AEDC White Oak site director receives 2017 AIAA Ground Test Award

: Dan Marren, front, works as part of a test team on the first aero-optical experiment in the Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9, then operated by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, in support of the Strategic Defense Initiative Program in 1984. The innovative test measured precise optical aberrations of target signals presented to interceptor seekers travelling at Mach 10 which enabled the realization of ballistic missile defensive test capabilities used worldwide. Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9, located at the Federal Research Center in White Oak, Maryland, is now operated by AEDC. Marren, who is the director of the AEDC White Oak site was recently selected to receive the 2017 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Ground Testing Technical Committee’s Ground Testing Award. (U.S. Navy photo)

: Dan Marren, front, works as part of a test team on the first aero-optical experiment in the Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9, then operated by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, in support of the Strategic Defense Initiative Program in 1984. The innovative test measured precise optical aberrations of target signals presented to interceptor seekers travelling at Mach 10 which enabled the realization of ballistic missile defensive test capabilities used worldwide. Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9, located at the Federal Research Center in White Oak, Maryland, is now operated by AEDC. Marren, who is the director of the AEDC White Oak site was recently selected to receive the 2017 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Ground Testing Technical Committee’s Ground Testing Award. (U.S. Navy photo)

Dan Marren, director of the Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9, AEDC White Oak, Maryland. (AEDC photo)

Dan Marren, director of the Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9, AEDC White Oak, Maryland. (AEDC photo)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- Dan Marren, director of the Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9, AEDC White Oak site at the Federal Research Center in White Oak, Maryland, has been selected to receive the 2017 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Ground Testing Technical Committee’s Ground Testing Award.

Dan Lewis, Tunnel 9 project engineer, nominated Marren for his innovation, inspiration and leadership in support of the development and application of test capabilities nationwide and the impact on ground test methods and techniques.

Jay Dryer, director of the Advanced Air Vehicles Program Office for NASA, praised Marren for all the assistance he has provided to NASA Aeronautics in the past and still today.

“In 2006, NASA Aeronautics underwent a significant reorganization that included the establishment of the Aeronautics Test Program (ATP),” said Dryer. “Mr. Marren served as one of the principal external experts that NASA relied on to provide an independent assessment of recommendations for this new program that was focused on key ground test capabilities. Since then, Mr. Marren has continued to participate in annual assessments of the program. He had a reputation as one of the most engaging and insightful partners, which is why he was consistently asked to help NASA improve our management of important national ground test capabilities.

”Mr. Marren provided advice that improved how we enhance testing capabilities, collaborated more effectively, and better managed testing assets. Recently, he had helped us better coordinate the research needs of our various research projects with the capabilities provided by the testing community. Therefore, his expert advice has benefited the entire Mission Directorate and extends beyond just the testing capabilities.”

Several others agree Marren has made a great impact in providing mission-ready test capabilities across the test enterprise and that legacy enables continued program success.

“Working with academia and the science and technology community, Marren championed test techniques, validated computational methods and developed new capabilities used each day in the T&E community,” according to the nomination information provided to AIAA. “As a lifelong tester, he has performed numerous test programs, directed test campaigns, managed test assets, developed new test capabilities and led the re-vitalization of the next generation of testers. His passion for test and demonstrated excellence in the science of test have proved invaluable to programs, research organizations and universities.”

Marren is commended for the leadership and expertise he has demonstrated as part of the AIAA. He has served the Ground Test Technical Committee in working groups and standing committees producing several AIAA products, conferences and liaison functions. He also served GTTC in several leadership positions including as chair, from 2000-2002

“Working with several other individuals, he helped set a new standard for technical committees that continues today and has positioned the GTTC as a model for others to follow,” according to the nomination materials. “For the association, he designed and delivered several short courses on ground test, and participated in several standard and recommended practice and progress series text documents, journal articles and conference papers, presentations and panel discussions.

Marren co-edited a popular text on advanced hypersonic test facilities now in its third printing and reaching outside the U.S. to several countries.”

