The Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech recently inducted six new members into the Academy of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Excellence on October 26, 2018.

The  aerospace and ocean engineering department and the members of its advisory board established an Academy of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Excellence in 2016. Membership in this Academy is reserved for individuals who have made sustained and meritorious engineering and/or leadership contributions during their careers. While many of the inductees are alumni of the department, being an alumnus is not a requirement.  It is expected that Initiates have reached the pinnacle of their professional achievements and can recognize their accomplishments. There is also an expectation from the department that academy members serve as our most esteemed ambassadors in advancing our mission and goals.

For 2018, the academy inducted six new members: Rodney Bowersox, Tyler Evans, Gordon Follin, Sarah Mayer, Chris McCormick, and Rodney Peltzer. These individuals were selected from some 5,300 living alumni,friends, and faculty who have demonstrated, over their career, a dedication to engineering excellence and  Virginia Tech core values: brotherhood, honor, leadership, sacrifice, service, loyalty, duty, and Ut Prosim.

Rodney Bowersox is presented his award by Eric Paterson and Julie Duetsch
Caption: Rodney Bowersox was presented his award by Eric Paterson and introduced by senior Julie Duetsch

Rodney D.W. Bowersox is the department head and Ford Motor Co. Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University, in College Station Texas. He received a bachelor of science, master of science, and a doctoral degree, all in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech in 1988, 1990, and 1992, respectively. He started his career at the Air Force Institute of Technology. He then worked at  the University of Alabama in 1997, and Texas A&M University in 2002, where he has served as department head since 2012.

His research and teaching are focused on theoretical and experimental hypersonic viscous flows, non-equilibrium gas dynamics, and high-speed aerodynamics. He founded and directs the Texas A&M University National Aerothermochemistry and Hypersonics Laboratory. His research is sponsored primarily by the Air Force, Department of Defense, NASA, Navy, and private industry. Bowersox is a DoD Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellow, a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and the International Society of Airbreathing Propulsion. He is an associate editor for the AIAA Journal and the AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power.

Tyler Evans is presented his award
Caption: Tyler Evans accepts his award from Eric Paterson and was introduced by junior Mason Fitzsimmons.

Tyler Evans is vice president of the Rocket Shop℠, Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Defense Advanced Programs organization, committed to innovation and excellence. The Rocket Shop’s mission is to develop a pipeline of integrated technologies for products in the tactical, missile defense and strategic systems segments, including propulsion, power, and armaments.

Evans’ career encompasses 25 years of successful experience in the aviation and defense industry, with 21 years at Pratt & Whitney, assuming roles of increasing responsibility. He previously led the international programs and business development organization in Pratt & Whitney’s Military Engine Division with responsibility for defining, developing, and implementing strategies to meet customer requirements in more than 30 countries. Evans also held executive leadership positions as program executive director for the F135 engine for the F-35 Lightning II and the F119 engine for the F-22 Raptor. He began his career as a combustion engineer working advanced programs across Pratt & Whitney’s product portfolio, including military, commercial, industrial, and rocket engines.

Evans received a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech in 1990. He earned a master of science in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University in 1992. Additionally, he received dual master of business administration degrees from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Business and ESCP European School of Management in Paris, France in 2004.

Evans has led high performing teams that have been recognized for industry awards such as the Aviation Week Laureate Award, Secretary of Defense Performance Based Logistics Award and the Program Excellence Award. He also holds a U.S. patent for a low emission combustor.

Gordie Follin accepts his award from Eric Paterson and Theresa Blandino
Caption: Gordon Follin, congratulated here by Eric Paterson, was introduced by doctoral candidate Theresa Blandino.

Gordie Follin is the executive manager of the catalyst engine program for GE Aviation. This new development program is a global collaboration of seven countries and features a variety of new technologies including the most extensive use of additive manufacturing of any aviation product to date. He is currently based in Torino, Italy.

Follin, a native of Virginia, attended Virginia Tech and graduated with a bachelor of science and master of science degree in Aerospace Engineering. He began his professional career with Pratt & Whitney as a performance engineer supporting the Joint Strike Fighter program for the military engines business. After four years, Follin joined General Electric in 2000 as an engineer for the GE Energy business in Atlanta, Georgia. He held several roles of increasing responsibility in the areas of product support, services, and project engineering. During this time, he was most notably the manager of Fulfillment Engineering for the GE Aero Energy business in Houston, Texas where he led the execution of customer contracts for power generation equipment. He has been awarded three patents for his work developing technologies for gas turbines and has active patent applications for aircraft engine technologies.

