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Darris White

Class of 1996, 1998. B.S., M.S., Mechanical Engineering

Darris White

I spent several years designing suspension systems for Volvo Trucks North America prior to getting my Ph.D. from the University of Colorado-Boulder. My Ph.D. focus was on structural dynamics of wind turbine blades and fatigue testing. For the last 18 years, I have been a faculty member at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. During this time, I became involved with the Artemis project through a sabbatical leave at Lockheed Martin Space Systems. I continued to work on the project for two years after my sabbatical leave.

As humans return to the moon and look to explore beyond, what are you most excited to learn from the mission?

I'm very interested in the requirements, structures, and systems needed to make other planets and the moon habitable. 

What knowledge have you gained from being part of such an expansive, multidisciplinary endeavor?

In my more than 20 years of engineering I’ve designed many complicated systems, but the Orion transportation systems were by far the most complicated. Seeing all of the different systems work perfectly on the first-ever attempt at transporting Orion provides a sense of satisfaction matched only by the engineering challenge.

How did Virginia Tech prepare you for your current role?

My time at Virginia Tech was very rewarding. I had the opportunity to work on a number of student teams and research projects. For example, I worked on the Baja SAE team, was a teaching assistant for the Mechanical Engineering Lab, and did research with Mehdi Ahmadian on Rail Vehicles. A lot of the skills and software tools were important but working with a team and being able to communicate effectively are a must.

What do you think your younger self would think about your current work on Artemis?

Having focused on automotive and transportation research early in my career, I didn't expect to have this opportunity. But if you are well prepared and open to new experiences, I think opportunities like this present themselves. I'm glad I had this opportunity.

Want to share your story?

Contact: Jama Green, External Relations Manager