The Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech recently inducted eight new members into the Academy of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Excellence on November 13, 2021. 

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 2021, the academy inducted eight new members: Charles Camarda, Carol W. Carroll, Deborah A. Furey, Jill M. Marlowe, Daniel D. Mazanek, Timothy S. Mierzwicki, Thurmond Senter and Clyde F. Simmerman, Jr. These individuals were selected from some 5,800 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.

Charles Camarda

Dr. Charles Camarda (Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, ‘90) is an astronaut, research engineer, inventor, author, educator, and internationally recognized subject matter expert. He has over 60 technical publications, holds 9 patents, and over 20 national and international awards including the NASA Spaceflight Medal; the American Astronautical Society 2006 Flight Achievement Award, and he was inducted into the Air and Space Cradle of Aviation Museum’s Hall of Fame in 2017.

In 1996, he was selected as an Astronaut Candidate and flew as a Mission Specialist on STS-114, NASA’s Return-to-Flight mission immediately following the Columbia disaster. He was responsible for initiating several teams to successfully diagnose the cause of the Columbia tragedy and develop an on-orbit, wing leading edge repair capability which was flown on his return to flight mission and all successive Shuttle missions until the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Dr. Camarda retired from NASA in May 2019, after 45 years of continuous service as a research engineer and technical manager at Langley Research Center, an Astronaut and Senior Executive at Johnson Space Center, and as the Senior Advisor for Innovation and Engineering Development at Langley Research Center.

He was nominated by AOE faculty member Dr. Rakesh Kapania. In his nomination, Dr. Kapania wrote, “I have known Charles Camarda for more than 30 years, as I was on his Ph.D. advisory committee. He was one of the first people to work on sensitivity analysis of thermo-mechanical systems under Prof. Raphael T. Haftka while working full time at NASA Langley.”

“He is very active in advancing aerospace education, working with a number of universities and through his Epic Education Foundation. He has brought a great deal of fame to our department and is an inspiration to our students, especially those studying space systems design.”

Carol W. Carroll

Carol W. Carroll (B.S., mechanical engineering, ‘83) is the Deputy Center Director at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, where she guides technology development and research in aeronautics, science and exploration technologies that support aeronautics and space missions. She has been with NASA for more than 25 years and has served in a variety of engineering and management positions.

During her time as Program Manager for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, Carol led the restructuring of the SOFIA Program and positioned the government to successfully complete development of the world’s largest flying observatory -- a Boeing 747 aircraft specifically modified to hold a 2.5-meter diameter telescope to conduct infrared astronomical research.

Carol has served as a Program Executive at NASA Headquarters and as a Division Chief and Project Manager at Ames responsible for delivering critical thermal protection system flight hardware for numerous NASA missions including Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Pathfinder and X-37. Carol came to Ames as a contractor working on the Unitary Plan Wind Tunnel Modernization Project.  Prior to NASA, she worked in industry for 9 years where she designed and developed missile launch systems for the Department of Defense.

She has received numerous honors and awards including the Presidential Rank Award, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the Boeing Pride in Engineering Excellence Award and numerous NASA Group Achievement Awards.

Ms. Carroll was nominated by AOE alumnus John W. Boyd, who is also a member of the Academy of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Excellence. Of his nomination, Boyd said “Ms. Carroll has demonstrated successful technical leadership spanning a wide variety of NASA projects, while progressing through increasing levels of managerial responsibility. These professional accomplishments establish her as a role model for Virginia Tech’s AOE students.”

Deborah A. Furey

Dr. Deborah Furey (B.S., aerospace engineering, ‘89; M.S., engineering science and mechanics, ‘91) has over 30 years of diversified experience working for the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community. Leveraging her superb management skills and extensive engineering background, she has managed and made key contributions in the development of innovative, game changing capabilities to address critical mission needs of the Navy and the Intelligence Community. In her current role, she is leading an effort focused on the development and deployment of innovative solutions and capabilities to address critical national security challenges.

Dr. Furey is also an established author of over 20 technical publications in the field of engineering and science. She is responsible for numerous advances in the areas of turbulent boundary layer development in relation to Navy acoustic sensor performance and hydrodynamics of Navy systems.

