Previous Distinguished Alumni Awards

Each year the faculty of the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics recognizes outstanding contributions to aerospace engineering and the nation's progress in air and space by electing a Distinguished Alum.

2016  Dr. Leland Nicolai  BS ‘57

Dr. Leland Nicolai BS ‘57

Dr.  Leland Nicolai (BS ‘57), renowned educator, author, and aircraft designer, has been selected as the department’s 2016 Distinguished Alumnus. Dr. Nicolai will be the keynote speaker at our graduation celebration on June 10, 2016, and will be honored there by our faculty, our students and their families and guests.

Dr. Nicolai has spent more than five decades in service to his country as an educator, author and aircraft designer. He spent 23 years in the US Air Force as an R&D Officer and aircraft designer (retiring as a Colonel in 1982) and 34 years in the aerospace industry as an aircraft designer/developer (retiring as a Lockheed Martin Fellow).

As an educator, Dr. Nicolai conducted a five-day aircraft design short course in Dayton, OH for 25 years and a 15 week aircraft design course as part of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Technical Institute in Burbank and Palmdale, CA for 30 years. Over 2000 practicing engineers went through the two programs; Dr. Nicolai has visited over 20 schools in the last three decades for lectures, design reviews, seminars, and speeches (AIAA student chapters, banquets and graduation).

Dr. Nicolai has written four text books on aircraft design:

  • Fundamentals of Aircraft Design, METS Inc., Dayton, OH, 1975
  • Fundamentals of Aircraft and Airship Design, Volume 1 Aircraft Design, AIAA, Reston, VA 2010
  • Volume 2 Airship Design, AIAA, Reston, VA 2013; Lessons Learned: A Guide to Developing a Winning Design, AIAA, Reston, VA 2016.

The first three of these books are used in US universities.

While deployed to The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 1977, Col. Nicolai designed and developed a low signature, nuclear tipped, air-launched cruise missile called the Advanced Cruise Missile (ACM). This program was classified with code name TEAL DAWN and technical support out of Wright=Patterson AFB, Dayton, OH. The full-scale design was developed by Convair, San Diego. The ACM program was transferred to the Air Force in 1982 as the AGM-129A and was recognized (came out of the black) in 1988. Convair produced 460 ACMs and none were ever launched in anger.

Dr. Nicolai has received degrees from the University of Washington (BSAE 1957), University of Oklahoma (MSAE 1962), University of Michigan (PhD AE 1968), Auburn University (MBA 1976) and Air War College (1976).

2015  2015.jpg

Gregory C. Johnson , BS '77
After graduating from the UW, alumnus Gregory Johnson attended the Naval Aviation Officer Candidate Program, went on to graduate from the US Air Force Test Pilot School and later served as maintenance department head in an operational A-6 squadron at the Naval Air Station at Whidbey Island, Washington. In 1990, he accepted a position as an aerospace engineer and research pilot with NASA’s Johnson Space Center Aircraft Operations, and in 1998 was selected to become an astronaut. Johnson was the pilot for the final space shuttle mission, STS-125, to the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009. The mission was accomplished in 12 days, 21 hours, 37 minutes and 09 seconds, traveling 5,276,000 miles in 197 Earth orbits.

Johnson is currently a management astronaut assigned as the Acting Chief, Aircraft Operations Division which manages 25 aircraft of five different types. During his illustrious career, Johnson has received many awards and honors, including the NASA James A. Korkowski Excellence in Achievement Award; Carrier Airwing Fourteen and Fifteen Top Ten Tailhook Pilot; three Navy Meritorious Service Medals; three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals; the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; and the Humanitarian Service Medal.

2014  Dana Andrews

Dana Andrews, MS '66
After graduating from the UW, Dana Andrews attended California Institute of Technology where he received an MS in Aeronautics & Astronautics. After graduation, Dana worked for a year at Boeing and then attended Stanford University where he received his PhD in Aeronautics & Astronautics in 1974. During the final years of his PhD program Dana again joined Boeing working as an airplane configurator on the SST program. Dana served as an Affiliate Professor in the William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics at the University of Washington for several years. Prior to that, Dana was the Chief Technology Officer for Andrews Space, Inc., a moderate-sized aerospace company located in Tukwila, WA. He joined Andrews Space when he retired from Boeing in 2000.

2013 Kevin Fowler

Kevin Fowler, MS '83
Kevin Fowler is the Chief Architect of Processes and Tools for Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). In this role, he is responsible for the process and tool architectural approach, the integrity of production solutions, and ensuring that there is a go-forward strategy that supports BCA business objectives. Prior to this assignment, he was Vice President of Processes and Tools for the 787 program, where he led development and implementation of the solutions for the 787 global production system, including new design, build, and support capabilities.

