For release: 02/17/04
Release #: 04-020
NASA engineer Dr. Paul Munafo has been selected 2004 Engineer of the Year by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Munafo, recognized for helping to establish NASA's new Engineering and Safety Center, will receive the award at an AIAA conference in April.Photo: Munafo (NASA/MSFC)
Dr. Paul Munafo, an engineer and manager at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., has been selected 2004 Engineer of the Year by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
The AIAA, a professional technical society dedicated to the progress of engineering and science in aviation and space, is based in Reston , Va.
The organization's Engineer of the Year award is presented annually to a member who has earned distinction in some facet of aerospace engineering.
The AIAA recognized Munafo for identifying and resolving a problem that threatened to ground the Space Shuttle for three months in 2002. Munafo led a team that developed a complex welding procedure to repair tiny cracks in the Shuttle Orbiter flow liners — the plumbing lines that feed liquid hydrogen to the Shuttle Main Engines. He was also cited for his leadership of NASA's External Tank Contingency Team — formed Feb.1, 2003, the day of the Space Shuttle Columbia accident — to investigate what role the External Tank may have played in the Columbia accident. He is credited with providing valuable information to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, an independent panel formed to investigate the cause of the Columbia accident and to make recommendations on the Shuttle's safe return to flight.
Following his work on the External Tank Contingency Team, Munafo was identified as a key individual to help establish NASA's Engineering and Safety Center . The Center — established last year at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton , Va. — provides an independent and comprehensive examination of all NASA programs and projects. He is temporarily serving as deputy director of the Engineering and Safety Center while retaining his position at the Marshall Center as manager of its Materials, Processes, and Manufacturing Department.
Munafo will receive his AIAA recognition at the institute's Structures, Structural Dynamics, and Materials Conference April 19-22 in Palm Springs , Calif.
A Marshall employee since 1975, Munafo is a three-time recipient of the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and has been recognized with NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal, as well as numerous other NASA awards and commendations.
He graduated from Boston Technical High School in 1957. After earning a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge , Mass. , in 1962, Munafo received a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1971. In 1996, Munafo earned a doctorate degree in materials science from Auburn University in Auburn , Ala.
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