In 2010, Follin moved to GE’s Aviation division as the engineering leader for product development and later served as the engineering leader of Marine and Industrial products for GE Aviation. In this role, Follin was responsible for the development and support of aero-derivative gas turbines for the oil and gas, energy, and marine markets.  

Follin served on the Virginia Tech College of Engineering advisory board, including a term as the board’s chair. He has been a key part of GE’s presence at Virginia Tech, previously serving as the corporate recruiting leader and currently serving as the university executive for Virginia Tech at GE. He is passionate about community development and has led many student tutoring, mentoring, and community service projects.

Eric Paterson presents Sarah Mayer with her award, alongside Julie Duetsch.
Eric Paterson presents Sarah Mayer with her award, alongside Julie Duetsch.

Sarah Mayer is senior director, architecture, capabilities and systems for Boeing defense space and security production operations and quality. She is responsible to ensure integrated capabilities and systems are provided utilizing an architecture that supports the global Boeing Defense Production System across all Boeing Defense Plants, Programs and Sites in the portfolio.

Previously, Sarah was the senior director of strategy design and execution for IT Product Systems. In this role, Sarah had the responsibility for program management and technical excellence across the product system solution lifecycle. She was also responsible for deploying the employee technical development strategy, introducing new technologies, deploying internal methods and tools, and solving top technical challenges. Prior to this position, Sarah was the director of affordability for the F/A-18 & EA-18 programs in Boeing Defense Global Strike Systems. Sarah has held a variety of positions since joining the company in 1988 including chief engineer,, leadership of T-45 Business Development, and an assignment in Boeing’s Washington, D.C. office.

Sarah holds a master of science in business administration from Washington University in St. Louis and a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech. She is the Boeing executive focal for Virginia Tech. Sarah is also a member of the LaunchCode board of directors, a non-profit providing opportunities to enter the field of technology by providing free tech education, job training, and apprenticeship job placements.

Chris McCormick accepts his award from Eric Paterson and was introduced by Mason Fitzsimmons.
Chris McCormick accepts his award from Eric Paterson and was introduced by Mason Fitzsimmons.

After a misguided start attending the University of Florida; Chris. McCormick saw the light and transferred to a top aerospace school at Virginia Tech. As the saying goes; make your mistakes early.

After graduating, and spending time with the standard path of the ‘Martin Marietta’s’ and consulting firms, and a a detour into commercial radio with Mutual Broadcasting, McCormick was lucky enough to secure a position supporting DARPA with Space Applications. There he focused on missions, payloads that make missions, and components that make the payloads. Development work of the best kind, known as the serial 001’s.  From DARPA, to Spectrum Astro, to founding and running Broad Reach Engineering in development of dozens of serial 001s that flew on low earth orbit, geostationary orbit, lunar and interplanetary missions.

Chris founded and is currently running the development team of PlanetiQ, designing a new GPS radio occultation weather instrument and global weather phenomenology remote sensing spacecraft constellation.

Rodney Peltzer was presented his award by Eric Paterson, alongside Theresa Blandino.
Rodney Peltzer was presented his award by Eric Paterson, alongside Theresa Blandino.

Rodney Peltzer earned his doctoral degree from the newly-formed aerospace and ocean engineering department at Virginia Tech in 1982. He began his research,development, science and technology based career with the remote sensing division at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC immediately thereafter. His activities during his 29-year tenure at the Naval Research Laboratory centered around performing physics-based research in the application of active and passive remote sensing techniques and systems to better understand critical Navy problems. During his tenure at the laboratory, he became a recognized subject matter expert in the area of anti-submarine warfare and maritime domain awareness remote sensing phenomenology. His extensive field trials coordination experience allowed him to serve as test director/conductor for a number of major navy anti-submarine warfare and maritime domain awareness field trials.

In 2011, Peltzer transferred to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, Maryland to provide anti-submarine warfare subject matter expert  support to the advanced Sensors Application Program and related, innovative research development test and evaluation program transition efforts. The advanced sensors program is a collection of science and technology projects evaluating anti-submarine warfare capabilities and related physical phenomena. These project areas require routine collaboration with international experts in the  anti-submarine warfare field. He currently serves as the chief scientist, Phenomenology topic lead and Looking Glass oversight panel chairperson for the advanced sensors program.