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William H. Mason Memorial Distinguished Lecture Series


Ms. Jill Marlowe, NASA, Digital Transformation Officer, "NASA's Digital Transformation Journey - Ut Prosim in Futurum"
Hosted on September 11, 2023

NASA has a long history of serving the Nation and the world, by reaching for new heights and revealing the unknown for the benefit of all humankind. To ensure the agency will deliver on its mission in a hyper-connected, technology-enabled, globally-partnered, and rapidly-changing world, in 2020 NASA launched a Digital Transformation initiative to modernize the way it works, the experience of its workforce and the agility of its workplace.  Come hear how Hokies have shaped NASA’s digital strategy, the exciting progress being made, and lessons learned from their journey - and join the debate on how Virginia Tech can lead the way preparing the next generation to serve the world in a digital future.

Ms. Jill Marlowe is the Agency’s Digital Transformation Officer, and leads the Agency to conceive, architect, and accelerate enterprise digital solutions that transform NASA's work, workforce and workplace to achieve bolder missions faster and more affordably than ever before. In this role, she first defined and refines NASA’s digital transformation vision, strategy, and policies to accelerate NASA’s transformation progress focused on four targets: engineering, discovery, program/project management decision making, business operations. She partners with internal/external organizations to plan, coordinate and integrate implementation activities exercising five digital levers to accelerate progress: interoperable architectures, process transformation, maximizing data, common tools, inclusive teaming.

Prior to this role, Ms. Marlowe was the Associate Center Director, Technical, at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Ms. Marlowe led strategy and transformation of the center’s technical capabilities to assure NASA’s future mission success. In this role, she focused on accelerating Langley’s internal and external collaborations as well as the infusion of digital technologies critical for the center to thrive as a modern federal laboratory in an ever more digitally-enabled, hyper-connected, fast-paced, and globally-competitive world.

In 2008, Ms. Marlowe was selected to the Senior Executive Service as the Deputy Director for Engineering at NASA Langley, and went on to serve as the center’s Engineering Director and Research Director. With the increasing responsibility and scope of these roles, Ms. Marlowe has a broad range of leadership experiences that include: running large organizations of 500 - 1,000 people to deliver solutions to every one of NASA’s mission directorates; sustaining and morphing a diverse portfolio of technical capabilities spanning aerosciences, structures & materials, intelligent flight systems, space flight instruments, and entry descent & landing systems; assuring safe operation of over two-million square feet of laboratories and major facilities; architecting partnerships with universities, industry and other government agencies to leverage and advance NASA’s goals; project management of technology development and flight test experiments; and throughout all of this, incentivizing innovation in very different organizational cultures spanning foundational research, technology invention, flight design and development engineering, and operations. She began her NASA career in 1990 as a structural analyst developing numerous space flight instruments to characterize Earth’s atmosphere.

Ms. Marlowe’s formal education includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering from Virginia Tech in 1988, a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1990, and a Degree of Engineer in Civil and Environmental Engineering at George Washington University in 1997. She serves on advisory boards for Virginia Tech’s Aerospace & Ocean Engineering Department, the Virginia Tech Center for Research in Aero/Hydrodynamic Technologies, Sandia National Laboratory’s Engineering Sciences Research Foundation, and Cox Communications Digitally Inclusive Communities (regional). She is an AIAA Fellow, and her recognition includes a Meritorious Presidential Rank Award, two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, election to the Virginia Tech Academy of Aerospace & Ocean Engineering Excellence, and being voted the 2017 NASA Champion of Innovation. She lives in southeastern Virginia with her husband and the youngest of their three children and their energetic labradoodle.

2022: Dr. Daniel Miller, Lockheed Martin, "Sunset or Sunrise? A Skunk Works Take on Flow Control for Tomorrow's Air Vehicles"

Abstract: Tomorrow's air vehicles will need higher degrees of platform functionality, performance, and integration of enabling advanced subsystems than those in service today. New platforms will most likely be unconventional configurations as well. This lecture will provide an overview of promising emergent flow control technologies in this context as well as the prospects of new technologies buying their way onboard an aircraft. Active flow control has emerged as one of the technologies that could improve aircraft performance by removing jointed surfaces which increase weight and mechanical complexity. Here is a link to a one-minute YouTube video which offers an intriguing glimpse of the promise of this technology: https://

