2014 Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Awards

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 nine graduates of AAE with the designation "Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award."

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 180 OAE's represent just over 2% of the more than 8500 alumni of the School.

Congratulations to our 2014 Outstanding Aerospace Engineers.


Director, Aerospace Systems Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory,
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

The theoretical underpinning, technical skills and work ethic acquired during my time at Purdue provided me a solid foundation to begin my professional journey. Throughout that journey, I have benefitted for the brand and credibility that comes with being a Boilermaker alum. The successes that I have enjoyed can in large part be attributed to these factors along with a little good luck and timing.

Mr. C. Douglas Ebersole graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 1982. Mr. Ebersole, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is the Director, Aerospace Systems Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. In this capacity he leads the Air Force's science and technology program in propulsion, power and air vehicles for advanced next-generation space, missile and aircraft applications. The Aerospace Systems Directorate consists of $4 billion in research facilities spread over 65 square miles at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio and Edwards AFB in California and a work force of more than 1,800 military, civilians, and contractors executing a nearly $700 million annual budget.

Mr. Ebersole entered civil service upon graduation from Purdue University and was assigned to the Aeronautical Systems Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. His initial assignments were as the aero/performance lead on the F-20 and F-16 Falcon programs. He later served as the lead flight technology engineer for the F-117A Nighthawk and F-15E Strike Eagle programs, responsible for all performance and flying qualities functions. Mr. Ebersole broadened his technical base beyond his aero/mechanics foundation as the platform integration team lead in the Joint Airborne Signals Intelligence Program Office. He then held follow-on avionics development and integration roles in the Joint Strike Fighter Support and Aging Aircraft Program offices.

In 2000, Mr. Ebersole was selected as the Air Force candidate to the Sloan Fellows Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received his MBA. He returned to Wright-Patterson AFB and served in a variety of assignments including Chief, Special Test Programs Division and Director of Engineering for the F-22 Program. Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Ebersole was Director of Engineering for the F-35 Joint Program Office in Arlington, Virginia responsible for the development, production and sustainment of the next generation strike aircraft for the Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and numerous international partners.


Executive Assistant Director,
FBI Science and Technology Branch

Throughout my career, I've found that an engineering degree from Purdue automatically engenders credibility and respect. My education gave me both the foundation and the confidence to succeed.

Ms. Amy S. Hess graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 1989. In January 2014, she was named Executive Assistant Director of the FBI's Science and Technology Branch. Ms. Hess has executive oversight of the Criminal Justice Information Services, Laboratory, and Operational Technology Divisions, which provide vital support to law enforcement and national security investigations throughout the world.

Ms. Hess began her career as a Special Agent with the FBI in January 1991. She was first assigned to the Kansas City office where she investigated violent crimes, gangs, and drug trafficking organizations. She was an applicant assessor, a firearms instructor, and a charter member of the Evidence Response Team.

In 1999, Ms. Hess transferred to the Louisville office where she investigated domestic terrorism. She also served as the division's principal firearms instructor and its first Joint Terrorism Task Force coordinator before being promoted to supervisor of the counterterrorism and counterintelligence squad. In 2005, she reported to FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. as an Assistant Inspector/Team Leader in the Inspection Division, where she led reviews of 23 different field offices, headquarters divisions, and overseas offices.

Ms. Hess was promoted to Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix office in 2007, assigned to the Tucson Resident Agency where she oversaw operational and administrative matters in southern Arizona. During this assignment, she was temporarily deployed as the On-Scene Commander of the FBI’s counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

Ms. Hess returned to FBI Headquarters in 2008, as chief of the Executive Staff in the National Security Branch. She was subsequently named Section Chief in the International Operations Division where she was responsible for supporting Legal Attache offices in 61 countries. In 2010, she was named Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis office, overseeing all FBI personnel and operations in the Middle and Western Federal Judicial Districts of Tennessee. In 2011, Ms. Hess was named Assistant Director of the Operational Technology Division in Quantico, Virginia.

Originally from Jeffersonville, Indiana, Ms. Hess is married to Robert Novotny who retired from the FBI in 2004, after nearly 33 years of service.


