Monday, April 27, 2009

Former NASA Chief Griffin Takes A New Job

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin has a new job: "eminent scholar" and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at University of Alabama in Huntsville.

"Michael Griffin is recognized worldwide as a leading authority on aerospace engineering and as a visionary for American space flight. We believe his contributions to this university will be of tremendous value," David Williams, president of the university, said in a statement.

"Dr. Griffin's appointment as a professor and eminent scholar will help raise the visibility of our aerospace engineering program to an even higher level. His achievements, both from a technical standpoint and as an academician, make him a valuable addition to our campus and provide great opportunities for this university."

Corporate leaders praised Griffin's appointment.

"In business, public service and leadership in space, Mike Griffin has always exemplified the best in engineering, sound management and future vision," Jim Albaugh, President and CEO of The Boeing Co.'s Integrated Defense Systems, said in a statement. "I'm confident that he will inspire a new generation of engineers and visionaries at a time when more than ever we need young people to aspire to reach the great goals in innovation and technology."

In 2005, then-President Bush appointed Griffin as the 11th NASA Administrator. He served in that role until the Obama Administration took office on Jan. 20.

Griffin previously served as Head of the Space Department at the Applied Physics Laboratory of the Johns Hopkins University, and he played a leading role in numerous other space missions through employment at the APL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Computer Science Corporation.

Prior to joining APL, he served in many executive positions with aerospace-related companies and he has held several academic appointments. Dr. Griffin has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, the Johns Hopkins University, and George Washington University.

Griffin said he and his wife, Rebecca, look forward to his new role.

"Everyone I have talked to in Huntsville, beginning with Dave Williams and his senior staff at UAHuntsville, university trustees, and local industry and community leaders, has been incredibly gracious in welcoming Rebecca and me to the Huntsville community," Griffin said in a statement.

"I intend to remain actively involved in all aspects of U.S. defense and civil space programs," he added, including such activities as teaching, research and helping develop the next generation of aerospace designers and leaders.

Griffin is expected to assume his duties in mid-May.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics, Griffin is an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society, and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

He is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the AIAA Space Systems Medal and Goddard Astronautics Award, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award which can be conferred on a non-government employee. He is also the 2009 recipient of the National Space Club's Goddard Trophy, and the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement.

He has taught courses in spacecraft design, applied mathematics, guidance and navigation, compressible flow, computational fluid dynamics, spacecraft attitude control, astrodynamics, and introductory aerospace engineering. He is the lead author of numerous technical papers, as well as the textbook Space Vehicle Design, and is a Registered Professional Engineer in Maryland and California.

He previously served as both the Chief Engineer and the Associate Administrator for Exploration at NASA, and as the Deputy for Technology of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization. Prior to joining SDIO in an executive capacity, he played a key role in conceiving and directing several "first of a kind" space tests in support of strategic defense research, development, and flight testing. These included the first space-to-space intercept of a ballistic missile in powered flight, the first broad-spectrum spaceborne reconnaissance of targets and decoys in midcourse flight, and the first space-to-ground reconnaissance of ballistic missiles during the boost phase.

Griffin obtained his B.A. in Physics from the Johns Hopkins University, which he attended as the winner of a Maryland Senatorial Scholarship. He holds Master's degrees in Aerospace Science from Catholic University, Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, Applied Physics from Johns Hopkins, Civil Engineering from George Washington University, and Business Administration from Loyola College of Maryland. He received his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.

University of Alabama in Huntsville is a research-intensive, public coeducational university accredited to award baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees. The university has colleges of business, engineering, liberal arts, nursing and science, and a school of graduate studies.

The university is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the 150 best national doctoral universities in the nation.

The school is a Space Grant university, and is among the national leaders in NASA-sponsored research. The campus is located near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and serves as the anchor tenant in Cummings Research Park, the second largest university research park in the United States.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the NASA image of former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin at a news conference at Kennedy Space Center last year. Sitting on his left is William Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Operations.

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