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The University of Alabama

Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame to Hold 2012 Ceremony

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.—The State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame will induct five individuals and honor a corporation and two projects Feb. 18 during a ceremony at the Westin Hotel in Huntsville.

The following individuals will join the 145 who have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame: Charles E. “Buddy” Davis, who grew up in Mobile but now lives in Laguna Niguel, Calif.; Col. James M. Kelly, of Houston, Texas; Garry M. Lyles, of Madison; C. Wendell Mead, of Arab, and Gerald W. Smith, of Huntsville.

Alabama native Charles E. “Buddy” Davis is known for his pioneering efforts on the Apollo spacecraft, shuttle and space stations programs and also for his $4 million leadership gift to Auburn University’s College of Engineering.The donation is the third largest individual gift in the history of the College and will help pave the way for future generations.

In 2007, Auburn’s aerospace engineering building was named the Charles E. Davis Aerospace Engineering Hall in his honor. Davis earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Auburn in 1959 and a master’s degree from UCLA in 1963.

Davis began his career with Douglas Aircraft, known today as Boeing Corp. His first field assignment was at Vandenberg Air Force Base launching Thor rockets. After President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to send a man to the moon, Davis’ work on the Apollo program was one of the most amazing periods in his life.

He was instrumental in the program’s initial design efforts, contributing to a method for assembling and moving the Apollo rocket to the launch pad. Similar facilities, the massive Vertical Assembly Building and the Crawler, remained in use for transporting the space shuttle. In 1969, Davis was an integral member of the launch team for Apollo 11, helping send the first man to the moon.

Working on the Apollo program for 12 years, Davis also designed the fire control system for static firing the third stage and made the decisions regarding rocket firings. From 1964-1965, he manned the fire control panel and manually test-fired the Apollo third stage 100 times.

Between 1965 and 1969, he was director for his company, sitting at the test conductor console and making “go-no go” decisions for another 500 firings in an altitude chamber.

After Apollo, Davis was a designer on the Harpoon Missile, the KC-10 aircraft aerial refueling tanker, the Mast-Mounted sight for Scout helicopters and the shuttle and space station programs. He was also a designer of the Delta rocket, developed from the earlier Thor ICBM booster that launched 70 percent of all commercial satellites.

Although Davis is known as a pioneer in the design, testing and launch of large rockets, he is equally familiar with the corporate boardroom. As an engineer, Davis can take programs and jobs with major challenges and turn them around.

As a child, Colonel James M. Kelly dreamt of flight. Whether he was an instructor pilot, evaluator pilot, mission commander or an astronaut, Kelly’s dreams became a reality.  He has a proven track record, logging more than 3,800 hours in more than 35 different aircraft.

Kelly received a bachelor’s degree in astronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1986.  In 1994, Kelly graduated from Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base. He continued his education to receive a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from The University of Alabama in 1996.

In 1987, Kelly was designated an Air Force pilot reporting to Luke Air Force Base to begin initial F-15 Eagle training. After completing training, he was assigned to the 67th Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base in Japan.  During his tour in Japan, he was designated an instructor pilot, evaluator pilot and mission commander. In 1992, Kelly was reassigned to Otis Air National Guard Base, where he continued flying the F-15 as an instructor and mission commander.

Later, Kelly was selected for Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base. After graduation, he was assigned to the Air Force Flight Test Center detachment at Nellis Air Force Base, where he was a project test pilot and assistant operations officer. During his time at Nellis, Kelly was selected for the astronaut program.  More than 2,400 people applied for NASA’s 1996 astronaut class, and he was one of 35 members and one of 10 pilots selected.

In 2001, Kelly successfully piloted the eighth shuttle mission to visit the International Space Station aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery, making him The University of Alabama’s first astronaut. Kelly then piloted the improved Discovery on NASA’s Return to Flight Mission in 2005.

Kelly has received NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal, two Space Flight Medals, the U.S. Air Force Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, two Commendation medals, two Outstanding Unit Awards, two Combat Readiness Medals, the Liethen-Title Award for the Outstanding Graduate of the Air Force Test Pilot School and The University of Alabama Distinguished Engineering Fellow Award.

With more than 35 years of technical experience in space propulsion and system engineering, University of Alabama Distinguished Engineering Fellow Garry M. Lyles is considered a top expert in his field. Lyles was recently named the chief engineer for the new Space Launch System that will carry humans and cargo on future exploration missions.

