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AEDC Fellow Dr. Marion L. Laster’s contributions to the aerospace testing remembered

Dr. Marion L. Laster (U.S. Air Force photo)

Dr. Marion L. Laster (U.S. Air Force photo)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- AEDC Fellow Dr. Marion Lynn Laster will be remembered for his contributions to Arnold Engineering Development Complex following his passing on June 14 at the age of 85.

Throughout a career that spanned 40 years, Laster was credited with playing a significant role in the development of test facilities and technology that has helped AEDC remain at the forefront of the aerospace research field. He received the honor of being selected as an AEDC Fellow in 1991. The AEDC Fellows program, established in 1989, recognizes AEDC personnel who have made substantial and exceptionally distinguished technical contributions to the nation’s aerospace ground testing capability.

In 1956, the same year he earned his Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from Auburn University, Laster began his career as an officer in the U.S. Air Force as an aeronautical engineer at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. He later began work as a research assistant in the Aeronautical Engineering Department at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Laster began his AEDC career in 1957, first working as a test project engineer. In the early 1960s, he accepted an aerospace research engineer position with the Air Force at AEDC, eventually moving into a role as a civil service employee.

Over the course of his AEDC career, Laster held the titles of project manager, technical advisor, technical director, director of test engineering, director of technology and deputy director of corporate planning. As a technical advisor, director and technical director of AEDC technology programs, he promoted and directed numerous technical advances in testing technology.

Laster was an Air Force project officer for the design of the AEDC Propulsion Wind Tunnel dryer, the completion of the PWT 16-foot supersonic wind tunnel and for the Aerodynamic and Propulsion Test Unit design criteria for initial construction.

As a propulsion specialist, Laster was involved in the development of facility diffusers for testing rockets, hypersonic ramjets and jet turbine engines in the Rocket/Engine Test Facility in the 1960s and 1970s.

Laster earned his Master of Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee. He authored and co-authored nearly three dozen technical papers and reports throughout his career. He retired in 1997.

As part of the AEDC 60th anniversary celebration in 2011, Laster wrote an article titled “My years at AEDC.” This article was a firsthand account of what led Laster to pursue a career at AEDC and provided details on his efforts at the Complex.

“I have enjoyed my career at AEDC immensely,” Laster wrote. “I believe the AEDC mission is one of the most important elements of this country’s defense.”

Laster was a resident of Tullahoma.