Virginia Tech®home

William H. Mason Memorial Distinguished Lecture Series


Dr. Russ Cummings, U.S. Air Force Academy
"Bill Mason and the U.S. Air Force Acdemy"
Hosted on September 27, 2021

W. H. Mason, Russ Cummings

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.

Dr. Russ 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.