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Kenneth J. Szalai Kenneth J. Szalai

Photo Number: EC97-43887-1
Photo Date: January 8, 1997

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Description: Kenneth J. Szalai was Director of the NASA Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., from January 1994 through July 1998. He retired from NASA at the end of July to join IBP Aerospace Group, Inc., as the company’s new president and chief operating officer.

As NASA's primary installation for flight research for more than half a century, Dryden is chartered to conceive and conduct experimental flight research for integrated flight and propulsion controls; advanced optical sensors and controls; viscous drag reduction; advanced configurations; high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft; remotely piloted vehicle technology; hypersonic vehicle experiments; high-speed research for civil transportation; atmospheric tests of advanced rocket and airbreathing propulsion concepts; instrumentation systems; and flight loads predictions. In carrying out this mission, Dryden operates some of the most advanced research aircraft in the nation.

When Dryden was administratively a part of the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., Szalai was director and also held the position of Ames Deputy Director for Dryden from December 1990 until assuming his current position

From 1982 until December 1990, Szalai directed the Dryden Research Engineering Division. He served as Associate Director of the Ames Research Center in 1989. Prior to 1982 he was chief of the Research Engineering Division's Dynamics and Control Branch, and chief of the Flight Control Section.

Szalai began his NASA career at Dryden in 1964 following graduation from the University of Wisconsin, where he attended both the Milwaukee and Madison campuses. His bachelor of science degree is in electrical engineering. He also received a master of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970.

Szalai was principal investigator on the F-8 Digital Fly-By-Wire program, which successfully flew the first aircraft equipped with a digital electronic flight control system without any mechanical reversion capability. Szalai also held research and systems engineering positions on several research aircraft programs investigating flying qualities, integrated flight controls, and fault tolerant-flight critical systems. He was also flight test engineer and principal investigator on the NASA Airborne Simulator before assuming management positions within the Research Engineering Division.

Szalai has worked in various technical and management positions on such programs as the F-111 IPCS, AFTI/F-16, HiMAT, F-15 DEEC, F-15 HIDEC, X-29, X-31, F-16XL Laminar Flow, Space Shuttle Orbiter, Pathfinder Solar Powered Aircraft, SR-71 Sonic Boom, F-15 and MD-11 Propulsion Controlled Aircraft, X-33, and X-38.

Szalai has authored over 25 papers and reports and has been a lecturer for the NATO Advisory Group for Aeronautical Research and Development (AGARD). He has served on various technical committees and subcommittees for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Szalai, a Fellow of the AIAA, also served on the National Academy of Science's "Aeronautics-2000" study.

Among the awards Szalai has received are NASA's Exceptional Service Medal, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, and the Presidential Meritorious and Distinguished Rank awards.

Szalai was born June 1, 1942, in Milwaukee, Wisc., where he graduated from West Division High School.

NASA Photo by: Brent Wood

Keywords: Dryden Center Directors Images Dryden Center Directors; Kenneth J. Szalai; NASA Hugh L. Dryden Flight Research Center; University of Wisconsin; University of Southern California; F-8; Digital Fly-By-Wire; F-111; AFTI F-16; F-16XL; Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology; F-15; Digital Electronic Engine Control; Highly Integrated Digital Electronic Control; X-29; X-31; Space Shuttle Orbiter; Pathfinder; SR-71; MD-11; Propulsion Controlled Aircraft; X-33; X-38

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