2012 Ron Dittemore

Ron Dittemore, BS '74, MS '75
Ron Dittemore is the former senior vice president and former president of ATK Launch Systems, a division of ATK with over 5,000 employees and $1.1 billion in revenue. Dittemore joined ATK in 2003 as assistant to the chief operating officer. From April 2004 through June 2008, Dittemore served as president of ATK Launch Systems. In this capacity he was responsible for the overall management of marketing, design, development, manufacturing and support operations of ATK's space and strategic propulsion business unit. Dittemore also served seven years as a Space Shuttle flight director at the Johnson Space Center with responsibility for the overall leadership, flight preparation, and direction of Space Shuttle missions from NASA's Mission Control Center.


Lars Q. Andersen, BS '68
Lars Q. Anderson earned a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics & Astronautics from the University of Washington in 1968, where he also earned two varsity letters in rowing. He worked as a propulsion engineer at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Engines from 1969 to 1973, concurrently completing a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1972.
After thirty-four years of leadership at Boeing, culminating as Vice President/Program Manager with responsibility for all models of the 777 family of airplanes, Lars Andersen retired in 2007. Three years later, Boeing called him back to serve as Vice President of 777 Product Development for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. He is responsible for planning the future of Boeing’s twin-aisle airplanes.

2010 Dennis Muilenburg

Dennis A. Muilenburg, MS '90
Dennis Muilenburg is president and chief executive officer of Boeing Defense, Space & Security and serves on the company’s Executive Council. Muilenburg joined Boeing in 1985 and has held a progression of program management and engineering positions on a broad range of large-scale programs, including JAST/ASTOVL, F-22, AFX, Multi-role Fighter, EX surveillance platform, 747 Airborne Laser, Advanced Tactical Fighter, National Aerospace Plane, High Speed Civil Transport, Condor reconnaissance aircraft, and a number of proprietary programs. He also is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

