AFMC Command News

Masters earns high honor from aerospace organization

  • Published
  • By Bradley Hicks

A member of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex team is among a group of professionals from around the globe who will soon be formally honored for their contributions to the aerospace field.

Dr. James Masters, a model and simulation engineer at Arnold Air Force Base, the headquarters of AEDC, has been recognized as an American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Associate Fellow. He and others selected for the AIAA Class of 2022 Associate Fellows will be inducted during a ceremony set for early next year.

Masters, who has been at Arnold for the past 18 years, was initially nominated for the competitive fellowship last year after his nominator and fellow aerospace professionals submitted information and letters of recommendation on his behalf.

Masters was not chosen for the recognition at that time and, while admittedly disappointed, he put the nomination out of mind.

However, AIAA Associate Fellow nominations remain open for three years from when they are first submitted, meaning a nominee can be considered and selected for the recognition at any point during that period.

Masters said he received an email “out of the blue” from AIAA in early September informing him that he had been chosen for the recognition.

“I was excited,” Masters said. “Like I said, I kind of forgot about it because it was the year before that I had got put in for it. I just felt like, ‘Oh well, that would have been nice,’ but when I got the call, I was excited. I’ve done a lot of work for AIAA, so it was nice to get recognized.”

According to the AIAA, the world’s largest aerospace technical society with nearly 30,000 individual members from more than 90 countries, the grade of Associate Fellow recognizes individuals “who have accomplished or been in charge of important engineering or scientific work, or who have done original work of outstanding merit, or who have otherwise made outstanding contributions to the arts, sciences, or technology of aeronautics or astronautics.”

For an individual to be selected as an Associate Fellow, he or she must be an AIAA Senior Member in good standing with the organization with at least 12 years of professional experience and must be recommended for the honor by three current AIAA Associate Fellows. Since 2009, Masters has been an AIAA Senior Member, a less-competitive designation open to those with the appropriate number of years in the aerospace profession or those with several years of AIAA membership.

“The AIAA Associate Fellows personify the innovation that drives our industry forward,” AIAA Executive Director Dan Dumbacher stated in a release announcing the Class of 2022 Associate Fellows. “The members of the Class of 2022 Associate Fellows embody the commitment, dedication, and ingenuity that are crucial for devising the best solutions to the complex questions raised across the aerospace community. On behalf of the Institute, we recognize the families, friends, and colleagues who support the Associate Fellows as they contribute in such a meaningful way to the aerospace community.”

Among Masters’ contributions is his involvement in efforts to return to service some of the large wind tunnels in the world, including the main facility at the National-Full Scale Aerodynamics Complex at Moffett Field, California, and the 16-foot supersonic wind tunnel at Arnold AFB. He acted as the principal aerodynamic analyst for the NFAC flow calibration and characterization effort. His analysis of the Aerodynamic and Propulsion Test Unit at Arnold AFB directly impacted the design of facility components, and Masters developed the MeshGrind mesh manipulation toolkit used to accomplish several mesh deformation-related tasks for AEDC.

Masters said one of his proudest technical accomplishments is the practical application of aspects of the dissertation he completed to earn his doctoral degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the real-world setting of AEDC. This work led to the publication of several peer-reviewed articles.

“That’s something that was really nice because, a lot of times, you’ll do a dissertation and then it just kind of sits on a shelf. It was nice to get some practical use out of that,” Masters said.

Masters added he is proud that his efforts bolster interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, fields among children attending schools near Arnold AFB, which was mentioned in his nomination. These efforts include his involvement in the local FIRST® Lego League program and the presentation entitled “Engineering: Exploring and Impacting Your World” that he regularly gives at area schools in which he discusses different types of engineering and some of the work going on at Arnold.

“I really enjoy contributing to the next generation with the STEM,” Masters said.

Dr. Greg Power, model and simulation senior staff engineer at Arnold AFB, works alongside Masters and served as a reference for his AIAA Associate Fellow nomination. He said Masters is extremely deserving of the honor.

“As an Associate Fellow myself, I can say it is a real honor to be recognized by your peers nationally,” Power said. “This is a well-deserved recognition of Jim’s technical excellence and his dedication to the AIAA organization in promoting technical excellence in the aerospace community and promoting engineering to the next generation.”

The individuals chosen for the AIAA Class of 2022 Associate Fellows will be inducted at the AIAA Associate Fellows Induction Ceremony on Jan. 3, 2022, at the 2022 AIAA SciTech Forum in San Diego, California. The event will mark a return to forum for the AIAA, the prior forum was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Masters said he usually attends the conferences to chair sessions and present research, but receiving his recognition in-person will be a welcomed bonus.

“When I didn’t get it, I was a little disappointed, but that was the year everything was virtual,” he said. “Now, it’s kind of nice that this year, when I did get it, I’ll get to go to San Diego.”

Masters also expressed his appreciation for the nomination and recommendations that made his selection as an AIAA Associate Fellow possible.

“It definitely feels good to get recognized for some of your accomplishments,” he said. “Sometimes, you just have your nose to the grindstone for a long time, and it feels good once in a while to have somebody recognizing your accomplishments.

“I hope to pay it forward and be able to nominate some of my colleagues in the future now that I’m an Associate Fellow.”