. Porter Bridwell


Center Director-NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (Retired)

Purdue provided the foundation for my career development.

Mr. G. Porter Bridwell graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering in 1958. He was the seventh Director of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center located in Huntsville, Alabama. He served as Director from January 6, 1994 to February 3, 1996.

Before becoming Director of the Marshall Center, he served as Manager of the Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle Definition Office, where he supervised efforts involving the proposed vehicle's design, development, and integration. He also served on special assignment with the Space Station Redesign Team and later the U.S./Russian Space Station Integration Team. Previously, he served as Manager of the Shuttle Projects Office. There he managed the Shuttle's propulsion elements, including the Space Shuttle Main Engine, External Tank, Redesigned Solid Rocket Motor, Solid Rocket Booster, Advanced Solid Rocket Motor, and related systems and activities, including the Michoud Assembly Facility.

He began his professional career as an engineer with Rocketdyne in Canoga Park, California. He joined the Marshall Center in 1962, and his early experience included assignments within the former Saturn Systems Office and Saturn V Program Office. In 1975, he transferred to the Projects Office and served in key positions including Chief, Project Engineering Office, and Deputy Manager, External Tank Project. In February 1983, he was appointed Manager of the External Tank Project.

In the spring of 1987, he served temporarily as Acting Deputy Center Director, National Space Technology Laboratories in Mississippi and was appointed Director of Institutional and Program Support at the Marshall Center in October 1988. He assumed the position of Manager, Shuttle Projects Office, in May 1989.

In January 1990, Bridwell became the Director of National Launch Systems for NASA Headquarters, co-located at the Marshall Center. In February 1992, he transferred back to the Marshall Center from Headquarters, where he assumed his post as Manager of the Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle Definition Office.

Jeffrey D. Deckelbaum


Vice President, Boeing Defense, Space & Security

I am privileged to be in my 37th year of working in Aerospace with a wide breadth of engineering experience in Fixed Wing Military Aircraft, Rotorcraft Commercial Derivatives and Weapons Systems. During that time, I have been part of many major Development, Production and Sustainment programs for our DoD and International customers. While I developed my passion for airplanes as a young teen, it was my education at Purdue University that provided the foundation for my career of which there have been many accomplishments, highlights and recognitions. Looking forward, I am committed to professional development of our workforce and encouraging today's students to pursue careers in Engineering

Mr. Jeff Deckelbaum earned his Bachelor's degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue in 1977. He also holds a M.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from San Diego State University and a M.S. degree in Business Administration from Washington University.

Mr. Deckelbaum is the Vice President/Chief Engineer for Boeing Military Aircraft. In this position he is responsible for engineering integrity of the Boeing Military Aircraft products. The organization's major product categories are Global Strike, Mobility, Surveillance & Engagement and Missiles & Unmanned Airborne Systems.

Most recently, Mr. Deckelbaum served as the vice president of Product Support for Boeing Defense, Space & Security and vice president of Engineering for Global Services & Support. This dual role was intended to more closely integrate the Product Support function with BDS Engineering and Mission Assurance, as well as the corporate Engineering, Operations and Technology organization.

Mr. Deckelbaum joined the company in 1979 as a strength engineer. He advanced through the Engineering organization, holding various Technology and Management assignments on the AV-8B, T-45 and Advanced Tactical Fighter programs. He also held positions in Quality and in the New Aircraft Products Division, now part of the company's Phantom Works organization.

In 1995, he was named deputy division head of Production Engineering and subsequently was promoted to division director of Information Systems. He served as the Chief Engineer for the F-15 program and later was named program manager of the T-38 program.

Edward A. Morris


Vice President, National Center for Defense Manufacturing (NCDMM), and Director, National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII)

I am deeply honored to be named an Outstanding Aerospace Engineer 2013. Driven by a desire that began in my early teenage years to become an aerospace engineer, the incredible people that define Purdue University made that dream a reality. As I reflect on my personally rewarding career and the phenomenal privilege of serving our nation in the aerospace and defense industry, my cherished time at Purdue University was fundamental in setting me on a vector for success in engineering, business and life

Mr. Edward Morris graduated from Purdue with a Bachelor's degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 1971 and holds an MBA from the University of Texas at Arlington.

He joined the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM) in February, 2013 as Vice President and Director of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII). Previously Mr. Morris was the Director of Mechanical Engineering & Manufacturing on the Lockheed Martin Corporate Engineering & Technology team. Reporting to the Vice President of Engineering, he worked with the Business Areas to develop and maintain the mechanical engineering skill set and tools necessary to efficiently design and manufacture Lockheed Martin's portfolio of products.