In addition to her federal government career, Dr. Furey is an accomplished university level educator teaching engineering and math courses at various community colleges and universities. Throughout her career she mentored engineering student interns and supported student outreach programs.

Dr. Furey was nominated by AOE alumna Roni Modica, who is also a member of the Academy of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Excellence. In her nomination, Ms. Modica wrote, “Dr. Deborah Furey epitomizes the Virginia Tech school motto, Ut Prosim. For over 30 years, she served our nation as a research scientist and program manager, working for the Department of Defense and Intelligence community focused on delivering innovative capabilities that had significant impacts on our national security. She is a leader focused on solving the hardest national security challenges while at the same time, dedicated to mentoring and inspiring students and serving as a role model for other female engineers.”

Jill M. Marlowe

Jill Marlowe’s (B.S. aerospace and ocean engineering, ‘88) professional career spans a period of 30 years, working in research and engineering organizations to deliver hardware, technology, concepts and methods to enable complex aerospace systems for NASA missions. She currently serves as NASA’s first Chief Digital Officer and has enthusiastically embraced her new leadership role, building on her track record at the NASA Langley Research Center. 

Her career has been that of a transformational leader. As Director for the Langley Research Center Research Directorate, she advocated relentlessly for developing a systems-oriented research portfolio. Research is often organized in a siloed manner, and Marlowe brought in systems-minded staff to research directorate leadership on a rotational basis, to inform and address systemic needs. A number of initiatives grew out of this practice and, to this day, the connections between organizations within the Research Directorate are better and collaboration has intensified. 

In addition to her tireless work at NASA, Ms. Marlowe serves on advisory boards for the AOE department, Sandia National Laboratory’s Engineering Sciences Research Foundation, and Cox Communications Digitally Inclusive Communities. Her drive has been recognized when she was named the 2017 NASA Champion of Innovation, and she has twice been awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, which recognizes “notably outstanding leadership which affects technical or administrative programs of NASA”. 

Ms. Marlowe was nominated by AOE alumnus Jean-Francois Barthelemy, also a member of the Academy of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering Excellence. He wrote, “Ms. Marlowe and I crossed paths at Langley throughout our careers, more so in recent years when we collaborated in the different transformation efforts we led. We had frequent, engaging and constructive interactions. She is a leader who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get immersed in the task at hand; she relentlessly advances towards the finish line. She has the ability to pull together and motivate a diverse and creative staff and she both carefully listens and actively participates in the deliberations. Everyone contributes, yet the product has her distinctive imprint. She is passionate for transformation and a compelling advocate.”

Daniel D. Mazanek

For the past 25 years, Dan Mazanek (B.S. aerospace and ocean engineering, ‘89)  has served as a Senior Space Systems Engineer at NASA Langley Research Center. In this role, he has been responsible for leading cross-agency teams in conceptualizing, advancing, and improving exploration architectures for NASA. 

Through these efforts, he led and supported numerous major agency-wide architecture level studies, including the Broad Lunar Trade study, Lunar Architecture Team, and Human Architecture Team. During these efforts, he conceived and implemented many innovative architectures, including a reusable/modular transportation architecture and the innovative Descent Assisted Split Habitat (DASH) lander concept. 

Since 2018, he has supported the Human Lander System, including supporting Commercial Lunar Payload Services and HLS acquisition boards, and leading the Alternative Architecture Study that assessed alternative lander architecture concepts, both NASA internal and external.

Prior to that support, Dan Mazanek served as the Mission Investigator for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission. He was responsible for briefing senior NASA officials, the NASA Advisory Council, and Congressional stakeholders, successfully asserting that an alternative mission concept would increase value while lowering risk and broadening stakeholder efforts. He then led efforts to build an agency-wide team to initiate implementation of the first-ever robotic mission to collect a multi-ton boulder from the surface of an asteroid and redirect it into a stable orbit around the Moon. 