2009 gratzer Louis B. Gratzer, BS '44, MS '51, PhD '68
Gratzer is Senior Vice President of Aviation Partners, Inc. (API), and is responsible for the product development of aircraft performance enhancement systems. He retired from Boeing Commercial Airplane Company in 1986. While at Boeing (1953-1986), Dr. Gratzer directed aerodynamic research in high-speed wings, drag reduction, and high-lift systems, the latter involving flight research on boundary layer control using the 707 prototype. Dr. Gratzer is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He has contributed significantly to the body of aeronautical knowledge. He holds patents on a number of aerodynamic and propulsion system devices.
2008 James Watson '49 James Watson '49
Watson initially worked at Northrop Aircraft Company in the Special Weapons Branch. Watson next became a Group Flight Test Engineer at Ryan Aeronautical Company. At the request of a former supervisor, he joined the fledgling Avco Research and Advance Development Division as Section Chief of Planning and Evaluation. He was then appointed Director of Product Assurance (Quality Control, Reliability and Value Engineering) for the Aeronutronic Division. Watson was also appointed Chairman of the Board of Ford Aerospace International Corporation and served on many committees. Watson retired in July 1988.
2007 Robert B Brown Robert B. Brown, BS '47, MS '50
Upon completion of graduate school, Robert Brown joined the Boeing Company as part of the B-47 Aero Unit. In 1950, while working for Boeing, he completed his master's degree thesis. Brown was with the Boeing Company from 1948 to 1990, leaving from 1981 to 1983 to work for Lockheed. At Lockheed, Brown was head of preliminary design for Skunkworks Programs, the lead designer for a B-1 alternative configuration, and the lead designer for the Lockheed Stealth Missile. He was lead designer for the Compass Cope Unmanned Air-Vehicle Design Program, for which he received the national AIAA Design Excellence Award in 1979. Since his retirement, Brown has continued to be active in airplane design.
2006 Stanley Beckelman Stanley Beckelman, BS '58
Stanley Beckelman graduated from the University of Washington in 1958 with a BS in aeronautical engineering, and later completed Executive Management, Marketing and Sales Programs at Columbia University. In 1958 Beckelman joined The Boeing Company as an astrodynamics engineer in development work for the Department of Defense missile programs at Boeing. In 1993 Beckleman became President of Boeing Information Services. Beckelman served on a United States Presidential Commission, the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. He also served on the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association Board as director and as an international officer.
2005 Ed Bock Ed Bock, BS '61
Ed Bock devoted most of his career to the Atlas space launch vehicle at General Dynamics and Lockheed. By the time he retired in 2000, he was vice president at Lockheed in charge of recurring Atlas programs. He led technology development for several generations of launchers, and compiled a record of 48 straight successful Atlas missions.
2004 Gerard Brachet Gerard Brachet, MSc. '68
Mr. Gerard Brachet holds an engineering degree from the Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Aeronautique (1967) and a MSc in Aeronautics and Astronautics from UW (1968). He began his professional career at the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) in France, and from 1972 to 1982 was Head of the Orbit Determination and Spacecraft Dynamics Department. Mr. Brachet was directly involved in defining and developing the French SPOT satellite program in 1978. In 1982 Mr. Brachet was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SPOT IMAGE. From 1981 to 1989 Mr. Brachet was President of the French Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.
2003 Lynn Olason Lynn Olason, BS '43
While an engineering and Army R.O.T.C. student at the University of Washington, Lynn fastened wing parts for Boeing during the summers. Upon graduation, Lynn worked at Boeing for a short time, while awaiting a military assignment. After the war, Lynn returned to Seattle as an aeronautical engineer for Boeing, eventually becoming Chief of Aerodynamics for all commercial airplanes. He participated in the commercial certification of the Stratocruiser, together with A&A distinguished alumni, Jack Steiner and Joe Sutter. In 1978, Lynn was promoted to Vice President/General Manager of the 747 Division. During that period, the upper deck of the 747 was elongated by more than 23 feet, into the configurations that are present today on the 747-300 and 747-400. Mr. Olason passed away from natural causes on April 21, 2010.
2002 Jerry Rising Jerry Rising, BS '61
After obtaining his undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in 1961, Jerry was employed by General Dynamics in San Diego to work on the Atlas missile program. Jerry moved on to Lockheed after 4 years and spent the remaining 35 years of his career at Lockheed Martin. Jerry was transferred to the Skunk Works in 1982 where, in addition to the F-117, he worked on the SR-71 and U-2 reconnaissance aircraft and numerous other classified advanced programs. Jerry held the positions of Aerodynamics Department Manager, Chief Engineer for Flight Sciences, Director of Advanced Programs, and Vice President for X-33. He is an Associate Fellow of AIAA.
2001 Randall Peeters Randall Peeters, PhD '73 , MS '69
Dr. Randall Peeters joined Ocean Power in December 2000 as Chief Scientist. Before joining Ocean Power, Randy was the Chief Scientist for GenCorp Aerojet. Randy received both his Ph.D. (1973) and M.S. (1969) degrees from the UW in Aeronautics and Astronautics and his BS from the California State Polytechnic University. He has also pursued graduate and undergraduate course work at UC Davis resulting in two certificate programs in the environmental area. He has over 35 technical publications and presentations. Currently he is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
1999 Suzanna Darcy Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann, BS '81
Rising through the ranks at Boeing, Suzanna has served as production test pilot and as captain of both the 747-400 and 777. In her current role as chief project pilot, she captained the 777-200LR that, in November 2005, set the nonstop distance record for a commercial jet - 13,422 miles.
1998 Lloyd Frisbee Lloyd Frisbee, BS '42
As vice president of the Lockheed Corporation, Lloyd's impressive career included responsibilities for the full-scale structural testing of the NASA Space Shuttle at Palmdale, and overseeing the design and development of the military C-141 and C-5A, and the commercial L-1011.
1997 George Snyder George Snyder, BS '31
graduated in the first class to matriculate in the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics at the UW in 1931. He then worked as a project engineer with the then Boeing Airplane Company. In 1966, he was named Vice President - Engineering for the Everett Branch of the Commercial Airplane Division. In 1970 he became Vice President - Engineering over the then-consolidating 707/727/737 programs. After retiring in 1972, Snyder consulted for The Boeing Company for several years, spent a year as Special Assistant to the President of Israel Aircraft Industries, Ltd. in Israel.
1996 Fitzsimmons

Richard Fitzsimmons, BS '46
spent the first six years of his career at Boeing in preliminary design. He then became a Project Engineer on the model 720 airplane. In 1960 he was named Manager of Exploratory Development. In 1967 he became Director of Product Research, and in 1970, became the head of the aeronautics staff at the National Aeronautics and Space Council in the Executive Office of the President. In 1980 he was named Director of Advanced Program Engineering, covering programs such as the MD-11, the MD-80 derivatives, the VTX Navy Trainer, the C-17, as well as all R&D activities. Dick's many honors include his election as a Fellow of the AIAA and citations from the White House, NASA, and the FAA.

