(October 5, 2020) AIAA Member Spotlight on Douglas Yazell

Douglas Yazell
AIAA Associate Fellow

Honeywell-Retired; Teacher, Math & Robotics, Texas City High School
Mr. Yazell worked for Honeywell aerospace engineering from 1981 to 2011, mostly on NASA projects. He earned a BSEE degree from the University of South Florida in Tampa and a Master of Science in Engineering from the University of California, Irvine, south of the Los Angeles area. The latter was mostly from the mechanical engineering department, with work in robotics, control systems, and equations of motion. He worked in Clearwater Florida 1981-1983, the Los Angeles area 1983-1992, and in the NASA/JSC community after 1992. Since 2016 he is a Teacher in public high schools with two teaching certificates, Math and Technology Education, including a year of teaching Robotics.

Mr. Yazell worked as a newspaper carrier and city recreation center leader, among other jobs, before starting to study electrical engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa. He was leaving the small city of St. Petersburg on the other side of Tampa Bay where he lived with his parents and an older brother since starting high school there in 10th grade 14 years earlier. His good reputation with the city recreation center work led to a student intern job with Honeywell in Clearwater Florida with the space shuttle entry flight control team. Upon graduation (BSEE), he represented Honeywell at the historic Rockwell International site in Downey California in the Los Angeles area. Five years later he continued to represent Honeywell at the McDonnell Douglas site in Huntington Beach, California. A brand new 8-story building was the site for the McDonnell Douglas Space Station Freedom team. As for becoming an AIAA Associate Fellow, he volunteered to be of service to the profession in various roles starting in 1998 in AIAA Houston Section in the NASA/JSC community. As for becoming a member of the Aerospace America editorial board for about 8 years with Editors Elaine Camhi and Ben Ionnatta, he was recommended by an AIAA leader because of his work as Editor of Horizons, the newsletter of AIAA Houston Section. The prior Editor, Jon Berndt, did an amazing job with thousands of downloads per issue (sometimes tens of thousands). Mr. Yazell enjoyed keeping up that tradition from 2011 to 2014, including the use of Microsoft Publisher (for layout editing), and later, Adobe InDesign. Mr. Yazell added climate change science, engineering, and public policy to Horizons since 2013 once PBS called it to his attention with the October 23, 2012 episode, Climate of Doubt. After seeing that hour of investigative journalism, the subject was on his radar for the first time, and he knew he could trust NASA, NOAA, national science academies, scientific professional societies, and the reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In 2014, Ian Haney-López convinced Mr. Yazell that race was the most important problem in the USA, as Professor Haney-López was doing a book publicity tour for this 2014 book, “Dog Whistle Politics.” The author was a guest on the PBS show Moyers & Company. Mr. Yazell is now a member of the AIAA Diversity & Inclusion Working Group (DWG), led by Jandria Alexander. As for co-founding the since-2007 France-USA sister sections with AIAA Houston Section and 3AF-MP (www.3af-mp.fr), a Chinese sister section in Shanghai was popular with AIAA Houston Section since 1987. Its founder asked Mr. Yazell to continue that tradition, but Mr. Yazell lived in France aged 4-6 (1957-1959), studied French in high school, and married a French woman in 1985, so Mr. Yazell suggested that French tradition starting in 2004.

As for writing the successful nomination report for one of the AIAA Historic Aerospace Sites, the 1940 Air Terminal Museum near the “right field” runways in Hobby Airport is a gem. The late airline Captain AJ High probably wrote most of that information for the museum website (https://www.1940airterminal.org/). The air terminal building was created using the “Art Deco” style. Ironically, the day of the award ceremony, when AIAA awarded the large bronze plaque to the museum, a rainstorm caused flash flooding all day long, and human-induced climate change makes every rainfall worse when air is warmer. Coincidentally, the museum work led Mr. Yazell to learn that the first aviator in Texas was French pilot Louis Paulhan, who performed in a 1910 Texas airshow.

(June 15, 2020) AIAA Member Spotlight on Matthew Kuhns

Matthew Kuhns
Chief Engineer, Masten Space Systems, Inc.
I am a kid who never grew out of wanting to be an astronaut. Once I discovered you could build spaceships in addition to flying them, I was hooked. My father helped by teaching me about the planets and getting me a telescope when I was 10.
In high school my drafting teacher Mr Bartman taught me a lot of the fundamentals of engineering. He came from the SR-71 program and we were all suitably impressed. He provided me with a solid pencil and paper drafting and CAD foundation which let me get my first engineering job in college.
Education: University of Wisconsin – Madison, Engineering Mechanics 2008. Prof. Elder, Prof. Crone, and Prof. Lakes were a huge influence on helping me understand what it takes to be a good engineer.
Graduating in 2008 felt like the worst time to try to find a job in space, so I went into the aircraft industry.

