The History of NASA Ames
"Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of NASA: The Giants on Whose Shoulders We Stood"
Why explore? Among the many reasons, we explore because it fuels a useful scientific and technological foundation that enables a flourishing economy. Taking humans to the edge of their known world both requires new technology, and returns radical new insights into the world. Without exploration, science and engineering became routine and uninteresting. The NASA Ames Research Center, which is nearly 70 years old, has contributed scientific and engineering expertise to the exploration missions at the heart of NASA over its 50 year history. Ames has made major contributions to the manned and unmanned space programs, including Mercury, Gemini and Apollo, the Space Shuttle, aeronautics, lunar science, planetary exploration, Mars, and the prospects of life in the universe. Ames' most significant contribution to science and technology, though, has been in developing the careers of masterful researchers. This presentation will emphasize the aerospace giants who fundamentally shaped the history of NASA Ames.
Presented by John W. Boyd:
John W. Boyd serves as Senior Advisor to the Center Director, the Senior Advisor for History and the Center Ombuds.
Jack maintains his Virginia lilt. He is a graduate of George Washington High School in Danville, Virginia; of the aeronautical engineering program at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech); and the Sloan executive master of business administration program at Stanford University. Jack started at Ames in 1947, when it was the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory and still part of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). He first worked in Building N207, elbow to elbow with some of the greatest aerodynamicists of his generation. His own work as an aeronautical research engineer involved wind tunnel studies of supersonic and subsonic aircraft and included major contributions to theories of conical camber. He later did early research on the design of unpiloted planetary probes to explore Mars and Venus, and he helped develop early configurations for the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules.
Beginning in the mid-1960s, Jack increasingly served in managerial positions at NASA Ames. He served as Executive Assistant to the Ames Center Director, Deputy Director of Dryden Flight Research Center, Deputy and Associate Director of Ames Research Center and Associate Administrator for Management at NASA Headquarters. Additionally, he has served as Chancellor for Research for the University of Texas System. He has also been an adjunct professor at the University of Texas (Austin, El Paso, and Pan American campuses), teaching courses in aerodynamics, introductions to engineering, and the history of spaceflight. He is also a member of the Hertz Foundation Board of Directors founded by Dr. Edward Teller.
Jack has earned many awards, including the Stanford Sloan Fellowship, the NASA Exceptional Service Award, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Award, the NASA Equal Employment Opportunity Medal, the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Command Medal and the NASA Headquarters History Award. He is also a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).
Following his eight years in the University of Texas System, Jack returned to Ames to establish its Aerospace Encounter, an educational program for middle school students. In 2003 Jack retired from the Ames Director's Office to two full-time jobs, both of which are essentially educational in nature. As Center Ombuds, Jack hears privately about problems and tries to illuminate how the problem can be solved within the Ames culture. As Senior Advisor for History, he continues to lecture frequently about the culture of Ames and how its leadership has evolved to fit the needs of the time. In addition, he has his own research and writing projects and ensures that the work of the Ames History Office continues to explore how the Center's past is relevant to its future. He returned to the Director's Office as Senior Advisor in February 2006.
Jack is married to Winifred G. Boyd, and has five children and nine grandchildren.
The Silicon Valley History Series is hosted by Boris Debic
Google Tech Talk
April 9, 2009