1995 Richard Scherrer Richard Scherrer, BS '42
was appointed chief Advanced Design Engineer in 1976 for Lockheed Advanced Development Co., and retired in 1979 to become an aircraft design consultant. After graduation, he worked for NACA/NASA before moving to Lockheed-California, where he was a key figure in the preliminary design of a wide range of military and commercial aircraft. As a preliminary Design Consultant, Dick played a major role in the early development of the Northrop B2 Stealth bomber, resulting in Northrop winning the Advanced Technology Bomber competition. Dick is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA and was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering in 2010.
1994 Rose Lunn Rose Lunn, BS '37
retired from North American Aviation, where she established the vibration and flutter group and the X-15 Mach 6.7 rocketplane. Her work covered the P51 Mustang, T28, B25, T39, F86, F100, and X15 Mach 5. The UW's first female A&A student, Rose graduated at the top of her class, and went on to M.I.T., completing an M.S. and all courses and exams for the Sc.D. degree. At M.I.T., Rose's research on aircraft flutter was an area of great interest due to the imminence of WW II; thus she left school to begin a position at Curtiss Wright before moving to North American Aviation. A pioneer for women, Rose did not receive traditional recognition; however, she was honored as the first recipient of Zonta International's Amelia Earhart scholarship.
1993 James Dwinnell James Dwinnell, BS '39
retired as Chief Engineer for Research and Resources Technology at Boeing Commercial, culminating a career of increasing responsibility covering a broad spectrum, such as Chief of Flight Technology Laboratories and Head of Military Airplane Technology. An Associate Professor of Aeronautical Engineering at the UW from 1941 to 1950, he served as supervisor of the UW Aeronautical Lab (UWAL). Jim authored "Principles of Aerodynamics," a book used by many aeronautical engineering instructors on the 1950's.
1992 John Fabian John Fabian, PhD '70
was a NASA astronaut for 8 years, on space shuttles Challenger (1983) and Discovery (1985), and managed astronaut training. He then was ASAF Director of Space, and moved to private industry in 1987, where he became President and CEO of ANSER (Analytical Services, Inc.) of Arlington, Virginia. After receiving his Ph.D., he was Associate Professor of Aeronautics at the Air Force Academy. His many honors include the Legion of Merit, the French Legion of Honor, and the NASA Space Flight Medal.
1991 Moustafa Chahine Moustafa Chahine, BS '56, MS '57
was chief Scientist at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Lab. "Moose" completed a Ph.D. at UC-Berkeley, and has been with JPL ever since. Moose has managed the Planeltary Atmospheres Section and the Division of Earth and Space Sciences at JPL, helped develop the U.S. program to study global change, and chaired the World Meteorological Organization's study on the effect of greenhouse gases. His numerous honors include his election as Fellow of the American Physical Society and the British Royal Meteorological Society.
1990 Robert Hage Robert Hage, BS '39
obtained an M.S. at M.I.T., taught at UW, and served with the Air Force before joining Boeing in 1946. There he held positions in design, sales, and engineering on jet transports, bombers and missiles. He moved to McDonnell Aircraft in 1958 as Vice President and General Manager, and subsequently carried out preliminary design of the DC10, studies that led to C17, and marketing of all military and commercial programs at Douglas. He retired as Corporate Vice President for McDonnell in 1979. Mr. Hage is co-author of a classic text, and is a fellow of the AIAA.
1989 Joseph Tymczyszyn Joseph Tymczyszyn, BS '48
served the FAA as an engineer, test pilot, and Chief of the West Coast SST Field Office. Starting with wartime service as a flight instructor, he obtained airline, commercial, civilian/military instructor ratings for dozens of aircraft types including seaplanes, skiplines, and helicoptors. He was one of three pilot-engineers who certifies the first round of jet transports, and he supervised research on a variety of flight management and safety issues. He has received a number of honors for his work and is a Fellow of the Society of Experimantal Test Pilots.
1988 Peter Drummond Peter Drummond, BS '39
retired as Vice President of Engineering for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft. After graduating Magna Cum Laude, he worked a brief period in industry; he then completed as M.S. at Caltech and joined Douglas Aircraft. During his career, he held key positions such as Director of Flight and Laboratories and Vice President, and contributed to a variety of challenging projects, among them the DC-6, DC-8, A3D, A4D, C-133, X-3, Zeus and Saturn rockets, Skylab, and solar thermal power plants.
1987 Victor Ganzer Victor Ganzer, BS '41
was Professor Emeritus of Aeronautics and Astronautics. After contributing to the P-38 and the aerodynamic design of the B-47, he accepted a position at the University of Washington in 1947, and served through the academic ranks and as Executive Officer of the Department. In 30 years he taught many different courses in aerodynamics, airplane design, airplane dynamics, stability and control, and flight testing; supervised theses on a broad range of related subjects; and educated a generation of students in the art and science of engineering and airplane design.