  • PCC Airfoils – SMP Plant, Wickliffe, OH. SMP manufactures single crystal turbine blades and combustor components for jet engines.
  • General Atomics ASI, Adelanto, CA. Propulsion R&D for the Predator C Avenger & PWC 545BM jet engine.
  • Eaton Aerospace, Irvine, CA. Mechanical & Electrical lead for an interdisciplinary Advanced Technology team.

Masten gave me a chance to make the jump to space in 2015, and it has been a wild ride. Lots of testing, lots of rocket firings, and lots of amazing people. I started as a subsystem lead on Xephyr, Masten’s reusable VTVL small sat launcher for the DARPA XS-1 program.
The last few years have been so great for innovation and opportunities in the space industry, and I hope we can all weather the Covid-19 storm together. With so many launch vehicles available now, and more soon to be available, it’s really going to infuse the space economy with extra energy. Particularly in cis-lunar space, extremely optimistic that we as industry can find a way to develop a sustainable economy which can help drive a permanent lunar presence.
My current job with Masten is amazing, we work on building and flying rockets and now we are going to the moon. Working closely with NASA and their extremely skilled engineers is a continual source of inspiration. The projects we are working on will be able to increase performance and lower cost of propulsion and spacecraft hardware across the industry.

  • Chief Engineer, XL-1 Lunar Lander, NASA CLPS/Artemis
  • PI MOWS for Surviving the Lunar Night, NASA SBIR Phase I and II
  • PI PermiAM Transpiration Cooled Rocket Engines, NASA SBIR Phase I and II
  • PI Rocket Plume Deep Cratering Physics, NASA SBIR Phase I, II, and III
  • PI 25k Broadsword Tipping Point, NASA Tipping Point Program
  • NIAC Fellow: FAST Landing Pads for Artemis, NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Program
  • PI Artemis E-Pump Technology Demonstration Program, NASA
  • PI E-Pump Development for Landers, NASA MSFC CAN


  • High Wing Fuel Compensation System (Eaton) USPTO 62/233,660
  • Magnetically Aligned Fuel Valve (Eaton) USPTO US20170708121A1
  • Fluid System with Differential Pressure Control (Eaton) USPTO US62/442,624
  • Method for Predicting Sunset Vibrancy (Skyfire) USPTO 62/097,001
  • PermiAM: Porous AM Material for Rockets (Masten) USPTO US16/372,401

I also enjoy photographing rocket launches, both at Masten and at KSC/Vandenberg! My space photography has been published by Aviation Week, Spaceflight Insider, NASA, Spacenews, Planetary Society, and Microsoft. My broader work has been published in a few books and publications like National Geographic, have had shows in several LA area galleries.

Matthew Kuhns
For fun, Ice Sat II launch at Vandenberg
One of my landscape images

(May 11, 2020) AIAA Member Spotlight on Mr. Steve Isakowitz

(May 11, 2020) AIAA Member Spotlight on Mr. Steve Isakowitz

Mr. Steve Isakowitz

Mr. Steve Isakowitz
AIAA Fellow
President and CEOThe Aerospace Corporation
Steve Isakowitz is President and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, where he leads a team of about 4,000 employees committed to solving the hardest problems in space. Aerospace is a national nonprofit corporation that operates a federally funded research and development center addressing complex problems across the space enterprise focused on agility, innovation, and objective technical leadership.
Over the course of his more than 30-year career, Isakowitz has served in prominent roles across the government, private, space, and technology sectors, including at NASA, U.S. Department of Energy, and the White House Office of Management and Budget. Prior to joining Aerospace, he was President of Virgin Galactic, where his responsibilities included the development of privately funded launch systems, advanced technologies, and other new space applications.
His work has been widely recognized and awarded, including the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal and the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award. He also co-authored the AIAA’s International Reference Guide to Space Launch Systems, which received the Summerfield Book Award in 2003.
Isakowitz’s passion for space was formed at an early age as he watched the Apollo 11 astronauts walk on the moon. The film 2001: A Space Odyssey further inspired a vision of space that was accessible to all, where anyone would have the chance to travel through space.
While his dreams of starting a space company after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were stifled by the high-cost launch environment of the 1980s, he later found his way back to space entrepreneurship through his various roles at the leading edge of innovation and technology.
At Aerospace, Isakowitz is helping shape the future during what he describes as “the most exciting time in space… ever.” He sits at the nexus of defense, civil and commercial space enterprises, overseeing efforts to outpace threats to the country’s national security while nurturing the technologies needed to further a new era of space commercialization and exploration.

