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 November 3. 

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.  

For 2023, the academy inducted five new members: Scott C. Asbury, Roger Burnett, Jay Gundlach, Martin Irvine, Jr. and Daniel G. Murri. These individuals were selected from some 6,700 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.

Scott C. Asbury
Scott C. Asbury

Scott C. Asbury

Mr. Scott Asbury (B.S., 1990) is a veteran aerospace leader with over 33 years of experience in the industry. Scott has built a storied career leading aircraft research and technology development projects at NASA, and major development programs for payloads, satellites and “system of systems” missions at Ball Aerospace and Sierra Space. 

Most recently, Scott was a Senior Director of Programs at Sierra Space in Broomfield, Colorado, where he guided program execution and operations in the Space Destinations sector. He served on the leadership team developing commercial space station architectures intended for sustained commercial in-orbit habitation in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Low-Earth Orbit Destinations program office at Johnson Space Center. 

Earlier in his career, he contributed to numerous NASA programs including the Ares launch vehicle avionics, JPSS-1 polar-orbiting weather satellite, the SAGE-III payload on the International Space Station, various earth-observing satellite payloads and U.S. Government national security missions. He has received numerous NASA individual and group achievement awards and was Ball Aerospace’s program manager of the year in 2008. 

Asbury was nominated by Dr. Pat Artis. In his nomination, Artis wrote, “Scott has been a leader in aerospace engineering for three decades since his graduation from Virginia Tech. He has maintained involvement with our students through the alumni mentoring program, has served on a wide variety of professional boards and commissions, and is active in professional organizations.”

Roger Burnett
Roger Burnett

Roger Burnett

Following Navy pilot training, Roger Burnett was assigned to F-4 squadrons for duty. After two major deployments he was selected as a project pilot for the Navy and NASA which verified requirements for the next Navy fighter aircraft as well as refining tactics against current threat aircraft. He was then assigned as an instructor in the F-4 aircraft. 

In 1976 he transitioned to the F-14 aircraft and completed several additional deployments. Burnett completed his operational career by commanding Fighter Squadron 33, the Tarsiers. He served in four fighter squadrons, accumulating over 4000 flight hours and 1000 carrier arrested landings on nine different aircraft carriers. 

Assigned to Naval Air Systems Command as lead engineer for the F-14 aircraft, Burnett led the F-14B and D through design reviews and first flights while also supporting over 500 deployed aircraft. As Director of Weapons Engineering, he oversaw the introduction of precision weapons, and as Program Manager of the Navy Advanced Tactical Fighter he led the Navy team developing an F-14 replacement based on the technology of the Air Force Advanced Tactical Fighter. Burnett finished his Navy career as Assistant Chief of Naval Research. He retired as a CAPTAIN, US Navy in 1996. 

Burnett was then hired by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab as aviation systems program manager. He led precision strike projects as well as supporting various aircraft developments. He also instructed systems engineering in the Whiting school graduate program. 

Burnett next worked at the Institute for Defense Analyses as part of the team evaluating the operational effectiveness of new aircraft and weapons. He was a major evaluator of the F-22. 

From 2005 to 2014, Burnett worked for the VP of Research at Virginia Tech, initially leading the team assigned with development of high-profile research projects, then as Department of Defense liaison. During this time, he began an association with the aerospace and ocean engineering department and volunteers to this day as a design team reviewer. 

Mr. Burnett was nominated By Pat Artis, Bob Canfield, and Pradeep Raj. “Roger has been a tireless contributor to our senior design process. He is respected by students and his contributions help our department to produce high quality students. While our faculty have worked on the response side of the RFP process, Roger's experience is from the government side of the process. He can explain the RFP from the perspective of the client. Students listen to Roger and it adds great value to our senior design process.”

Jay Gundlach
Jay Gundlach

Jay Gundlach

Dr. Jay Gundlach (B.S., 1998, M.S./PhD., 2002) is a leading Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) subject matter expert with nearly three decades of experience in UAS product development. He founded Gundlach Aerospace in 2013 to support UAS product development, strategy, and Department of Defense program offices. 

Recently he founded and served as CEO of RapidFlight LLC, a company dedicated to advanced additive manufactured high-performance UAS. During this time, he was also a Managing Director for Tracker Capital Management and Cerberus Capital Management with emphasis on aerospace and defense investments. 

Dr. Gundlach co-founded FlightHouse Engineering LLC in 2016, which specializes in detail design and prototyping. Dr. Gundlach previously served as Director of Conceptual Design at Aurora Flight Sciences, where he led advanced aircraft studies, successfully led large capture efforts, specifically DARPA TERN and VTOL X-Plane, and served as the Orion Ultra-Long Endurance UAS program manager. Dr. Gundlach also served as  Insitu’s Vice President of Advanced Development, where he invented and led the development of the Integrator product, managed research projects, developed the product roadmap, and oversaw the integration of over a dozen payloads into ScanEagle and Integrator. 

