Dr. David Elrod to be honored as an AEDC Fellow

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Two new Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) Fellows will be inducted June 25 at the annual Fellows banquet.

One of the the new Fellows is Dr. David Elrod. Dr. Elrod joins 56 others selected for this honor since the program began in 1989.

Nominated by their peers, Dr. Elrod has been cited for his outstanding leadership and technical excellence in support to and advancement of the center's mission.

Dr. David Elrod

Dr. David Elrod was recognized for his innovative technical and managerial leadership in guiding delivery of the AEDC mission and for earlier cutting-edge space sensor innovations that helped streamline Test & Evaluation (T&E) acquisition.

Dr. Elrod has proved himself to be one of the most capable, innovative technical managers to ever support aerospace ground testing at AEDC.

His groundbreaking technical innovations significantly streamlined the T&E acquisition process. His demonstrated technical, management and people skills led to progressive technical management roles, culminating in his current role as the first general manager to have responsibility for all contractor activities since 1980.

Central to Dr. Elrod's technical management success is his breadth of knowledge of all of AEDC's technical research development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) disciplines and the integration of support required to accomplish activities in each area.

His accomplishments range from design and development of non-intrusive flow diagnostics, electro-optic instrumentation systems, microprocessor design and programming to establishment of a first-of-its-kind facility for the mission simulation testing of space sensors.

His technical management talents produced successes in test project management, facility acquisition program management, team development and management of technology and positive organizational change.

Shortly after joining AEDC in 1979, Dr. Elrod demonstrated a hallmark technical acumen that would enable him to achieve progressive roles of technical management responsibility. From the beginning of his tenure, Dr. Elrod consistently sought ways to implement cutting-edge technologies into T&E activities in order to streamline the T&E acquisition process. For example, as a young research engineer supporting AEDC's Space Chambers, Dr. Elrod brought critical computer expertise to bear by demonstrating the benefits of remote terminals (then a new approach) and by proving the value of distributed computation rather than bulk, centralized calculations to data analysis processes.

Dr. Elrod's demonstrated proficiency led to his selection as part of a team that developed a 10-year roadmap for the AEDC Aerospace Chamber Program in 1985.

 An integral piece of the roadmap was to develop new T&E tools for advanced space sensor creation. In response, Dr. Elrod conceived of an innovative technique to present dynamic infrared scenes to the focal plane array (FPA) technologies being developed for space imaging sensor systems. Recognizing the unprecedented challenges of this task, he hand picked a select team of engineers and scientists who were experts in signal processing, optics, and infrared physics.

The goals of this effort required concept definition, prototyping, demonstration and final design of the Direct Write Scene Generator (DWSG). This innovative DWSG technique used steered infrared laser beams to simulate a complex dynamic scene directly on the surface of the FPA chip used in space sensors for surveillance programs.

Primarily because of his success identifying the need for and then leading the Scene Generator team, Dr. Elrod was named Manager, Scene Generation Test Capability (SGTC) Program Management Office (PMO) in 1989.

Dr. Elrod was the natural candidate to lead this $14.8 million investment program since SGTC was based on the Direct Write Scene Generation concept. He was responsible for planning, advocacy and demonstration and execution of technologies and related test facilities and techniques.

During his management of the SGTC PMO, Dr. Elrod demonstrated critical technical management skills, where he (1) saw the potential of a technical concept; (2) developed a technically capable team to develop that potential; (3) secured the advocacy of contractor and Air Force management; (4) secured funding from outside AEDC; (5) managed the multi-year, multi-million-dollar project; (6) interfaced with customers and government monitors; and (7) and followed the Systems Engineering guidelines for technical reviews.

SGTC was cited by the Office of the Secretary of Defense as "model program," and execution of the program avoided $25 million in facility acquisition expenditures.

SGTC has proven its value on a broad national scale by prompting the sensor community to reevaluate and upgrade its T&E process, a credit to Dr. Elrod's innovative thinking.

Although not used on a specific test program, SGTC introduced the option of exercising a sensor in a ground test environment beyond calibrations and the few limited scene generation techniques that were used in Space
Chamber 7V. SGTC demonstrated that the T&E cycle time could be shortened by moving more operational test and evaluation (OT&E) data points into developmental test & evaluation (DT&E) activities.

Furthermore, at a later point, SGTC could be added as an element for early in-the-cycle hardware-in-the-loop testing. The opportunity to streamline T&E techniques through the use of more complex scene generation ultimately led to funding of Space Sensor Chamber IOV.

Following positions as Director, Effort T Applied Technology and Manager, Applied Technology Program and Department Manager and Facility and Space Technology, Dr. Elrod was identified because of his previous successes, as the right person to serve as the Deputy General Manager for the newly combined testing contracts.

Within six years, he was leading all contractor support activities, making him the first general manager to guide all contractor support since the support contract was split nearly three decades ago.

Due in large part to the technical and technical management innovations from him and others over the previous two decades-plus, Dr. Elrod has successfully led T&E activities that are comparable to the level of activity in 1979, but with half as many people. In addition to the sheer logistics involved in providing total contractor leadership for AEDC, he has led the re-activation of several previously mothballed T&E facilities.

Key to the recent success of accomplishing technical support is Dr. Elrod's leadership in implementing 35 change management initiatives - for which he led identification, definition and crafting - designed to realize mission success through continual improvement, chief among these is the Resource Provisioning Approach to rapidly deploy personnel, tools and materials in response to AEDC enterprise, facility utilization and investments priorities and schedules. Notable achievements are evident by consistent ratings of Very Good or Excellent in all nine T&E evaluation areas.

Also during Dr. Elrod's tenure, the increased emphasis on safety at AEDC has
resulted in exceeding the goal of 200,000 manhours per E-1 incident and represents an order of magnitude improvement in safety performance compared to the AEDC environment prior to the consolidation of support contracts.

Dr. Elrod has led efforts to leverage AEDC's capabilities outside the main gates of Arnold AFB through the integration and continued successful operation of the Navy's Tunnel 9 in White Oak, Md., and through the recent reactivation and current operation of the National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex (NFAC) at NASA Ames Research Center, Calif.

NFAC's mammoth wind tunnels had been mothballed due to NASA budget restraints, but the Air Force believed that, based on mission successes during Dr.

Elrod's tenure, AEDC had the capabilities to make NFAC a viable T&E entity again.

The successful re-activation of the NFAC is a credit to Dr. Elrod's ability to develop and implement a staffing plan to accomplish unforeseen challenges while not sacrificing performance or support elsewhere in the AEDC ground test mission.

Although he has devoted his entire aerospace career to the accomplishment of AEDC's mission, Dr. Elrod's influence on the T&E community outside of AEDC is substantial. He is a distinguished alumnus at his alma maters. He has published prolifically, with articles in the ITEA Journal and the Society of Photo-optical and Instrumentation Engineers.

In 1998, he was awarded the Merritt A. Williamson Award for the best paper at the American Society of Engineering Managers. Dr. Elrod is an active member of the management technical committee for the American Institute of Astronautics and Aeronautics.

Editorial Note:
The AEDC Fellows Program honors individuals who have made substantial and exceptionally distinguished contributions to the nation's aerospace ground testing capability at AEDC. All military, civilian and operating contractor/subcontractor Team AEDC members, presently or once assigned to AEDC, are eligible. Candidates must have personally made sustained, notable, valuable and significant contributions in aerospace ground testing while at AEDC. Inductees are honored annually on a date to coincide with General of the Air Force Henry H. "Hap" Arnold's birthday (June 25th) for whom the award, the test center and the installation are named.