(May 4, 2020) AIAA Member Spotlight on James R. French

(May 4, 2020) AIAA Member Spotlight on James R. French

James R. French

James R. French
AIAA Fellow(60+ year member of AIAA !)
President, JRF Aerospace Consulting LLC
James R French graduated from MIT in 1958 with a degree of BSME Specializing in Propulsion. While at MIT, Mr French became the Founding President of the MIT Chapter of The American Rocket Society, an AIAA predecessor. In the ensuing years he has pursued additional education both in technical subjects and management. 
Upon graduation, he accepted a job with Rocketdyne Div. of North American Aviation and during a 5 year employment, worked on developmental testing of H-1 engines and combustion devices hardware for F-1 and J-2 engines used in Saturn 5. He was also involved in various experimental programs. Moving on to TRW Systems, Mr. French was Lead Development Test Engineer on the Lunar Module Descent Engine and was responsible for bringing on-line the High Altitude Test Stand use for all-up LMDE testing at TRW’s Capistrano Test Site. He also was involved in experimental testing of exotic propellants.
After leaving TRW as propulsion work ran down, Mr. French joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he worked on testing and launch vehicle integration for Mariners 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9; Viking 1 & 2 and Voyager 1 & 2. Mr. French was Advanced Planetary studies Manager for JPL for several years as well as Chief Engineer for the SP-100 Space Nuclear Power System. He was Chief Engineer of a RTG powered Mars Rover study for a vehicle essentially identical to Curiosity.
Leaving JPL after 19 years, Mr. French was VP Engineering and Chief Engineer for American Rocket Company developing hybrid rocket launch vehicles.
Since leaving AMROC in 1987, Mr. French has been consultant to a variety of aerospace companies, SDIO, NASA, and USAF. As a consultant to SDIO he functioned as the government’s chief engineer on the DC-X project. He has participated in various startup companies in the private space flight arena and currently consults extensively to Blue Origin, a company in which he has been involved since its beginnings. He has worked with Project Icarus investigating interstellar missions. His current efforts draw primarily upon his extensive experience in rocket propulsion development and operational aspects of launch vehicles.
Mr. French is co-author with Dr. Michael Griffin of the best-selling text Space Vehicle Design, published by AIAA. For over 20 years he taught a 4 day short course, mostly through AIAA, on the same topic. The second edition of the book has received the Summerfield Book Award for 2008. Mr French is also the author of Firing a Rocket, a reminiscence of testing rocket engines for the Apollo missions.
Mr. French is a Fellow of both AIAA and the British Interplanetary Society and a 60+ year member of AIAA. He has held several Technical Committee and other posts in AIAA. In 2018, Mr. French was named Engineer of the Year by the Orange County Section of AIAA.
Here is the inspiration for his going into the aerospace career: (Excerpt from Firing a Rocket written by James French, published by Amazon. Used with permission of the author,)
Long before I ever went to college, I knew that there was only one career for me. I wanted to work on rockets and go into space. That began when, at about 12 years old, I read Robert Heinlein’s Rocketship Galileo. Before that I had read “Flash Gordon”, “Buck Rogers” and other comics but never took it seriously. Once I read that book, a whole new universe opened to me and I knew what I wanted to do. I devoured every science fiction writing I could find with particular emphasis on the “hard” science fiction of Heinlein and Arthur Clarke. I also got into the non-fiction side with Willy Ley’s Rockets and its two sequels Rockets and Missiles and Rockets, Missiles, and Space Travel. Then came Ley and Bonestell’s The Conquest of Space and Clarke’s The Exploration of Space and Interplanetary Flight. I was hooked for life and I have never once regretted the choice. 
Since no one in my family had any college education or any real interest outside home and farm, I was all alone. They all thought I was crazy and referred to me as “Einstein” or “The Absent-Minded Professor”. (Absent-mindedness was definitely valid and has only gotten worse with age.) I really had no idea how to follow my dream except that I knew I needed to go to college. I had no idea where to go but fortunately I could find help. Our neighbor, family doctor, and good friend, Dr. Walter Watkins, had been born and raised in Amarillo just as I was. However, he had joined the Army and ended up getting his MD from Johns Hopkins. He moved back home and rapidly became the top surgeon in the area. He understood where I was coming from and provided me with much sound advice and encouragement. Two of my High School teachers, Miss Wilson for mathematics and my physics teacher whose name now escapes me also helped. This latter lady and I were often at odds but she helped me whenever she could in spite of that. I owe them all a huge debt for helping an eager but ignorant kid.