Mr. Mazanek was nominated by AOE alumnus Kevin Earle. In his nomination, he said” For the past 25 years, Mr. Daniel Mazanek has been a key visionary originating the conceptualization, advancement, and improvement of exploration architectures. Throughout his career, he has been a role model, continually challenging “good enough” and offering innovative alternatives, not driven by bias, that increase the impact of the mission, both for NASA and the nation.”

Timothy S. Mierzwicki

Mr. Timothy S. Mierzwicki (B.S. ocean engineering, ‘99; M.S. ocean engineering ‘03) is currently the Director of the Ship Concepts and Future Force Architecture Division (05D1) of the Surface Ship Design and Systems Engineering Group at Naval Sea Systems Command (or NAVSEA), in Washington, DC.

Mierzwicki began his career training in the shipbuilding industry at General Dynamics Electric Boat supporting detail design and construction of Sea Wolf and Virginia Class Submarines.  He then spent 10 years at Ingalls Shipbuilding rising from associate to senior naval architect and systems engineer III/IV.  

In 2009 Mierzwicki joined the U.S. Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division, and supported NAVSEA as a Design Integration Manager for the Command Ship Replacement Program and as Deputy Ship Design Manager for LHA-7.  He later accepted the position of Ship Concept Manager at NAVSEA Headquarters, where he was recognized with the Commander’s Award for Innovation for leading a team of naval engineers in the development of multiple feasible ship concept designs for the LX(R) Analysis of Alternatives.

He became the LPD Deputy Ship Design Manager for the Flight II preliminary design in 2013, and two years later was selected to be the NAVSEA05 Ship Design Manager and Technical Warrant Holder for Advanced Surface Ship Concepts. This position ensured that surface ship concepts met NAVSEA Standards and for maintaining the Navy’s technical pyramid that supports their development inclusive of personnel, tools and standards. 

Mierzwicki became the NAVSEA 05D1 division director in 2019, and has provided oversight to programs and projects serving such as the T-AGOS(X), DDG1000 Railgun, and Large Surface Combatant RETs.  More recently, led the Future Surface Combatant Force analysis of alternatives, which underpins the Navy’s shift towards a future force mix of unmanned and manned surface combatants.

Mr. Mierzwicki was nominated by alumnus Robert Keane, Jr. In his nomination, Keane wrote, “The extensive and broad ship design experience of Tim Mierzwicki leading to his recent position as the US Navy’s Advanced Surface Ship Concepts Technical Warrant Holder, his present position as the new Director, Future Concepts and Force Architecture Division, and his many outstanding contributions to the US Navy's present and future fleet are well-deserving of his election to the Academy of AOE Excellence.”

Thurmond Senter

Thurmond Senter (B.S. aerospace engineering, ‘99; M.S. aerospace engineering ‘02) is the executive manager for military Advanced Programs Engineering at GE Edison Works (or GE Aviation) in Cincinnati, Ohio, responsible for shaping opportunities to install new or derivative propulsion systems into advanced military applications and inventing and maturing technologies that differentiate those products.

He began his career with GE in 1995 on the engineering co-op program and transitioned to full time in 1999.  Thurmond has accumulated over 23 years of gas turbine design and engineering management experience with GE, predominantly working advanced military programs. 

Putting his VT degree to good use, early in his career Mr. Senter led the development and test efforts for the F136 augmentor. In addition to leading the aero / combustion / signature integration design teams, Thurmond pioneered development of computational fluid dynamics tools and techniques for military exhaust systems, laying a foundation for major updates to GE’s augmentor and nozzle aero design practices.  

Following his work on the F136, Thurmond owned a portion of the Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology (or ADVENT) fan module, working on the convertible fan system design that led to the XA100 Adaptive Engine technology.  Senter has served in roles of increasing responsibility in design and systems engineering, holds multiple patents, and for his engineering contributions has been awarded the GE Edward Woll Young Engineers Award for outstanding leadership and initiative and the Professional Accomplishment In Industry Award from the Engineers & Scientists of Cincinnati.  

A vocal advocate for his alma mater, Mr. Senter served as GE Aviation’s Lead Recruiter for Virginia Tech for 9 years.  He has been a guest lecturer and has served on the Virginia Tech Industrial Advisory Council for the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity.

