Dr. Hans Mark has been honored with the U.S. Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award for more than 50 years of research with military relevance.

The member of the National Academy of Engineering was recognized for exemplary service related to helping develop nuclear reactors for submarines in the 1950s, and tiltrotor helicopters that can take off like airplanes. He was also honored for leading the effort to develop electromagnetic railguns for naval ships.

Mark advocated for tiltrotor helicopters in the 1970s as director of the NASA-Ames Research Center, where he oversaw a joint project with the U.S. Navy on this challenging engineering effort. The U.S. Marine Corps has more than 50 tiltrotor helicopters, with hundreds more expected to be built for U.S. military forces.

Regarding the value of these helicopters, the Navy noted in the public service award that Mark's efforts to develop them took the "U.S. Marine Corps' combined arms into the 20th century."

The holder of the John J. McKetta Centennial Energy Chair in Engineering was also recognized for his research into electromagnetic railguns as an alternative to missiles on naval ships. These railguns use electricity to launch projectiles that can travel faster than missiles, and can be launched in a more flexible, precise manner. Railgun components are being fine-tuned at the university's Institute for Advanced Technology, with field tests occurring at the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., and other military facilities.

Mark has held positions throughout his career that involved oversight of technology improvements for the military. He served as secretary of the U.S. Air Force from 1979-1981, creating a space command center in Colorado that is still operational. As U.S. Air Force Secretary, he also directed the National Reconnaissance Office, managing the nation's satellite reconnaissance program.

From 1981 to 1983, Mark was deputy administrator of NASA, overseeing the first 13 space-shuttle flights and the country's initial involvement in the International space program. He became chancellor of The University of Texas System in 1984, and served in that capacity until 1992. Mark was then tapped to become director of Defense Research and Engineering at the U.S. Department of Defense in 1998. He held that position until returning to The University of Texas at Austin in 2001.

A member of numerous professional societies, Mark's previous honors include the 2006 Military Astronautics Award, and the U.S. Defense Department's 2001 Distinguished Public Service Medal.

This article was taken from the Cockrell School of Engineering website.