Mr. Morris is an active member of the National Defense Industrial Association's Manufacturing Division and Executive Committee, having served three two-year terms as the Division Chairman. He represents industry on the DoD ManTech Program Strategic Planning Working Group and the Joint Defense Manufacturing Technology Panel's Electronics Subpanel and Advanced Manufacturing Engineering Subpanel. He is also member of the National Academies' National Materials and Manufacturing Board.

Prior national leadership activities include membership in the Aerospace Industries Association's Engineering Management Committee and the joint industry/government Pb-free Electronics Risk Management Consortium Steering Committee. He has served as a member of the Industrial Advisory Boards for the Navy Electronics Manufacturing Productivity Facility, the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering Electronic Products and Systems Consortium at the University of Maryland, the National Science Foundation Center for Advanced Vehicle and Extreme Environment Electronics at Auburn University, and the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for Lasers and Plasmas.

Mr. Morris has more than 40 years of defense, commercial and international aerospace industry experience with emphasis on program management, engineering, procurement, and manufacturing. His previous employment includes: Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Bell Aerospace Textron, Rediffusion Simulation, Inc., Bell Helicopter-Textron, and LTV Aerospace and Defense. Mr. Morris is a nationally recognized leader in advanced manufacturing technology.

George M. Palmer


Professor Emeritus, School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University

Purdue provided me with not only an excellent technical education, but many other values on interacting with people and groups to carry through life

Professor Emeritus George Palmer has been an integral part of campus since first coming to Purdue University as an undergraduate student in September 1941. As an undergraduate, he joined Acacia Fraternity and the Purdue Band under the Directorship of Paul "Spotts" Emrick where he played trumpet in the Symphonic Band and the Marching Band for two years. His 2nd year he was a Sergeant and Quartermaster.

In 1943, in his junior year, he worked for Prof. Wood as an aerodynamics paper grader. He was made a member of Tau Beta Pi and Pi Tau Sigma and joined the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences. At the end of his junior year he was awarded a Scholarship in the Development Engineering Dept. at Consolidated Vultee Aircraft in San Diego, CA. As a Flight Test Engineer during the multiphase two- semester program, he made several test flights in the single tail and twin tail prototype X-B32 Bomber measuring control force data expanding the airplane envelope. He also worked in Design and Manufacturing of Parts as well as Assembly.

He returned to Purdue for his senior year in 1944 and worked for Prof. Bruhn as a structures paper grader and as an Aerodynamics Instructor teaching in the Curtiss Wright Cadette program.

Through the influence of Prof. Wood and Prof. Bruhn, and that of Prof. "Piston Joe n Liston, Palmer was convinced that he wanted to teach. He received his Bachelor's Degree in Aeronautical Engineering in February 1945 with Distinction.

Following graduation, he returned to Consolidated in San Diego and was assigned to the Stability and Control and Aerodynamics Research Department. There, he worked on the design of the X-B46, a 4 jet 500 mph Bomber until the end of WWII.

He entered the California Institute of Technology Graduate School in September 1946 for his Master's Degree and was excused from their 5th year Graduate Airplane Design Curriculum and allowed to take the 6th year PhD. Theoretical and Supersonic Aerodynamics Major from Profs. Clark Millikan and Hans Liepman. With Minors in Structures, Design of Instruments and Accurate Mechanisms and The Financial Policy of Corporations. During the two semesters he worked for Allen Puckett in the Supersonic Tunnel Laboratory. Dr. Allen Puckettl PhD, CalTech, 1949 under Dr. Von Karman. He took employment with Hughes Aircraft and advanced rapidly to President and then Chairman of the Board. It was a great and valuable experience to work for him.

Upon returning in the fall of 1945, he took another 6th year PhD. Major in Jet Propulsion and Rocketry, taught jointly with JPL personnel, He took a Minor in Kinetic Theory of Gases from the Physics Dept. He was employed by JPL under Prof "Homer Joe" Stewart on the data reduction of the first flight of the WAC Corporal Rocket. WAC stands for Without A Canister, a booster rocket.

His theoretical thesis under Prof. Paco Lagerstrom was entitled The Downwash Distribution Behind a Delta Wing at Supersonic Speed. He was awarded membership in Sigma Xi on the 15th of April 1947. He was awarded the Degree of Aeronautical Engineer from Caltech in June of 1947.