Mitchell Professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering,
Affiliate Professor, Engineering Science and Mechanics,
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State

While a large number of people and institutions have shaped me and have contributed to my success, it is the education that I got at Purdue that has had the most influence on my career. Purdue taught me the value of hard work, fairness and integrity. I recall it was a Saturday when I arrived for the first time at the third-floor of Grissom Hall. I could not believe how many members of the faculty were working as if it were a regular week-day. And I will never forget Prof. Yang's advice, "Everything can be taken away from you except your scholarship and high-quality publications."

Dr. Rakesh K. Kapania graduated from Purdue University with a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1985. As an expert on aerospace structures, Dr. Kapania has made very significant contributions to aerospace engineering, in general, and aerospace structures, in particular. For the last three decades, he has served as a teacher, scholar, and researcher. Many of his undergraduate students are working in U.S. industry, and his trained researchers are working in academia, industry, and government labs. He has guided 40 M.S., 37 Ph.D., and 13 post-doctoral fellows.

Dr. Kapania has authored over 150 archival journal articles published primarily by AIAA, 250 conference papers and presentations largely at the SDM conference, and two book chapters. He reviews nearly a dozen papers annually, twice served as associate editor of the AIAA Journal, served as a member of the AIAA Education Book Series advisory board, is a member of the Structures Technical Committee, NRC Review Panel for NASA's Roadmap for future research, and member of the Daniel Guggenheim Medal Award Board.

Dr. Kapania has managed over 85 research projects funded by many agencies. He led two large programs contributing to the design of both civilian and military future aerospace vehicles including a three-year $3.3 Million, NASA-Virginia Tech-Lockheed Martin program on Unitized Structures fabricated by modern manufacturing processes such as the Electronic Beam Free Form Fabrication, laser sintering, and other methods; and AFRL-Virginia Tech-Wright State University Collaborative Center on Multidisciplinary Sciences over 6.5 years at a level of $6.5M. Leading a team of two post-doc fellows and 12 graduate students, he is contributing significantly to basic and applied research in aerospace structures in unitized structures, multidisciplinary design of truss-braced aircraft, highly-flexible wings and composite structures. He is part of a team selected by NASA to a $6.2 million, five-year research project on mission adaptive aeroelastic wings.

Dr. Kapania has been widely recognized for his contributions to aerospace education and research. He was honored by being awarded the $1 Million Mitchell professorship. For his research contributions, Dr. Kapania was awarded the Dean's Award for Excellence in Research in 2000 and 2010. In 1996, he received the Boeing's Welliver Fellowship for his commitment to undergraduate education. Dr. Kapania was awarded the Boeing Research and Technology Performance and Innovation Award in 2014 for his research on nonlinear aeroelasticity of Truss-Braced Wings. In recognition of his commitment to bringing new knowledge to the industry, he was elected Director of Multidisciplinary Analysis and Design Center for Advanced Vehicles at Virginia Tech.


Vice President,
Perkin-Elmer Corporation, Retired

Most Aero courses were taught at the Airport; those in other schools had special Aero Sections. The Labs were unique in that students were given a handbook, told to get organized, schedule the labs and prepare a final report. This experience, mimicking industry, provided a seamless transition from school to work and was a tremendous help in launching my career. Of course it didn't hurt that my Boss was an Aero grad as well two of my co-workers.

Mr. Paul E. Petty graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering in 1953. Born on a farm in Southern Indiana, he volunteered for the Navy, trained as a fighter pilot flying the famed Corsair. Mr. Petty did graduate studies in Modern Physics and Thermodynamics.

In 1960, Mr. Petty moved from Chance Vought Aircraft to GE's Missile and Space Division and was introduced to the "Black World Programs." The actual name of these programs was Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). The key word is compartmented. Work was performed in separate SCI/F facilities, closed off to everybody else; isolated. Information went in; nothing came out, including hardware. What went on in the compartment could not be discussed anywhere, anytime, to anyone, outside the compartment. Mr. Petty spent the next 35 years inside Black Programs in the design, fabrication and operation of optical systems for space applications. An expert in Space Thermo-Physics, he is recognized as a pioneer of space reconnaissance.

At GE's Missile & Space Division, Mr. Petty was Manager of Thermodynamics at the Advanced Projects Department, where he was responsible for thermal design of the KH-7 GAMBIT* space vehicle, camera and electronics. GAMBIT was capable of taking high resolution, less than 2-ft, photos of specific targets from space. The first of 38 flights was in July 1963.

