Press Release

Professor James Gregory, Ph.D. to Receive the 2020 Brewer Trophy

By SpaceRef Editor
September 30, 2020
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The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) is pleased to announce that Professor James Gregory, Ph.D. has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Frank G. Brewer Trophy.  The trophy was established in 1943 to honor “… significant contributions of enduring value to aerospace education in the United States.”  Past recipients of the Brewer Trophy include: John and Martha King, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, Barrington Irving, the Civil Air Patrol, the Ninety-Nines, and the 2019 recipient, AOPA’s You Can Fly Program. 


Professor Gregory is being recognized for “… his enduring contributions and leadership in engaging the public and students in the science of flight through video series, innovative laboratory experiences, and world-record-setting testing of unmanned aerial vehicles.” 


Serving as a professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Ohio State University, Professor Gregory has inspired his students through his classroom-flipping approach, in which instructional content is introduced outside of the classroom and in-class time is repurposed for inquiry, application, and assessment to better meet the needs of individual learners.  He has developed a number of innovative student design projects and labs, including an international collaboration for aerial detection of buried landmines, a high-altitude balloon launch, analysis of US Airways 1549 flight recorder data, glider design/build/fly, and airfoil design/build/test using rapid prototyping.  In 2017, Professor Gregory led a team of researchers and students to push the boundaries of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology and set a world record certified by the NAA and the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale for speed and distance for an autonomous drone.  Professor Gregory is routinely innovating to design meaningful educational experience for his students and future aerospace workforce.   


Under his leadership as director of the Ohio State University Aerospace Research Center from November 2017 to May 2020, Professor Gregory has promoted interdisciplinary research collaborations and a meaningful partnership with the University Airport to benefit student education and training.  Professor Gregory’s research has been funded by more than $10 million from industry and government since 2008, and has resulted in more than 100 publications.  He is the principal investigator (PI) for Ohio State as a core member of the ASSURE FAA Center of Excellence on Integrating UAVs in the National Airspace System, and also the lead PI for the Ohio Department of Transportation’s $6 million Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management (UTM) system. 


Professor Gregory has recently produced a valuable public video series titled The Science of Flight, in collaboration with The Great Courses® and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum.  Aimed at providing aviation education for a wide-ranging audience through an engineer’s approach to understanding flight and clarifying common misconceptions, this contribution is one of a kind.  With 24 half-hour video lectures and an accompanying digital guidebook, the course has sold over 14,000 copies, with an additional 25,000 hours of online streaming since its release in June 2017.  Professor Gregory’s next contribution to aviation education will be the publication of a book, Introduction to Flight Testing, in 2021. 


Professor Gregory continues to skillfully bridge the gap between education and practice for the benefit of his students and society.  His excellence in doing so continues a long tradition of leadership from his post at the Ohio State University, which is known for its mark on aviation as the birthplace of flight pioneers.  


“The Brewer Trophy has, for decades, recognized and encouraged the best ideas that use aviation to educate future generations,” stated NAA President, Greg Principato.  “Professor Gregory is certainly a great college professor, but has gone well beyond those duties to broaden the net and get young people involved in design challenges, record attempts, and so many other innovative ways to use aviation to educate and learn.  He is a most worthy successor to the many great individuals and organizations to have received the award.” 


“I’m deeply grateful and humbled to be selected for the NAA’s Brewer Trophy,” expressed Professor Gregory.  “It’s especially gratifying to recognize that prior winners of the Brewer Trophy – including the NASA Spacelink Team (2000) and Professor John Anderson (2017) – were a tremendous inspiration in my own aerospace education.  It’s an honor to ‘pay it forward’ for the next generation in aerospace and aviation!” 


Serving on the 2020 Brewer Trophy selection committee were: Frank Brewer, the Brewer Family; Robert Brewer, the Brewer Family; Thomas Haines, representing the 2019 Brewer Trophy recipient, AOPA’s You Can Fly Program; Deborah Gallaway, 2004 Brewer Trophy recipient; Mark Ofsthun, Honda Aircraft Company and NAA Board of Directors; and Donald Thomas, 2018 Brewer Trophy recipient. 


The Brewer Trophy will be presented on a date and location to be determined.  For more information or to view a complete list of previous recipients, please visit  



The National Aeronautic Association is a non-profit membership organization devoted to fostering opportunities to participate fully in aviation activities and to promoting public understanding of the importance of aviation and space flight to the United States. NAA is the caretaker of some of the most important aviation awards in the world and certifies all aviation records set in the United States.  For information, visit  

SpaceRef staff editor.