Up and Coming
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Stephen C. Jensen Stephen C. Jensen
NASA Photo
Stephen C. Jensen

Stephen C. Jensen is Dryden's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy program chief engineer. In that position, he is the lead technical coordinator between the SOFIA platform and science project teams.

Nominators said Jensen was "brilliant," "able to set a direction," is a "go-to guy," "knows system engineering" and "will help SOFIA be a success."

Nominators also recognized his technical excellence and leadership and said he was "extremely talented, humble, balanced" and the "quintessential systems engineer and great leader."

Nominators also said his ability to organize requirements and prioritize them is only matched by his follow up on what needs to be accomplished.

Prior to accepting his position with the SOFIA project, he was chief of the Flight Systems branch.

Dryden employees know Jensen's work as Dryden chief engineer on multiple projects, including the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle prototype and X-38 Actuator Control Test with partner Johnson Space Center, Houston. He also served as chief engineer on the X-37 and Ikhana unmanned aerial system projects.

Jensen was part of the first request-for-proposal development team at NASA Headquarters for the Crew Exploration Vehicle and served as an evaluator on the first CEV Source Evaluation Board.

Selection and development of new talent is paramount to the long-term success of any organization, and Jensen said, "Being able to hire a number of outstanding new engineers is probably my greatest accomplishment at NASA."

Jensen is known to make time to answer questions and make himself available to the people he works with. That includes new engineers that might need a helping hand learning their way around Dryden.

David N. Larson David N. Larson
NASA Photo
David N. Larson

David N. Larson is a research pilot in Dryden's Flight Crew branch. Larson joined NASA in February 2007 and flies the F-15, F-18, T-38 and ER-2.

Nominators said Larson was a "great instructor," who "flies them all" and is "a skilled test pilot."

Larson came to Dryden from the U.S. Air Force, where he flew and had extensive experience with the military version of the ER-2, the U-2. Larson's first contact with NASA was at the Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, where he had a college summer internship working on arcjet engines. He has accumulated more that 4,900 hours of military and civilian flight experience in more than 70 fixed and rotary-winged aircraft.

At Dryden, Larson has flown an F-18 is support of sonic boom research, the F-15 Intelligent Flight Control System, the F-15 Rake Airflow Gage Experiment, F-16 Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology aircraft and assisted with a Lunar Landing Training Vehicle trade study. He also serves as a operations scheduler and Aviation Safety Officer.

In 1991, Larson was assigned to Beale Air Force Base, Calif., were he flew 88 operational U-2 missions from Korea, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Panama and other locations. In addition, Larson commanded U-2 operations for Warner Robins Air Logistics Center's Detachment 2 located in Palmdale, Calif.

Larson became a flight commander and assistant operations officer for the 445th squadron at Edwards Air Force Base. He flew the radar, avionics integration and engine tests in F-15 A-D; the early flights in the glass cockpit T-38C; and airworthiness flights in the Coast Guard RU-38.

He was deputy group commander for the 412th Operations Group at Edwards before retiring from active duty in 2007 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He also was an instructor at the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School.

Jeanette H. Le Jeanette H. Le
NASA Photo
Jeanette H. Le

Jeanette H. Le is chief of Dryden's simulation branch, a position she has held since 2003.

Nominators said her technical leadership and expertise is evident and described her as a "great role model" who is "sharp, energetic and caring" and a person who is "quietly enabling major leaps."

Le was hired in 1989 just after graduation from the University of California, Los Angeles, to work in the simulation branch. Her first exposure to Dryden prior to her selection was through a senior design class that was part of the Universities Space Research Association.

After working as a simulation software engineer from 1989 to early 2002, Le served as acting deputy branch chief for nine months. Next, she served as acting branch chief for another nine months before accepting her current post.

Well-respected by her peers and a recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Award, Le says the best part of her job is "working with the people on the projects. I get exposure to a lot of different engineering disciplines, so I get to learn from a lot of different people. That provides a diverse perspective on flight research."

Le also enjoys it when the simulation work pays off when the project aircraft takes to the skies for the first time.

Among her favorite projects are the first one to which she was assigned, a feasibility study for the Propulsion Controlled Aircraft project, and work as a simulation engineer on the X-43A. The hypersonic vehicles, flew a single time before landing in the ocean, but recorded the first data of a supersonic combustion ramjet engine in flight. The program marked two speed records for such a vehicle.

Le also has mentored new and junior engineers for projects such as the X-43A and the X-45 Unmanned Combat Attack Vechicle/Joint Unmanned Combat Aircraft System. She has also mentored student engineers in NASA's co-op program.