His colleagues concur that Marren has achieved a level of excellence that is as noteworthy as his 32-year testing career. Early on he managed several tests in supersonic and hypersonic facilities at the Naval Surface Warfare Center developing data sets for important development programs, such as the Navy Strategic Systems Programs Office and Missile Defense, and the National Aerospace Plane.

Working directly with the program offices, he assisted in bringing about new capabilities for high-Reynolds number testing, expansion of Mach capability and several niche capabilities that did not exist in the test inventory directly supporting acquisition program requirements.

In addition to these achievements, Marren has performed ground test coordination of program campaigns in multiple facilities across the test enterprise for the U.S. Navy Strategic Systems Programs Office and provided ground test coordination for the Missile Defense Agency, then the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization.

Marren now oversees the Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9, owned by the United States Air Force and operated by AEDC, and here he has developed a critical test asset into a highly-valuable and impactful test capability renowned worldwide with a staff that tackles challenging projects.

He has also helped design and develop a new paradigm for the re-vitalization of the test workforce. He created a pilot program for the Department of Defense built on specific physics-based experiments in world-class test facilities and involved testers, students and researchers in a way that produced valuable testing skill sets and created local subject matter experts.

Nancy Anderson, a senior staff member of the John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, said she is personally grateful to Marren for his support over the years.

“I have known Dan Marren for 20 years, ever since he recruited me to work at Tunnel 9 as a co-op student from the University of Cincinnati, and I can attest to his unwavering innovation, inspiration and leadership in support of the development and application of wind tunnel test capabilities and their impact on ground test methods and techniques over these past 20 years. I felt like I was a part of the beginnings of his initial focus on developing good testers, of which he has consistently and enthusiastically continued his efforts of revitalizations of the next generation of testers.

“Dan was very involved in mentoring me as a co-op student, teaching me about all aspects of wind tunnel testing and the importance of computational methods. He helped develop me into a rigorous test engineer, resulting in me ultimately running many of my own wind tunnel tests at Tunnel 9, including me being a major part of bringing on the Mach 8 high Reynolds number capability. When I moved on from Tunnel 9 to work for Lockheed Martin, his teachings carried through to my leading wind tunnel tests as a facility customer. These skills have robustly supported me throughout my career.”

Dan Lewis echoed that Marren is a great person to work with and mentioned that he has the ability to reach across several organizations and cut through the bureaucratic nature of government testing for the benefit of unassailable data and this has been demonstrated repeatedly.

“His expertise has been continually sought and solicited in many studies, boards and panels to review and set the strategic direction of test,” Lewis wrote in the nomination. “His work resulted in the addition of hundreds of millions of dollars of investment funding in hypersonic test and informed decision makers on the state of our infrastructure.
“Based on these accomplishments, a clearly earned reputation for advancing test and demonstrated commitment to ground test across the aerospace spectrum, I give my strongest endorsement for Marren to be awarded the 2017 AIAA Ground Testing Technical Committee’s Ground Testing Award. His proven record of expertise and service will represent the GTTC in the best light and put forth the caliber of quality candidates worthy of representing the GTTC.”

Past AEDC award recipients of AIAA Ground Testing Technical Committee’s Ground Testing Award include legendary pioneers of aeronautics, so Marren said he is still in disbelief that he would be chosen for such a prestigious honor.

“I was surprised by the announcement,” Marren said. “As a test engineer, and having participated in the selection of this award who’s past recipients include Dr. Frank L. Wattendorf, Bernhard H. Goethert, Dr. John I. Erdos, Mr. Ivan E. Beckwith, Prof. Raymond J. Stalker and others, anyone can certainly understand how I feel completely
undeserving of such an honor.

“This award, to me, represents a significant career achievement. I would be totally remiss if I did not point out that throughout my career I have been blessed with co-workers, collaborators and staff that personify excellence and my best accomplishment might have been that I listened to good ideas along the way. I wanted to personally thank Dan Lewis and the amazing individuals who took time to write generous reference letters on my behalf.”

Marren will travel to Colorado in June to receive the award during the AIAA Aviation Forum.

-AEDC-