Professor of Engineering Practice of Aeronautics & Astronautics
Dan Dumbacher most recently served as deputy associate administrator in the Exploration Systems Development Division, for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. In that capacity he provided leadership and management as the program director for exploration systems development encompassing the Space Launch System, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations (GSDO) development and integration efforts. He led a team of over 5,000 people spanning all NASA centers and Industry.
From 2007-’10, Dumbacher served as the director of the engineering directorate at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, leading 1,400 civil service and 1,200 support contractor employees. The Engineering Directorate supported the Space Shuttle propulsion elements, design and development of the Ares launch vehicles, operation of NASA’s Payload Operations Center — the command post for scientific research on board the International Space Station, and supported all Marshall Space Flight Center International Space Station and Science missions.
Previously, Dumbacher was deputy director of the Ares Projects Office and, before that, was deputy director for product assurance in the safety and mission assurance office, focusing on Space Shuttle return-to-flight efforts. Other assignments included manager of the X-37 Flight Demonstrator, deputy manager of the Space Launch Initiative Program, and program manager of the Second Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle Program, among other roles.
During a 35-year career with NASA, he was awarded the coveted Silver Snoopy Award, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal as well as the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious service. He received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in ’02 for accomplishments related to NASA’s Space Launch Initiative Program, and in ’97 for his work on the DC-XA Project. In ’03, Purdue University recognized him with the Outstanding Mechanical Engineer award.
He earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue in ‘81 and a master’s in business administration from the University of Alabama in ‘84. He completed the Senior Managers in Government study program at Harvard University.
Dumbacher will teach courses in systems engineering. He will also join the effort to develop the Purdue Systems Initiative.