Feature

Up and Coming
01.08.09
 
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Joseph Pahle Joseph Pahle
NASA Photo
Joseph Pahle

Joseph Pahle is an aerospace engineer in the Dryden Flight Controls and Dynamics branch.

With more than 26 years at Dryden, he has been a lead flight controls engineer, project chief engineer, principal investigator, branch chief, mishap investigation team member, and member or chairman of flight readiness review teams.

Nominators wrote that Pahle is a "control system visionary" who excels at "providing leadership and practical application" of adaptive control technology.

In addition, nominators said Pahle exhibited "technical excellence and vision," has "sharp wit," is a "mover and shaker," and is an "excellent engineer with good humor" and "high energy."

Pahle has worked in Dryden's Advanced Flight Controls branch since 1982. He has primarily been involved with flying qualities and flight controls research on projects such as the Advanced Fighter Technology Integration F-16, the F-8 oblique wing research aircraft, the F/A-18 High Alpha Research Vehicle, and the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle projects.

His work also includes research with the hypersonic X-43A, the X-48B Blended Wing Body and the inflatable wing demonstrator. He also was one of Dryden's chief engineers on the X-37A. The X-37A was intended to be an advanced technology demonstrator.

"If I've been successful, it's only because of the talented professionals I'm privileged to work with," he said.

"I had the most fun working on the two inflatable wing demonstrators, with our share of hard problems, new technology, unknown outcomes, great team members and difficult flight operations."

Pahle also is known as an excellent mentor. He is very approachable, has a broad base of knowledge and is an excellent communicator who can break down complex concepts into understandable elements.




Allen R. Parker Allen R. Parker
NASA Photo
Allen R. Parker

Allen R. Parker is a systems engineer on the fiber optic wing shape sensor system project, now being flown on the Ikhana unmanned aircraft system.

The new sensor is 20 feet long and is the diameter of a human hair. Six of these on the wing surface of the Ikhana can be used to record thousands of measurements without the weight penalty associated with conventional strain gages. Parker developed the system and implemented the data processing algorithm, which was developed by Parker, William Ko, Lance Richards and Anthony "Nino" Piazza.

Parker's nominators were most impressed with his problem-solving skills and willingness to help out. They considered Parker a "fiber optics pioneer" and "a super genius in fiber optics," who made "significant contributions in strain measurements." Nominators also wrote, "Allen produces ingenious data-acquisition designs."

Parker is known not only as a researcher, but also for his work in helping to inspire the next generation.

He was a volunteer for the inaugural robotics team from Lancaster High School in 2000 and for the 2001 team. The Lancaster High School team has fielded an entry into the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology robotics competition every year since Parker assisted the early teams.

FIRST is a non-profit orgaization that has a series of robotics competitions for different age groups to spark interest in math and science. That's the role that Parker had with the Lancaster team as he worked long hours to mentor, help and inspire students turn a box of parts into a robot.

In 2000 he also served as a national judge at the national Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Technical and science submissions for the competition were evaluated by NASA staff, and Parker also assisted with a tour of Dryden given to finalists.




Kevin L. Petersen Kevin L. Petersen
NASA Photo
Kevin L. Petersen

Kevin L. Petersen is Dryden's director. He was named center director on Feb. 8, 1999, after serving as deputy director beginning in January 1996.

Nominators cited Petersen as a Dryden key contributor for his work on the F-8 Digital Fly-By-Wire program and as center director. Nominators called Petersen "a great center director" and the "friendliest center director at NASA." Nominators also recognized him for his ability to "focus on bringing us the right project activities for Dryden."

In addition to efforts to stabilize the center's work force and balance and diversify its program portfolio, Petersen developed the business case and successfully advocated for the DAOF. Located in Palmdale, the facility currently houses the DC-8 and the SOFIA. Petersen also made the case within NASA for the center to be awarded supplemental infrastructure funding to sustain critical capabilities. His efforts resulted in the center receiving an additional $25 million annually to sustain Dryden's flight operations and test infrastructure.

