Charlie Harris and Warner Robins Join Elite Engineering Academy
Charlie Harris, head of NASA Langley's Research Directorate, and A. Warner
Robins, an aeronautical research scientist who bridged the NACA-NASA eras at
Langley, were inducted into Virginia Tech's College of Engineering Academy
of Engineering Excellence at a dinner Thursday in Blacksburg.
In doing so, they joined a group of 105 Virginia Tech engineers from among
55,000 living engineering alumni.
Harris, who grew up on a farm in Pittsylvania County, came to Langley in
1987 as head of mechanics in the Materials Branch after teaching in
aerospace engineering at Texas A&M.
He was among the catalysts for the National Institute of Aerospace, and was
also cited during the Thursday ceremony for a leadership role in NASA's
"Return to Flight" after the Columbia accident.
Robins, who lives in Yorktown, retired from Langley in 1980.
He grew up watching airplanes land at nearby Langley Field (which became
Langley Air Force Base) and learned to fly, eventually serving as a bomber
co-pilot in World War II.
Robins came to Langley in 1949, working in aeronautics at a time when
electronic computers were coming into vogue. He moved into studying
supersonic mechanics, then worked with a group that helped work out the
"piggyback" procedure in which space shuttle orbiters can be mounted on
Boeing 747s when the shuttle lands away from Kennedy Space Center.
A flag carried by Columbia into space is on a wall in his den in Yorktown.
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