New Air Force chief scientist has local tie

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Professor Werner J.A. Dahm has been named the new Chief Scientist of the Air Force. He will begin his post at the Pentagon in October, replacing Dr. Mark Lewis. Coincidence has it that Dr. Dahm has a special connection to Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC).

As a research engineer from 1979 to 1981, Dr. Dahm, worked in the Propulsion Wind Tunnel's 4-foot transonic analysis branch, first as a graduate from University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) working on his masters and then as a full-time employee of Arnold Research Organization (ARO), the operating contractor at that time. He later worked for Calspan when they took over the contract.

"It was a great experience," he said. "AEDC is one of the best places that a young aerospace engineer can work. The experience I gained at AEDC has always stayed with me and gave me a perspective few in the academic research community have.

 I look forward to supporting Secretary Michael Donley and General Norton Schwartz and the Air Staff in making sure the Air Force gets the most it can from its investments. The unique capabilities of AEDC will be an important part of this."

Most of his work at AEDC dealt with high-incidence missile aerodynamics, especially the AMRAAM missile, where AEDC was providing analytical support to wind tunnel tests and computational simulations.

He also worked with adaptive wall wind tunnel development, where AEDC was developing instrumentation techniques for control surface measurements. He supervised a series of test of this instrumentation in the 1-foot supersonic tunnel, and was involved in tests in 4T as well.

"In all of these projects, it was great to bring together the analytical work we were doing with the 'real world' environment of wind tunnel testing and data analysis."
As Chief Scientist, Dr. Dahm will be the principal science and technology adviser to the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

The chief scientist provides assessments to the Air Force leadership on a wide range of scientific and technical issues that affect the Air Force mission. He is a member of the executive committee of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and works in coordination with the Air Force Research Laboratories and the nation's industrial and university research communities to address issues relevant to the Air Force.

"As chief scientist I will be looking for ways to help AEDC ensure that its facilities and other capabilities can be used to maximize their impact on the operational capabilities of the Air Force," he explained. "Another thing I want to do is to help bring the Air Force research and development community and its operational community closer together.

"Doing so will help the science and technology community better identify where they can have operational impacts that may have gone unnoticed and also help the operational community become more aware of what science and technology can potentially do for them."

Dr. Dahm admits this is a uniquely exciting time to serve as chief scientist due developments in the Air Force over the past year.

"The Air Force is facing some tremendous challenges and helping bring the science and technology perspective into some of the pending decisions is an enormous opportunity and is very important for the Air Force," he commented. "The Air Force is asked to do an enormous range of things and to be prepared for a set of possible future conflicts that spans a far broader range than ever before. The mission has never been harder."

According to Dr. Dahm, science and technology will need to play a very important role in the next decade, probably more so than ever.

"The Air Force is undeniably the most dependent of all the services on technology to accomplish its mission," he explained. "Helping the Air Force get the most out of its research and development investments is really what the job of chief scientist is all about."

In his 23 years as a faculty member at Michigan, Dr. Dahm has been involved with the Air Force's research programs, in addition to working with NASA and other partner organizations that are closely relevant to the Air Force mission.

He feels that this, together with his experience serving on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, his work with the Defense Science Board and his academic research and AEDC experiences, has given him a tremendous perspective across the Air Force and a great respect for the organization.

"In the end, a scientist is someone whose job it is to figure out how seemingly complex things work and explain them in ways that are understandable to others, that they can determine which of those should be put to productive use," he said.

"So, whether you are working on shock-boundary layer interactions or trying to address the global war on terror, the particular problems may be different but the focus on the scientific approach is the same."

Dr. Dahm is currently on a leave of absence from his position as Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, and Head of the Laboratory for Turbulence & Combustion (LTC) at Michigan. His primary research and teaching focus has been in fluid dynamics, turbulent flows, combustion and propulsion.

Dr. Dahm has 30 years experience in science and technology, including defense science. He received a doctoral degree from Caltech in 1985 and his masters and undergraduate degrees respectively from the UTSI and the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

He is the author of more than 180 technical publications and has give more than 220 technical presentations worldwide, including more than 100 invited and plenary lectures.