The Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech recently inducted five new members into the Academy of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Excellence on October 4, 2019.
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 2019, the academy inducted five new members: Jean-François Barthelemy, Karl Bilimoria, Stephen Kracinovich, Roni Modica, and Ron Murray. 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.
Dr. Jean-François Barthelemy
Dr. Jean-François Barthelemy is on special assignment with the Office of the Chief Technologist at NASA Headquarters as Agency Digital Transformation Lead. He is responsible for assessing the state of the Agency’s Digital Transformation initiatives and to recommend how to effectively integrate the diverse initiatives.
Prior to that assignment, since January 2015, he was the NASA Langley Research Center Chief Technologist. He advised the Langley Research Center Office of the Director and Senior Staff on technology matters and provided technical leadership for planning, management and evaluation of comprehensive, Center-wide advanced technology development activities. Prior to that, he was Deputy Director of the Langley Research Center Systems Analysis and Concept Directorate and of the Office of Strategic Analysis, Communication, Business Development.
Upon hiring on at NASA Langley in 1986, he joined the Interdisciplinary Research Office where he contributed original developments in sensitivity analysis and optimization methods for engineering problems and applied those to aeronautics and space challenges.
Dr. Barthelemy has degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the Université of Liège in Belgium (MS, ‘78) and Virginia Tech (MS, ‘80 and PhD, ‘83) and completed the Harvard Business School Program for Management Development (‘04). He has served temporary assignments at NASA HQ and the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group. He has authored or co-authored over 50 technical publications. He is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA, and a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal.
Dr. Karl Bilimoria
Dr. Karl Bilimoria is an aerospace engineer in the Flight Trajectory Dynamics and Controls branch at NASA Ames Research Center, where he has worked since 1994, leading research projects in the areas of air traffic management, spacecraft handling qualities, and space traffic management. After earning his doctoral degree from Virginia Tech, he began his career as an assistant professor of aerospace engineering at Arizona State University.
Dr. Bilimoria is a Fellow of the AIAA. He is the inaugural Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Air Transportation and previously served as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, as well as Guest Editor for a special issue of the Air Traffic Control Quarterly. He has served on four AIAA national committees, including the Publications Committee where he chaired the Books sub-committee. He is a recipient of AIAA’s Sustained Service Award.
Dr. Bilimoria has published over 100 technical articles on the dynamics and control of aerospace vehicles. He has received numerous professional awards, including the NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal for his work in air traffic management. He is a co-inventor of the Future Air traffic management Concepts Evaluation Tool, which has received two U.S. patents and prestigious awards from NASA, FAA, and AIAA. He led a team that received two NASA Group Achievement Awards for their work in spacecraft handling qualities, conducting a series of piloted flight simulation studies to build a knowledge base of pilot control systems and cockpit displays for the next generation of crewed spacecraft; over 30 astronauts from the Space Shuttle and Apollo programs participated in these studies. Dr. Bilimoria was a finalist in the 1996 NASA Astronaut Candidate selection.
Bilimoria holds a bachelor in technology degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (’82), and a masters degree in Aerospace Engineering (’84) and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering (’86) from Virginia Tech.
Mr. Stephen Kracinovich
Stephen Kracinovich is the Director of the Naval Air System Command (NAVAIR) Autonomy Strategy. He is responsible for establishing NAVAIR Autonomy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) policy, processes, and capabilities. He directs numerous autonomy and AI research and development efforts as well as related education.
Prior to joining the NAVAIR team, Mr. Kracinovich was involved in flight test of the latest advances in Navy/Marine Corps vertical flight aircraft for the Naval Air Test Center. This included an assignment as the first Lead Flight Test Engineer for the V-22 tiltrotor program.
Mr. Kracinovich has been the head of the systems integration branch for Unmanned Air Systems (UAS), targets, and rotorcraft; and the head of the systems integration division for NAVAIR. He was the Assistant to the Program Executive Officer of Unmanned Systems & Weapons for Engineering (APEO(U&W)-E) for over twelve years. In that role, he acted as the chief engineer for PEO(U&W) and oversaw the technical efforts of all UAS, cruise missile, and mission planning programs within NAVAIR. In these roles, he has lead or supported over a dozen independent reviews and chaired dozens of technical reviews.
Mr. Kracinovich was the vice president of the Seafarer chapter of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the chairman of the UAS technical panel of The Technical Cooperation Program (TTCP), an international government defense research organization. He is on the advisory board for the College of Southern Maryland engineering curriculum and the University System of Maryland Autonomous System Research Center in Southern Maryland. Additionally, he was a former elected member and chairman of the St. Mary’s County Board of Education.