Mr. Senter was nominated by alumnus Gordon Follin, who is also a member of this Academy. “What sets Thurmond Senter apart from his peers is his embracement of Ut Prosim. He is a true Hokie and deserving of joining the ranks of the Virginia Tech Academy of AOE Excellence Award winners.” 

Clyde F. Simmerman, Jr.

Clyde F. Simmerman, Jr. (B.S., aerospace engineering, ‘88) is the Technical Director for the Air Vehicle Department at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division of the US Navy, a position he has held since 2008. Simmerman serves as the lead technical authority for an organization of over 1,000 engineers deployed nationally and internationally who are charged with all aspects of cradle to grave engineering support of all USN manned and unmanned air vehicles and their constituent systems.

He began his professional career at the Naval Air Test Center in Patuxent River Maryland, where his primary duties were in design and structural analysis for temporary and permanent installations on over a dozen varieties of USN aircraft, both fixed and rotary-wing.  He also served as structural support to a number of flight test programs and was fortunate in being able to audit the courses taught at the US Navy Test Pilot School, and fly with an instructor there.

During his tenure at Naval Air Test Center, he frequently acted as a liaison with military airworthiness certification authorities and in the early to mid 1990’s, he began to work with them in certification activities involving fixed wing aircraft.   As his experience and knowledge grew, he was assigned as platform coordinator for all structural issues on the H-46 and H-53, as well as V-22, and became an airworthiness signature authority for those aircraft in strength and fatigue. 

He was selected to be the head of the rotary wing strength and fatigue section at NAWCAD in 2003, supporting all acquisition and fielding issues on all US Navy and US Marine Corps rotary wing platforms including the Presidential Executive Transport.  Later in 2009, he was selected as the branch head at NAWCAD covering the areas of patrol, trainer, and rotary wing aircraft strength and fatigue.  Along the way, he helped author many US and US Navy military airworthiness standards and specifications for helicopter and aircraft design and fielding, developed design certification criteria for new and novel aircraft structures from all materials including metal and composite.   

Due to his expertise and broad experience, he is frequently called upon to support and solve special issues in Naval Aviation and has worked on a number of industry/government blue ribbon teams.   He works frequently with other USN Commands and other DoD organizations such as the Office of Naval Research, the USAF, DARPA, and others.  

Mr. Simmerman, Jr. was nominated by alumna Jessica Holmberg. She said, “Mr. Simmerman serves as an excellent technical engineering leader in a large government organization that has strong ties to Virginia Tech's AOE department through research, mentoring and recruitment/employment. Clyde demonstrates the highest technical standards in his work and leadership, and mentors engineers throughout the organization. As a Senior Scientific and Technical Manager, he is at the pinnacle of his technical career within NAWCAD. Clyde is a well regarded leader within NAVAIR/NAWCAD and with all our partner organizations with which he interacts. He is an outstanding asset to the US Navy and would be a great asset to the AOE department as a member of the Academy of AOE Excellence.”


Alumni Awards and Departmental Honors

In addition to our academy membership, the department recognizes achievements and accomplishments of our alumni in all stages of their careers, and honors contributions of faculty and staff.

Emerging Leaders Award: Recognizing alumni in the early stages of their career (been in the workforce no more than 10 years). Nominees are on the “fast track” and have made rapid advancement within their organizations, or have been recognized for early professional achievements by others within their profession, field, or organization. They are considered to be future leaders in their profession.

Rosa Avalos-Warren
Daniel Cadel
Samantha Rocker
James (JP) Stewart

Award for Service and Engagement: Presented to alumni who have furthered department projects and activities through generously giving of their time and efforts as a volunteer to the department and University.

Sade Morris 
Robert Roedts

Distinguished Faculty Award: In recognition of faculty members for lifelong contributions to the profession, field, University or society at large. Nominees have brought distinction to the department, evidenced by activities that extend beyond normal expectations, unique contributions, or long standing leadership and impact on the University and beyond.

William H. Mason (1947 - 2019)
Joseph A. Schetz

Meritorious Staff Award: Honoring staff members for their commendable service to the department and University. Nominees have demonstrated their commitment to excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service.

Jane E. Johnston
James Lambert