1986 Scott Crossfield Scott Crossfield, BS '49, MS '50
was consultant to the House Committee on Science and Technology. He joined NACA after graduation, and was the first to fly twice the speed of sound. At North American Aviation, he was involved in all phases of the X-15 project, flew the checkout flights, and reached Mach 3. He was later a technical director at North American, and he served as division vice president at eastern Airlines. Crossfield's many honors include presentation of the Harmon and Collier Trophies by President Kennedy, and induction into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Mr. Crossfield passed away in 2006.
1985 Joseph Sutter Joseph Sutter, BS '43
Joseph Sutter was a key figure in the development of Boeing's 747 aircraft. He headed the 747 division, later directed product development of the 757, 767, and 747-300 aircraft, and then served as vice president of Boeing Commercial Airplane Company. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, is a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and was presented the Medal of Technology by President Reagan for his work in 'developing three generations of airline jet aircraft."
1984 George Solomon George Solomon, BS '49
was executive vice president of TRW and general manager of the Electronics and Defense Sector. After earning a PhD at Caltech, Solomon joined the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation. He advanced from director of the Systems Research and Analysis Division, to vice president of the Space Technology Laboratory, and then to vice president and general manager of TRW Systems Group. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, past chairman of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the NRC, and a member of the NASA Advisory Council. Dr. Solomon passed away in 2005.
1983 George Martin George Martin, BS '31
retired as corporate vice president of Engineering for Boeing. He previously held the positions of chief engineer of the Seattle Division, and vice president of the Seattle Division of the Aerospace Division. He was chief of preliminary design and chief project engineer for the B52, and project engineer for the XB-47. He was a long time member of the College of Engineering Visiting Committee, has served in a number of government and industry technical review committees, and was a fellow of the AIAA. Mr. Martin passed away in 2003.
1982 Dale Myers Dale Myers, BS '43
was president and chief operating officer of Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. in Pasadena. He served as undersecretary of the Department of Energy, and as NASA associate administrator with responsibility for the Apollo, Skylab, and Shuttle programs. Prior to that he was corporate vice president of Rockwell International and president of North American Aircraft Operations. Myers has received the NASA and DOE Distinguished Service Awards, and was elected fellow of the AIAA and member of the National Academy of Engineering.
1981 William Hamilton William Hamilton, BS '41, MS '48
was vice president-chief scientist of the Boeing Military Airplane Company, having served as vice president of the Aerospace Company and of the Commercial Airplane Company. He has made major contributions to a number of aerospace projects, including the 707, B52, Dyna-Soar, Minuteman, B70, F111, SST, Shuttle IUS, Large Telescope, and YC14. He is a fellow of the AIAA and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and has served on the NASA Aeronautics Advisory Committee of the College of Engineering. Mr. Hamilton passed away in 2002.
1980 George Jeffs George Jeffs, BS '45, MS '48
was president of Rockwell International Corporation's North American Aerospace Operations and vice president of Rockwell. In addition to directing the company's Apollo program, Jeffs has been responsible for the design, engineering, and construction of the Space Shuttle. He has been a leader in the nation's space program since its inception and has received many honors for his work, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, two NASA Distinguished Public Service Medals, and election to the National Academy of Engineering.
1979 Maynard Pennell Maynard Pennell, BS '31
retired from the Boeing Company in 1974 after a career that included assignments as vice president of Product Development, director of Military Transport Development, SST Program director, Director of Aircraft Systems, and director of Engineering, Transport Division. In the latter capacity, he was responsible for the development of the 707, 720, and 727 jet transports. He was a fellow of the AIAA and SAE, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and he served on the College of Engineering Visiting Committee. Mr. Pennell passed away in 1994.
1978 John Steiner John Steiner, BS '40
was vice president and corporate director of Product Development, The Boeing Company, and played a key role in the design, development, and marketing of every Boeing airplane over the past 25 years. He has received numerous national and international awards, including fellowship in the Royal Aeronautical Society and the AIAA, and has been selected twice as Aviation Week's "Man of the Year". In 1978, he was honored as Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus, the highest award that the University of Washington can bestow on a graduate. Mr. Steiner passed away in 2003.