Petersen's early assignments at the center included chief of the Dynamics and Controls branch. Programs he supported included the F-18 High Angle of Attack Research Vehicle and the X-29 Forward Swept Wing technology demonstrator aircraft, serving as chief engineer on the latter project. He also headed the center's National Aerospace Plane project office from February 1992 through November 1993, when he was named the center's acting deputy director.

Early in his Dryden career he worked as a research engineer on the three-eighths-scale F-15 Remotely Piloted Research Vehicle, the F-8 DFBW and the Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology projects. Petersen has received NASA's Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal (1985), Exceptional Service Medal (1987), Outstanding Leadership Medal (2000), Equal Employment Opportunity Medal (2001) and Exceptional Achievement Medal (2004) for his contributions to the agency.




Christopher D. Regan Christopher D. Regan
NASA Photo
Christopher D. Regan

Christopher D. Regan is Dryden's X-48B chief engineer.

A "bright, smart, rising star," "a hard worker," "talented," "well rounded and speaks his mind," nominators said about Regan, also calling him "an innovative researcher."

Nominators also said he is a level headed and honest about what he sees in his engineering work and his work with others. He brings professionalism to everything he works on, but also has a sense of humor and an approach to problem solving that allows people to be at ease with him, according to nominators.

For the past three years he has worked on the X-48B, or blended wing body aircraft. The X-48B is being used to investigate low-speed stability and control characteristics of a full-scale blended wing body aircraft. In May 2007 he was named X-48B chief engineer. He developed and implemented an in-flight stability analysis tool for initial flight envelope clearance.

The X-48B is entering its fourth block of research flights as the 500-pound, remotely piloted test vehicle continues to perform well. The latest phase involves parameter identification and maneuvers to research the limits of the engine in stall situations. The X-48B first flew on July 20, 2007 and 37 flights have been tallied to date.

Prior to work with the X-48B, he worked as a flight control team member on intelligent flight control systems for the C-17 and for the F-15B, IFCS "generation two." As part of his IFCS work, he evaluated control allocation techniques.

The F-15B IFCS generation-two team received a 2007 NASA group achievement award "for the successful design, development and safe flight evaluation of a direct adaptive neural network-based flight control system in the presence of simulated failures."

The F-15 IFCS project recently completed its last flight (see article on page 19 for more information).




Carrie M. Rhoades Carrie M. Rhoades
NASA Photo
Carrie M. Rhoades

Operations engineer Carrie M. Rhoades was described by nominators as "energetic," "motivated," "sharp," and "reliable" - all with "a great attitude."

Her current work includes the F-15 Intelligent Flight Control Systems aircraft, on which she coordinates project work and keeps progress moving smoothly.

In addition, she is a mission controller - the individual who directs pilots on which maneuvers to perform - and ensures that paperwork for the aircraft is in order as well as keeping track of configuration changes and entries in the aircraft's log book.

Rhoades' current assignment also involves work on the F-16 Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology aircraft. Her coordination role is larger on the ACAT project because it is a program of the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate under the direction of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratories at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and coordinated with the Air Force Flight Test Center and industry partner Lockheed Martin.

The project's goal is to integrate the ACAT system into the F-16 to validate it for eventual operational use in the F-16, F-22 and F-35 aircraft.

Rhoades has worked in the areas of structures and aeronautics and in operations engineering on a number of programs.

Some of those programs include the hypersonic X-43A (all three vehicles), the Active Aeroelastic Wing that researched wing twist for roll control and the E-2C Hawkeye. She supported work on the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy and the Orion Crew Module.

Known for an ability to get things done, "she is outspoken when she needs to be," according to nominators, but is a dedicated professional whose opinions are valued. Rhoades attributes her ability to get nonstandard tasks accomplished successfully to her work and experience across multiple disciplines at Dryden.