Bio: Mr. Daniel N. Miller is a Senior Fellow in the Air Vehicle Engineering organization of the Skunk Works® division of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company. He has led pioneering research and made valuable contributions in flight sciences and vehicle systems in embedded propulsion, flow control, directed energy (DE)/laser weapon systems (LWS) integration, aerooptics, CFD, and robust design. Daniel's air platform experience spans F-35, F-22, F-16, F-117, ISR, UAS, C-130, X-30, and advanced programs. Daniel's stellar professional contributions include 60+ publications, 35+ patents, an AIAA industry-standard textbook, short courses, technical chair of fluid dynamics technical committee, airborne DE systems integration committee, NATO innovative control effectors for maneuvering of air vehicles. Among the many awards he has received for his technical achievements, two stand out: the highly coveted Corporate NOVA award, which is the Lockheed Martin Corporation’s highest award for technical achievement, and the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company AeroStar award. Daniel holds M.S. and B.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

2021:  Dr. Russ Cummings, Director of the Hypersonic Vehicle Simulation Institute, US Air Force Academy,  "Bill Mason and the US Air Force Academy"

Abstract: Bill Mason was an integral part of the creation of the book "Applied Computational Aerodynamics: A Modern Engineering Approach." In order to facilitate the writing and editing of the book, Bill was invited to be a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA). During his time at USAFA Bill taught aircraft design and computational aerodynamics, conducted research into computational simulation of complex vehicle aerodynamics, and worked with his USAFA co-authors on the textbook that would eventually be published in 2015. The lecture will cover all of these endeavors, as well as some of the challenges in bringing his aerodynamic programs into the book's projects and pedagogy.

Bio:  Dr. Cummings is Professor of Aeronautics and Managing Director of the DoD HPCMP Hypersonic Vehicle Simulation Institute at the US Air Force Academy. From 2015-2018 he was the Technical Director at AFOSR’s European Office of Aerospace Research & Development in London. Dr. Cummings is a graduate of the University of Southern California where he received his Ph.D. degree in Aerospace Engineering, and also has earned B.S., B.A., and M.S. degrees from California Polytechnic State University. He currently serves as deputy editor of the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, and is an associate editor of the Journal of Aircraft and Aerospace Science and Technology. He is co-author of the Sixth Edition of Aerodynamics for Engineers and lead author for the Applied Computational Aerodynamics textbook. Dr. Cummings has previously worked at Hughes Aircraft Company, NASA Ames Research Center, and California Polytechnic State University. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and the Royal Aeronautical Society.

About the Lecture Series

Bill Mason

The William H. Mason Memorial Distinguished Lecture is sponsored by the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering in memory of Dr. Bill Mason, a dedicated educator at Virginia Tech from 1989 until his passing in 2019. He was a lifelong Hokie, having earned his bachelor’s degree in 1971, a master’s degree in 1972, and a doctoral degree in 1975, all in aerospace engineering at Virginia Tech.

Dr. Mason was deeply passionate about airplanes. As a teenager, he spent countless hours building and flying model airplanes. As an undergraduate student at VT, he gained practical experience during summers working at McDonnell Douglas in St. Louis, Missouri, on various F-4 aircraft projects including the ‘swing wing’ F-4, and at the Edwards Air Force Base, California, on the U.S. Army Huey Cobra helicopters.

In 1974, he began his professional career with Grumman in Long Island, New York. Over the next 15 years, he made highly valuable contributions to many high-profile projects. Examples include (i) the X-29, an experimental aircraft with a forward-swept wing and canard; (ii) the NASA/Grumman Research Fighter Configuration with supercruise and maneuvering capabilities; and (iii) the SC3 Wing Concept which set a record for low drag at high-lift supersonic performance.

Dr. Mason returned to VT in 1989 and immediately devoted himself to sharing his knowledge with undergraduate and graduate students, his colleagues, and student design teams. He taught courses in aircraft design; applied computational aerodynamics; and configuration aerodynamics while performing research in aerospace systems design; multidisciplinary optimization; and applied aerodynamics. His legacy lives on with a large number of students he educated and advised by generously sharing his unique insights in aerodynamics and hydrodynamics. He co-authored Applied Computational Aerodynamics: A Modern Engineering Approachone of the first textbooks in the world on this subject for undergraduates. In addition, he also authored an unpublished manuscript of Configuration Aerodynamics textbook, and authored or co-authored more than 100 technical papers and reports.

A consummate professional and an unpretentious man, he combined his love of aircraft and vast knowledge and experience of design and configuration aerodynamics in extraordinary ways to make a lasting difference.

Virginia Tech honors Dr. Mason’s legacy and contributions by hosting an annual lecture in fall on topics related to aerospace and ocean vehicle systems design including multidisciplinary optimization, applied fluid dynamics, and aerospace engineering education.