Earlier in his career, he worked at the Naval Research Laboratory as a contractor where he helped develop 17 UASs and as a contractor supporting Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems in advanced transport research. Over his career, Dr. Gundlach has worked on over 60 unique UAS types that achieved at least first flight. His UAS designs have cumulatively achieved well over a million operational flight hours. 

Dr. Gundlach was nominated by alumnus Matthew Orr. “Jay Gundlach has made significant and sustained contributions to the aerospace industry, through vehicle design, his patents, and the founding of multiple successful UAS companies. He has  demonstrated service to the AIAA via the Aircraft Design Technical Committee, and  written three authoritative textbooks on UAS design.”

Martin Irvine, Jr.
Martin Irvine, Jr.

Martin Irvine, Jr. 

Dr. Martin Irvine, Jr. (B.S., 1997, M.S., 2000), serves as the Executive Director for Naval Surface Warfare Center and Naval Undersea Warfare Center, both Echelon III commands within Naval Sea Systems Command. In this role, Dr. Irvine is responsible for leading more than 29,000 civilian scientists, engineers, technicians, and support personnel within ten divisions located across the country, performing over $14 billion of research, development, test, and evaluation for the future Navy, and providing in-service engineering and logistics support for the operational fleet. 

Prior to assuming his current position, Dr. Irvine was the Executive Director, Submarine Forces, where he was the principal advisor to the Submarine Force Commander on all matters relating to Strategic Deterrence and Undersea Warfare (USW) programs and requirements. 

Dr. Irvine was selected for appointment into the Senior Executive Service in July 2019. He has 25 years of experience as a civil servant for the U.S. Navy. From 2019 to 2021, Dr. Irvine was the Technical Director of Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport. 

Dr. Irvine has previously held the positions with the Readiness & Training Systems Department for the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division; the SSTM Director of Systems Engineering Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and the Office of Naval Research Science Advisor positions. Dr. Irvine also was a research faculty member at the Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State University in State College, Pa. 

Dr. Irvine has received many awards for his performance, including the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award for his service to Commander, Submarine Forces in 2023 and the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award for his service to COMNECC in 2014.

Irvine was nominated by professor Stefano Brizzolara and alumna Anna Wegman Irvine. Mrs. Irvine wrote, “Because of the tremendous professional opportunities his education has afforded him, Marty has emphasized mentorship and giving back to the education and development of future Ocean Engineers. He serves on the AOE Advisory Board, mentors students through the departmental mentoring program, and has been known to teach an adjunct class when needed. Some might argue that Marty is the most accomplished Ocean Engineering graduate that the department has ever produced. His character, work ethic, and love for his family are incomparable and there is no better representative of the department, as evidenced in the way he has used his education to underpin a profoundly distinguished and influential career.”

Daniel G. Murri
Daniel G. Murri

Daniel G. Murri

Mr. Daniel Murri (B.S.,1981) retired from NASA in 2022 with over 40 years experience as a research engineer, Branch Head, and NASA Technical Fellow. He began working at the NASA Langley Research Center in 1978 as a co-op student, and returned to NASA Langley in 1981 as a full-time research engineer. For twenty years, he conducted theoretical analyses and wind-tunnel, flight simulation, and flight-test studies in support of aircraft development programs and the exploration of new aeronautics technologies. Much of his research focused on high-angle-of-attack aerodynamics and flight dynamics, loss of control, out-of-control modes of motion, and developing new understanding of flight dynamic phenomena. 

From 2001 to 2008, Mr. Murri was head of the NASA Langley Flight Dynamics Branch where he provided technical leadership and oversight of a broad range of research activities. 

From 2008 to 2022, Mr. Murri was the NASA Technical Fellow for Flight Mechanics - the senior technical authority at NASA in the discipline of Flight Mechanics. He led a nation-wide team of experts from NASA, industry, academia, and Department of Defense, and responded to high-risk NASA engineering issues in flight mechanics by assembling expert teams, conducting appropriate testing and analysis, and reporting findings and recommendations to program stakeholders. 

He has authored 69 referenced publications, has received two patents for his work on the development of advanced aerodynamic control concepts, and is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA. He is a recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the astronaut-awarded “Silver Snoopy” for his contributions to the safety of human space flight. 

Mr. Murri was nominated by alumnus David Dress. He wrote, “Over a 40-year career at NASA, Mr. Murri became an internationally recognized expert for his research on flight dynamics and the development of advanced control concepts. He made numerous and outstanding contributions in the development of new aerospace technologies and the solving of complex aerospace problems, and he finished the last 14 years of his career as the NASA Technical Fellow for Flight Mechanics – the senior Flight Mechanics technical authority at NASA. He has demonstrated deep technical expertise, innovative approaches to solving difficult flight dynamics problems, and professional leadership in the initiation and direction of research and development activities resulting in significant scientific contributions to NASA and the U.S. aerospace industry.”

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.

David W. Allen

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.

Nicole Pelliccia

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.

Roger Simpson

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.

Cory Thompson