NASA's Michael Griffin appointed eminent scholar, professor at University of Alabama at Huntsville


The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAHuntsville) has named Michael Griffin, one of the world’s leading aerospace engineers, as an eminent scholar and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

The announcement was made today by President David Williams.

In 2005, Dr. Griffin was appointed as the 11th NASA Administrator, serving in that role until earlier this year. He was previously Head of the Space Department at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) of the Johns Hopkins University, and he played a leading role in numerous other space missions through employment at the APL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Computer Science Corporation.

Prior to joining APL, he served in many executive positions with aerospace-related companies and he has held several academic appointments. Dr. Griffin has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, the Johns Hopkins University, and George Washington University.

“Michael Griffin is recognized worldwide as a leading authority on aerospace engineering and as a visionary for American space flight,” Williams said. “We believe his contributions to this university and the Huntsville community will be of tremendous value. This appointment adds new dimensions to historic areas of strength, making his appointment an investment in the future of UAHuntsville.

“Dr. Griffin’s appointment as a professor and eminent scholar will help raise the visibility of our aerospace engineering program to an even higher level. His achievements, both from a technical standpoint and as an academician, make him a valuable addition to our campus and provide great opportunities for this university. I'm delighted that Mike has decided to come and educate our students and collaborate with our faculty and with the rest of the Huntsville aerospace community.”

Griffin looks forward to his new role at UAHuntsville.

"Everyone I have talked to in Huntsville, beginning with Dave Williams and his senior staff at UAHuntsville, university trustees, and local industry and community leaders, has been incredibly gracious in welcoming Rebecca and me to the Huntsville community,” he said. “For my part, in my new role at the university and in the larger community, I look forward to the opportunity to show how glad we are to be here.

"I intend to remain actively involved in all aspects of U.S. defense and civil space programs,” he added, including such activities as teaching, research and helping develop the next generation of aerospace designers and leaders.

Dr. Griffin will be filling the university’s eminent scholar position in engineering. An endowment for this appointment was established 20 years ago but the position was never occupied. Dollars invested in this endowment have been growing during the past two decades. “The university has carefully conserved the resources in its Eminent Scholar Foundation awaiting the right opportunity to invest that endowment,” Williams said. “This is that right opportunity.”

Dr. Griffin is expected to assume his duties in mid-May.

He is member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics, an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society, and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the AIAA Space Systems Medal and Goddard Astronautics Award, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award which can be conferred on a non-government employee. He is also the 2009 recipient of the National Space Club's Goddard Trophy, and the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement.

Dr. Griffin has taught courses in spacecraft design, applied mathematics, guidance and navigation, compressible flow, computational fluid dynamics, spacecraft attitude control, astrodynamics, and introductory aerospace engineering. He is the lead author of numerous technical papers, as well as the textbook Space Vehicle Design, and is a Registered Professional Engineer in Maryland and California.

He previously served as both the Chief Engineer and the Associate Administrator for Exploration at NASA, and as the Deputy for Technology of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization. Prior to joining SDIO in an executive capacity, he played a key role in conceiving and directing several "first of a kind" space tests in support of strategic defense research, development, and flight testing. These included the first space-to-space intercept of a ballistic missile in powered flight, the first broad-spectrum spaceborne reconnaissance of targets and decoys in midcourse flight, and the first space-to-ground reconnaissance of ballistic missiles during the boost phase.

Dr. Griffin obtained his B.A. in Physics from the Johns Hopkins University, which he attended as the winner of a Maryland Senatorial Scholarship. He holds Master's degrees in Aerospace Science from Catholic University, Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, Applied Physics from Johns Hopkins, Civil Engineering from George Washington University, and Business Administration from Loyola College of Maryland. He received his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.

About UAHuntsville

UAHuntsville is a research-intensive, public coeducational university accredited to award baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees. The university has colleges of business, engineering, liberal arts, nursing and science, and a school of graduate studies.

The university is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the 150 best national doctoral universities in the nation.

UAHuntsville is a Space Grant university, and is among the national leaders in NASA-sponsored research. The campus is located near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and serves as the anchor tenant in Cummings Research Park, the second largest university research park in the United States.

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