Member Spotlight on Dr. Daniel P. Raymer (April 13, 2020)

Member Spotlight on Dr. Daniel P. Raymer (April 13, 2020):

AIAA Fellow,
author of “Aircraft Design: A Conceptual Approach”

Dan Raymer is President of the design and consulting company, Conceptual Research Corporation. Recipient of the prestigious AIAA Aircraft Design Award, he is a recognized expert in the areas of Aerospace Vehicle Design and Configuration Layout, Computer-aided Design Methodologies and Design Education. During his 10 years in the Advanced Design Department of Rockwell (North American Aviation) he conceived and did the layout design of Rockwell’s entries in what became the F-22, B-2, and T-45 programs, and was Head of Air Vehicle Design for X-31 from “blank sheet of paper” (CAD screen) to the configuration that flew (with minor fabrication-driven changes).

His industry career includes positions as Director-Advanced Design with Lockheed, Director-Future Missions at the Aerojet Propulsion Research Institute, and Project Manager-Engineering at Rockwell North American Aviation. He also served as a research engineer and aerospace design consultant at the famous RAND Corporation think tank.

Dr. Raymer is the author of the best-selling textbook “Aircraft Design: A Conceptual Approach” and the well-regarded layman’s book, “Dan Raymer’s Simplified Aircraft Design for Homebuilders”. His newest book, “Living In The Future: The Education and Adventures of an Advanced Aircraft Designer”, covers his career and his design projects including most of those described below. Raymer has received both Rockwell Engineer of the Year and the AIAA Summerfield Book awards, and was recently made a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Dr. Raymer teaches a variety of advanced design short courses including the well-known five-day Aircraft Conceptual Design Short Course which has been attended by over 3,000 engineers to date. Dr. Raymer is often a Forum Speaker at the EAA AirVenture (Oshkosh).

Dr. Raymer received B.S. and M.S. engineering degrees in Astronautics and Aeronautics from Purdue, an MBA from the University of Southern California, and a Doctorate of Engineering (Ph.D.) from the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology (KTH). He is a recipient of the Purdue University Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award which is given “to honor those alumni who have distinguished themselves in the aerospace industry”. Dr. Raymer is listed in both Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in Science and Engineering.

Click here for a new article on how Raymer became an aircraft designer and who his inspirations were:



Member Spotlight (Feb. 17, 2020) on Dr. Anita Sengupta

Member Spotlight (Feb. 17, 2020) on Dr. Anita Sengupta:

Dr. Anita Sengupta
Co-Founder at Airspace Experience Technologies (ASX)
Former NASA Engineer
Former Hyperloop Engineer

Dr. Sengupta is an aerospace engineer, rocket scientist, pilot, and veteran of the space program. She worked for NASA for 16 years where her engineering projects included her PhD research on developing the ion propulsion system for the Dawn Mission (currently in the main asteroid belt), the supersonic parachute that landed the Curiosity rover on Mars, and the Cold Atom Laboratory an atomic physics facility now on board the International Space Station.

After leaving NASA she led the development of the hyperloop as senior vice president of engineering systems at Virgin Hyperloop, a technology that can enable ground based travel in excess of airline speed.

Her current venture is Co-Founder at Airspace Experience Technologies (ASX), an electrified autonomous VTOL urban aerial mobility technology company. As an engineering savvy executive and pilot, she is now leading the mobility solutions for smart cities by eliminating congestion and reducing the carbon footprint of air travel.

Dr. Sengupta received her MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California, where she is also a Research Associate Professor of Astronautics and Space Technology specializing in interplanetary entry system and green transportation technology.

In her spare time she is an avid pilot, motorcyclist, scuba diver, snowboarder, hiker, long distance runner, and Sci-Fi fan.

Her childhood inspiration was science fiction, specifically Dr. Who and Star Trek.