Joining Perkin-Elmer in 1968, Mr. Petty was Project Engineer for the first flight HEXAGON camera system. The Hexagon mission provided photos that were never more than six months old of all Sino-Soviet urban areas, and were never more than 12 months old of all non-urban areas. The first of 20 flights was in June 1971.

Mr. Petty was promoted to Hexagon Program Manager in 1973 and in 1975 he was elected Vice President of the Perkin-Elmer Corporation and General Manager of the Optical Technology Division (The Hexagon SCIF) in Danbury, Conn. The SCIF was a "state of the art," comprehensive stand-alone facility especially created to produce large optical systems for space operation.

Mr. Petty was responsible for the proposal that resulted in the award of the Optical Telescope Assembly for the Large Space Telescope (Hubble) to Perkin-Elmer in Oct 1977.

*Declassified Sept. 2011


Technical Fellow,
The Boeing Company

My Purdue engineering education taught me how to solve problems that no one has solved before. In my work, I love the fact that I frequently cannot find exactly what I need in a book because it doesn't exist. In a way, I'm writing the book for the next steps in aviation and spaceflight. I think that's really exciting. Purdue gave me the foundation to build upon to write the next chapter.

Ms. Tamaira Ross graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 1996 and a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1998. She also attended the University of Washington where she obtained a M.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2002, and a Technology Management MBA in 2008.

Ms. Ross is a Technical Fellow and aeronautical engineer in Boeing Defense, Space and Security where she does preliminary vehicle design and rapid development of aircraft and spacecraft. For the past four years, she has worked on Boeing's Phantom Phoenix small satellite program and related efforts. She has worked in product development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes and has recently worked on Boeing's ecoDemonstrator program which prototypes new technologies for higher efficiency airplanes and flight operations.

Her professional interests include aircraft design, spacecraft design, multi-disciplinary optimization and alternative energy. She has 10 patents, two of which have been built and tested as working prototypes.

Tamaira has taught classes on multi-disciplinary design, wireless power transmission, and engineering design methodology. In addition, she is an affiliate instructor in the Industrial and Systems Engineering department at the University of Washington where she teaches graduate classes in technical leadership.

She is the recipient of the 2011 Puget Sound Engineering Council Industry Engineer of the Year award, the Purdue Alumnus 2010 "40 under 40" award, and the Society of Women Engineers 2010 Emerging Leader in Product Research, Design and Engineering award.


Professor of Aerospace Engineering and H.H. Arnold Chair,
University of Tennessee Knoxville

My education at Purdue not only provided a strong scientific engineering foundation, but also contributed to a variety of opportunities throughout my career. The Aerospace community appreciates the enduring excellence of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and being a Boilermaker has had its advantages.

Dr. John D. Schmisseur graduated from Purdue University with a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1997 after earning his Bachelor of Science in 1990 and Master of Science in 1992 in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Schmisseur joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee Knoxville Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering in August 2014. He will be teaching and leading research at the University of Tennessee Space Institute.

Prior to joining the faculty, Dr. Schmisseur was the Chief of the Energy, Power & Propulsion Sciences Division and Program Manager for Aerothermodynamics within the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR). During his tenure at AFOSR, Dr. Schmisseur initiated and led a national strategic research plan which has guided the research efforts of multiple federal agencies, championed the transition of basic research capabilities that have advanced flagship national hypersonics technology programs and transformed test and evaluation capabilities, and envisioned the HIFiRE program which unifies the efforts of AFRL, NASA and the Australian DSTO to advance fundamental hypersonic science and technology via flight research.

Dr. Schmisseur is active within the professional community including serving as Chair of the AIAA Fluid Dynamics Technical Committee and a NATO Science and Technology Organisation working group. He is also a frequent keynote speaker at a variety of scientific meetings. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (2012) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (2013) and is the 2008 recipient of the Air Force Science and Engineering Award in Research Management.


Chief Scientist for Flight Simulation Systems,
Federal Aviation Administration

I discovered how special my Purdue education is after I left the university. Engineers from other schools would ask in amazement, "you had a whole course on orbit mechanics?" Also, Purdue's reputation seems to grow with distance from West Lafayette. When abroad, a colleague asked me where I went to school, and when I told him, he said "Oh, the school of the astronauts." It was hard not to beam with pride.