He accepted a position with the School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering in July 1947. He was assigned by Professor Solberg with the rank or Instructor to the proposed Rocket Lab under Prof. M.J. Zucrow to work on the initial design of the Lab and to its use. He was the Labs first full time engineer and in January 1948, he taught the first graduate course on Super Sonic Aerodynamics in the Aero School.

The Aero School was a Dept. under Prof. Solberg with Prof. Bruhn in charge. It did not become a School until 1949 and Dean Potter appointed Prof. Elmer Bruhn the Head of The School of Aeronautical Engineering. One of the graduate students taking the Super Sonic course was a young man whose name was Bruce Reese. When Dr. Zucrow retired, Dr. Reese became Director of the Lab and later became Head of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

While at the Lab, in 1948 Palmer wrote a performance parameter paper on isothermal expansion from the throat of a rocket motor for space propulsion. (It is interesting to note that 11 yeas later Purdue’s Prof. John Sullivan for his Masters thesis at MIT used radio frequency energy to obtain isothermal expansion). Palmer was Editor on an EES publication The Stepped Rocket and Space Travel. He wrote and presented a paper "The Heat Transfer in Ultra High Pressure Liquid Rockets" at an Office of Naval Research meeting. He also designed the Lab's first liquid propelled rocket motor for test stand use.

George Palmer and Patricia Brunton were married on June 18, 1949. They lived in Lafayette where three children were born and in 1960 moved to West Lafayette to be nearer to Purdue. To this day they are still there.

After a number of projects in the development of the Lab, he transferred to the Aero School in 1949 to teach and do aerodynamic research. Prof. Bruhn assigned him to design and complete the wind tunnel project which was planned to be a vertical tunnel with the test section at a balcony level. With Prof. Bruhn's approval he changed it to a horizontal tunnel with the test section accessible at floor level. The Faculty wanted a low turbulence tunnel in order to study boundary layer flow. This required the design of a strong structure to support taut fine screens. He used students for drafting and assembly help, Purdue Physical Plant for any help as needed as well as outside contractors for metal sections to complete this large facility. (One student, John Rich BSAE 1954 was a good welder and he welded major parts of the support system for the shaft and fan. Many years later his outstanding career won him the OAE in 2001).

The wind tunnel was completed by 1950 and provided for many years of student projects. Later, Prof. Palmer configured a 12 foot diameter turn table at the end of the diffuser to the 3 foot by 4.5 test section, and removed the air exchanger, thereby providing an open test section for large buildings. This modification allowed Purdue to become an outstanding higher educational institute for testing of Building Designs and post mortems that occur due to wind. Buildings from throughout the country and internationally with the testing of some 35 buildings such as I. M, Pei's Raffles International Center in Singapore, his John Hancock Building in Boston, his National Gallery of Art in DC. Prof. Palmer also tested the Louisiana's Super Dome, for Sverdrup and Parcel, St. Louis in the McDonnell wind tunnel in St Louis, the American Airlines 747 hanger in the large Lockheed GA wind tunnel. The modification not only allowed testing of tall buildings for pressure distribution and forces, both static and dynamic, but allowed testing of large scale Exxon Mobile Oil and Gas Ships and a variety of Truck models and Greyhound Bus models.

A standard set of Truck models by SAE, accompanied by an Engineer, were sent around the US and Canada and tested in tunnels to evaluate the tunnel's capability. Purdue's tunnel results fell in the middle of all those tested.

Prof. Palmer taught the senior Cap Stone course, Airplane Design from 1955 until 1987. This was taught on a team basis and testing their design in the wind tunnel, a marathon all night effort at the end or the semester with Professor Palmer getting cat naps next to the tunnel. During his 41 years he taught Stability and Control, Airplane Aerodynamics, Jet Propulsion and Rocketry, Space Propulsion and 490, 590 and 690 Special Individual Projects which frequently used the wind tunnel. He received the Outstanding Professor award in 1967 (This later, became The Bruhn Award. In a later year he was one vote short of the winner and should have said "I demanded a recount".

During his tenure at Purdue, Prof. Palmer was a consultant on the design of the air-flow and combustion for asphalt and aggregate mixing machines and for grain drying machines, in both cases stationary and mobile units. He was also a consultant to Allison Division of General Motors on low thrust space propulsion research.

