Press Release

NASA Dryden Engineer Honored by Mexican-American Engineering Group

By SpaceRef Editor
December 3, 2005
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An aerospace engineer at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center has been named the recipient of the National Society of Mexican American Engineers and Scientists (MAES) top award for 2005.

Robert Navarro, currently project manager for flight experiments on the Altair unmanned aircraft system at NASA Dryden, was honored with the MAES Medalla de Oro (Gold Medallion) Award for outstanding technical contributions and educational outreach to the Hispanic community over the course of his career at the NASA field center, located at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. He was one of three Hispanic engineers who received the honor in November at the black-tie La Medalla do Oro banquet held in connection with the organization’s 31st annual symposium in San Jose, Calif. The event is intended to honor professional members of MAES, industry supporters and representatives of academia for outstanding achievement, technical contribution and service to the Mexican American community.

The Medalla de Oro Award is intended to honor members and supporters of MAES who have distinguished themselves by demonstrating a dedication to service and to humankind that carries with it responsibilities and strict disciplines. It carries with it the challenge for honorees to make the most of their abilities and talents, the responsibility of hard work, and demands self-reliance and self-discipline. It also requires that honorees conduct themselves so that their lives demonstrate the dignity of man.

In addition to the award, a $4,000 scholarship was presented in Navarro’s name to Maria Hernandez, an engineering student at the University of New Mexico. The MAES Padrino / Ahijada (godfather / godchild) scholarship’s pairing of a professional with a student member symbolizes the mentoring relationship of the Hispanic culture in which the Medalla de Oro recipient provides guidance and serves as a role model for the young engineer or scientist.

Navarro has been a member of MAES since he was an engineering student at California State University – Fullerton. He has presented technical papers at their conferences and has also conducted motivational workshops, as well as serving as a keynote speaker at various activities of regional MAES chapters.

After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1989, Navarro joined NASA at the Glenn Research Center in Ohio as a gas and fluids engineer. He worked on a variety of projects, including serving as principal engineer on three thermal and fluids experiments flown on space shuttle missions.

After transferring to NASA Dryden in 1995, Navarro was involved in a number of increasingly responsible engineering roles, serving as principal investigator for a series of experiments on the F/A-18 Systems Research Aircraft and as chief engineer for both that aircraft and the Helios solar-electric flying wing developmental research effort. More recently, he served as project manager for a short series of research flights by the Pathfinder-Plus solar aircraft earlier this year that acquired data to improve existing aeroelastic analytical tools for flexible-structure aircraft. He led the Dryden team that was responsible for range and ground safety and mission success of the test program.

In his present position, Navarro is responsible for management of earth science missions using General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ Altair unmanned aircraft system (UAS). These missions are conducted for various government agencies to validate their scientific instruments or models and/or gather environmental data throughout the world.

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SpaceRef staff editor.