Dr. Jeffery Schroeder graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 1984 and a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1990. He also holds a Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University.

Dr. Schroeder is the Federal Aviation Administration's Chief Scientist for Flight Simulation Systems. He has led, or been associated with, all of the FAA's commercial airplane upset prevention and recovery training efforts. These efforts include establishing both the legal requirements and guidance for pilot training and the necessary simulator modeling requirements to allow for effective training. By 2019, all commercial transport pilots in the U.S. will receive this training.

Previously, Dr. Schroeder worked at NASA Ames Research Center for over 20 years, with his last position as Chief of the Aviation Systems Division. This division had 200 employees and conducted, or led, the majority of the nation’s air traffic management research. Earlier, he was the NASA Chief of the Flight Control and Cockpit Integration Branch, which designed and built the only helicopter in-flight simulator in the United States.

Before these management positions, Dr. Schroeder was a research scientist at NASA. He developed and validated criteria for how a flight simulator should physically move to increase its realism. He also designed, developed, and flight-tested control and display concepts that enabled pilots to hover and land a helicopter without using external visual cues. Components of these concepts have been used by others on several operational aircraft.

While at NASA, Dr. Schroeder served as a lecturer at Stanford University, and as an adjunct professor at San Jose State University, teaching dynamics and control at both universities. He is Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


Dean's Professor of Aerospace Engineering,
Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering,
Georgia Institute of Technology

Without any doubt, I would not have been able to achieve my career aspirations if it were not for the excellent education I received, the faculty role models I encountered, and the work ethic I was taught during my years at Purdue.

Dr. Panagiotis Tsiotras received his Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Purdue University in 1993, and his Engineering Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece in 1986. He also received M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech in 1987 and Mathematics from Purdue in 1992.

Dr. Tsiotras is the Dean's Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where his is also the Director of the Dynamics and Control Systems Laboratory. He is an affiliated member of the Interdisciplinary Center of Robotics and Intelligent Machines (IRIM) and the Center for Space Technology and Research (C-STAR) at Georgia Tech. His research interests include dynamics and control of nonlinear systems, optimal and robust control, and vehicle autonomy.

Before joining Georgia Tech as an Associate Professor, Dr. Tsiotras was an Assistant Professor at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia (1994-1998). He has held research positions with the Interdisciplinary Center of Applied Mathematics at Virginia Tech, at INRIA-Rocquencourt, France and at the Center of Automation and Systems at Ecole des Mines de Paris (ParisTech), France. During the summer of 2014 he was a Visiting Faculty Fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems and the Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Tsiotras has been in the Editorial Boards of the AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, the IEEE Control Systems Magazine, the IEEE Transactions of Automatic Control and the Dynamics and Control: An International Journal. He is Fellow of AIAA and a Senior Member of IEEE. He is a recipient of the CAREER Award from the NSF and the President's Award for Excellence in Research from the Sigma Xi Society. He is a member of the Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Gamma Tau Honor Societies.


Owner and President,
Three Cities Research, Inc.

I have been very lucky in life including having the privilege of getting an education from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue. Engineers solve problems; it turns out that the class of problems with which Aeros deal (a combination of non-linear functions with step changes, financial considerations that significantly affect the answer, regulation, and tremendous interdependencies) are directly applicable to business. Obviously Purdue's education is great training to be an Aero Engineer; an AAE degree with an MBA is great education for business.

Mr. J. William (Bill) Uhrig graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 1982. After briefly working as an Advanced Concepts Systems Engineer at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, he decided to pursue a graduate education and earned a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

Bill joined Three Cities Research, Inc. (TCR) directly after receiving his MBA in 1984, became the President of the European Subsidiary TCR Europe, Ltd in 1988, became President of TCR in 2002, and today, owns the firm. TCR has always been in the business of advising investors on how to purchase businesses and then how to operate them. Today, TCR invests the capital of the partners and is considered a "Family Office."

The type of investing TCR advises evolved from pure financial engineering (leveraged buyouts) in the 1980s to business transformation, which is the re-engineering of a business from the bottom up, allowing it to more efficiently serve the customer and thus improve profitability. TCR has performed transformations in all types of businesses and all types of industries—from fashion retailers to steel foundries.

Bill is married to Anastasia Vournas, lives in New York City and occasionally uses his aeronautical knowledge as a private pilot.

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