By Robert H. Bishop, ASE/EM Dept. Chair

A little over a year ago I asked you to join me in a project to create a compelling storybook illustrating the key contributions of our department to aerospace engineering. The storybook is intended to be a distributed living organism—hanging on the walls of our department, living in specially designed display cases, and on display on the website. I am happy to report that the first chapter of the storybook is complete.

The lobby of the department has undergone quite an uplifting make-over. Students, parents, alumni, and other visitors can see new displays describing key contributions to aerospace engineering by our alumni and faculty. As examples of alumni contributions, we have the original X-43 model presented to us by the project manager, John W. Hicks, BS ASE, 1969. We also have a flight jacket of Robert L. Crippen, BS ASE, 1960, awarded to him after his four Space Shuttle flights. Our faculty contributions are also on display. For example, Dr. Raynor Duncombe donated the first ever tracking map of the Sputnik spacecraft. This document shows Dr. Duncombe’s hand notations with the estimated Sputnik ground track. At the time of the event (back in the late 1950’s), Life magazine covered these contributions of Dr. Duncombe. Other alumni have graciously offered to contribute historical items and interesting stories, and we are working on creative ideas to integrate these additional items into the collection.

The latest chapter of the storybook focuses on the faculty who have received the high honor of membership in the National Academy of Engineering. Did you know that eight of our current faculty are members of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering? Some of you may remember Dr. Victor Szebehely—he was our ninth member of the academy.

It is amazing to think that about one out of every four current faculty members in the department are in the National Academy of Engineering. Working with the same inventive folks who are creating our museum quality displays and a local awards company, we developed an imaginative rock of ages with the names and citations of our National Academy of Engineering members. The new display is now hosted in the hallway outside the main office of the department. The showcase integrates well with the overall design concept of our other exhibits.

If you are counting the years since my first Chairman’s Corner article, you may notice that I have been chairman for four years. Four years is the standard term of a department chairman. So yes, I am now starting my second four-year term as chairman. I look forward to another interesting four years. I would like to thank everyone for their substantial support!

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Philip Varghese as the associate department chairman.