While he was Director of the Aerospace Sciences Lab, he was asked for one year's help to be the Director of the Fluid Mechanics Lab, a division of the Indianapolis Center for Advanced Research (ICFAR) which was managed by Indiana University. This required MWF at ICFAR and TTH at the Aero Space Sciences Lab.

Upon retiring from Purdue in 1987, he took a position of Vice President for Research and Development with Dynamic Corporation of Montmorenci, IN, a manufacturer of large electrical resistance Grids for dynamic braking for GM EMD, GE Electromotive and Asea Brown Boveri. The six mega watts of heat produced required powerful fans, or blowers, to keep the Grids from melting. Prof. Palmer has co-publications in the SAE Transactions Scientific American and AIAA.

He was asked by the Vice President of Tri State University in Angola, IN to interview for the position of Dean of Engineering. The two previous Deans had been Aeros and Electrical Engineering was on the rise nationally in new areas. The Head of their EE was given the position, much to Palmer’s disappointment.

In 1970-71 Palmer was Co-Major Prof. for Robert Jacko’s Civil Engr. PhD. His experimental, environmental thesis was conducted in the Purdue Aero School’s wind tunnel using the 12 foot turn table to measure the air pollution dispersion characteristics of a large City Layout. Prof. Jacko has been a member of Purdue’s Civil Engr. Environmental Section for many years.

Prof. Palmer taught a night graduate course MWF at IUPUI, Indianapolis for graduate engineers in Engineering Mechanics in 1969 and 1970. The text was written by Synge and Griffith.

In 1986 and 1987 he worked part time for Dr. Lykoudis, Head of Nuclear Engineering, and was assigned a GA named Yue Guan (BSME from China). They taught the Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer Lab course. One dangerous high pressure experiment was the loss of coolant accident (LOCA). The water was super heated from the outside of the pressure vessel and required hours to reach conditions to release. For 1987, Prof. Palmer redesigned it with internal heating in a new vessel which then took less than an hour to reach conditions for release. Upon obtaining her MSNE, she became his Research Assistant at Dynamic in 1988.

He was a two term Chairman of the Central Indiana Section of AIAA, Advisory Board Member for several years and on the Regional Advisory Committee (RAC 3). He is an Associates Fellow of AIAA.

He was Chairman of the Purdue Chapter of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). During that time (70 – 71) he was Host and Toastmaster to an Anniversary Banquet at Purdue when Dean Hawkins was National President. Dean Potter a Past President and Dean Bolz President Elect from Ohio State were featured Speakers. Upon retiring as Chairman he continued as a Regional Representative and attended a National meeting in Iowa with Dean Hancock who at a later date became National President. One of the Speakers there was Prof. Wood. It was an enjoyable get together for the first time since he left Purdue in 1943.

He served in all positions in BSA Volunteer Adult Leadership from Cub to Troop to District to Council Vice President for Exploring. He was Chairman of the Scout Fair for two consecutive years and was awarded the Silver Beaver by the Council for all his devoted service. He was a Private Pilot for 36 years. A member of EAA and a two term Chapter President.

Prof. Palmer worked tirelessly to create the wind tunnel program that Purdue is known for today. While serving as a faculty member for Purdue School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, he was more than just an advisor, teacher and esteemed leader. To many, he was the driving force behind student education, a professional resource, a personal friend, or a mentor who is held in the highest regard. He has impacted the lives of thousands of students during his tenure at Purdue with the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

He received the Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award in 2013 to a standing ovation at the age of 92.

Jeff Tyrcha


Vice President, Business Development & Marketing, Adacel Systems, Inc.

I am very fortunate to have started my aviation career at Purdue and so grateful to have a family who helped me along the way. Purdue gave me the foundation which is so critical for a career in the aerospace and defense industry. I've been blessed with so many things in life and the chance to pursue the dream of flight is one of them. Go Boilers!

Mr. Jeffrey Tyrcha earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue in 1993 and a M.S. in Industrial Engineering Management from the University of Oklahoma.

Mr. Tyrcha is Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for Adacel. He is responsible for the global business development, marketing, and strategic planning for all of Adacel's product lines. Adacel is a leading developer of aviation speech recognition systems, operational air traffic management systems, and advanced simulation and training solutions. The products are widely used throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region. Adacel regularly wins awards for innovation, including five consecutive Military Training & Technology 'Top Simulation and Training Company' awards.

He began his career as an officer in the United States Air Force and has held numerous positions within the aerospace and defense industry. He currently resides in Orlando, Florida with his wife and two daughters.


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