Throughout his career he has been awarded the Department of the Navy Meritorious Service Award; the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award and earned First Place in the American Helicopter Society Graduate Design Competition.
Kracinovich holds a bachelors degree in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering from Virginia Tech (‘83); is a graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School (‘86); holds a masters in Aviation Systems Engineering from University of Tennessee (‘89) and a masters in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Tech (‘92).
Ms. Roni Modica
Ms. Roni Modica is a Defense Intelligence Senior Level Executive serving as a Technical Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (OUSD(I)). From 2017-2018, she was detailed to serve as the Director, Special Program for Missile Defeat (SPMD). The SPMD was a Deputy Secretary of Defense project that was part of the
Department’s Defense Innovation Initiative and Advanced Capability Deterrence Panel effort associated with countering road mobile missiles.
In 2017, she was selected by the Deputy Secretary of Defense to lead a small, high performing team to develop innovative solutions to address one of the nation’s top national security challenges. Ms. Modica established a test infrastructure and process for demonstrating innovative capabilities integrated with current operational systems working across all Services,the Combatant Commands, and the Intelligence Community. In less than 18 months, her team developed and demonstrated new capabilities to deliver persistent intelligence in an operational environment to address mobile missiles and other time critical targeting needs. For her accomplishments, Ms. Modica received the Department of Defense Exceptional Civilian Service Award from the Secretary of Defense in 2017 and the 2018 Presidential Rank Award.
She joined OUSD(I) in September 2014. Ms. Modica is a Special Technical Advisor for space and missile defense activities supporting the Director for Defense Intelligence for Strategy, Programs and Resources. She is also a member of the Defense Acquisition Corps.
From 2012-2014, Ms. Modica was a Technical Intelligence Officer in the Office of Global Access in the Directorate for Science and Technology (DS&T) atthe Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). She was the program manager for one of the CIA DS&T’s largest development efforts.
From 2002-2012, Ms. Modica held several positions at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). She served as the Ballistic Missile Defense System (BMDS) Space Architect reporting to the Director of Engineering and was responsible for concept development, prototyping, testing and acquisition for the BMDS space layer. Ms. Modica also served as the MDA liaison to the Intelligence Community (IC) responsible for establishing partnerships with NRO, NGA, DIA, NSA, CIA and ODNI to identify, demonstrate, and integrate IC capabilities that could support the missile defense mission. She was the program manager for multiple classified advanced technology programs that evolved from her IC liaison role. Ms. Modica delivered one of MDA’s most successful advanced technology demonstration programs. Ms. Modica also served as the Director for Systems Engineering and Integration for Special Programs and as the Chief Engineer for the Kinetic Energy Boost Phase Interceptor program.
From 1987-2002, Ms. Modica was a systems engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, NAVSEA Dahlgren Division. She led multiple engineering efforts in support of the development and certification of various Navy systems, including TRIDENT II, TOMAHAWK, AEGIS, Standard Missile, and the Navy Anti- Satellite (ASAT) Program. In 1999, Ms. Modica received the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award for her leadership and technical contributions to the Navy Theater Ballistic Missile Defense System. Ms. Modica started her career with the Navy as a participant in the Federal Government’s Cooperative Education Program in 1987 as a college sophomore engineering student.
In 1989, Ms. Modica received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech.
Ron Murray is the vice president of Quality at Newport News Shipbuilding, the nation’s sole builder of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and one of only two companies that builds nuclear-powered submarines for the U.S. Navy. Named to this position in 2012, he is responsible for the shipyard’s quality assurance, quality control and compliance policies and programs. He also oversees the planning, development and enforcement of comprehensive and integrated quality and continuous improvement across the shipyard.
Mr. Murray, a native of Virginia, began his professional career with NKF Engineering as a shock and vibration engineer supporting several different shipbuilding programs. After three years, Mr. Murray returned to his hometown and began his career at Newport News Shipbuilding, following three generations of Murrays before him. He has held several roles of increasing responsibility in the areas of design, construction and maintenance of submarines. During this time he was most notably the manager of the SUBSAFE Program responsible for the oversight and certification of all submarine pressure hull fabrication and all submarine sea connected systems. In 2009, Mr. Murray was promoted to director of quality assurance. In this role he was responsible for quality assurance activities for all submarine and aircraft carrier construction and maintenance across the Newport News Shipbuilding enterprise.
Mr. Murray serves on the Board of Directors for VersAbility Resources, as well as the Foundation Board for Riverside Health Systems, and is a member of the American Society for Quality and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers.
He holds a bachelors degree in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering (’86) and a masters in Ocean Engineering (’04) from Virginia Tech.