An Alabama native, Lyles graduated from UA with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1975, making him the first in his family to graduate from college. After graduation, Lyles joined the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville and spent the first nine years of his career as a propulsion systems analyst.

Following the Space Shuttle Challenger accident, Lyles served as part of the investigation team, and afterward Lyles moved to Utah to work directly with the contractor design engineers as the NASA lead engineer for the internal motor thermal redesign for which he was awarded the NASA Medal for Exceptional Engineering Achievement.

In 1989, Lyles returned to Marshall as branch chief of engine systems, and then he accepted positions as deputy division chief and division chief. He received the NASA Medal for Exceptional Service in 1991.

Lyles was named the NASA resident manager of the Canoga Park, Calif., facility in 1993, and two years later, he was named the acting chief engineer of the space shuttle main engine project. From 1996-2002, he led the program team that developed the strategy for future launch systems for which he was awarded the rank of Meritorious Executive.

In 2002, Lyles was chosen to manage the propulsion office of the second generation of reusable launch vehicles. Later, he accepted the position of chief engineer of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington D.C. in 2005. He received the rank of Meritorious Executive again in 2005. In 2007, he returned to Marshall as the engineering associate director for technical management.

Lyles received NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2009 for his key role in advancing NASA’s space exploration mission, developing the new space transportation architecture that led to the Ares I rocket.

Charles Wendell Mead’s ability to find solutions to complex missile defense problems, his high standards of excellence and his natural curiosity have contributed to significant advances in our nation’s defense programs, making him a pioneer in ballistic missile defense. One of his major career accomplishments was the development of proprietary ballistic missile defense simulation software, BMD TRADES, a program proven to accurately run and analyze complex, real-world missile defense systems and threat engagement scenarios.

Growing up on a small cotton farm in Blountsville, Mead was the first in his family to graduate from high school and the first to attend college. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Auburn University in 1963. After graduation, he accepted a position with NASA’s Propulsion and Vehicle Engineering Laboratory at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. NASA awarded him a scholarship, which afforded him the opportunity to earn his master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Auburn University in 1966.

In 1968, Mead joined the U.S. Army Advanced Ballistic Missile Defense Agency. In 1977, the Army selected him to head a pivotal study on the feasibility of missile-to-missile defense. This study began his relentless pursuit of a simulation model that could assimilate data to create a wide variety of end-to-end ballistic missile defense scenarios and strategies. He made substantial contributions to historical technology development programs. While working for the Army, Mead was nominated for the prestigious Sloan Fellows Program, and he earned a master’s of management from Stanford University in 1979.

After spending more than a decade leading SRS Technologies in Huntsville, Mead established AGRI, Inc. in 1990.  As chief executive officer and chief technical director of the company, he produced the Ballistic Missile Defense Technical Requirements Assessment & Design Evaluation Simulation. BMD TRADES, his greatest and most influential engineering contribution, is used for design and test of current and future BMD systems against realistic potential threat scenarios.

He received the Distinguished Auburn Engineer Award in 2010.

Throughout his distinguished career of more than 40 years, Gerald W. Smith has demonstrated the highest ethical standards, outstanding technical management ability and a rare talent for motivating a team in the face of unprecedented challenge.

The award winning engineer has received NASA’s Distinguished Executive Presidential Rank, Distinguished Public Service Award, Exceptional Achievement Medal, Exceptional Service Medal, Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank, Outstanding Leadership Award and Silver Snoopy Award. He also received the U.S. Army Commendation Medal and Auburn University’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Smith earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from Auburn University in 1961 and 1971.  He continued his education to receive a master’s degree in administrative science from The University of Alabama at Huntsville in 1977. He also completed Harvard Business School’s advanced management program in 1993.

Following his service at the U.S. Army Electronics Proving Ground, Smith accepted a position as aerospace engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in 1963.

Later, he joined General Electric as test and evaluation engineer in the company’s large jet engine department. In 1967, Smith returned to Marshall as aerospace engineer, designing and analyzing vehicle attitude propulsion systems. He was soon promoted to project engineer and within a few short years, he was named the subsystem manager for the space shuttle solid rocket booster.

Smith continued to advance at Marshall, serving as assistant chief engineer, branch chief and deputy project manager. In 1984, Smith was named deputy associate director for engineering, sharing responsibility for planning and directing engineering support for all projects in the hardware development stage. He was then named chief of engine programs at NASA headquarters.

Following the Space Shuttle Challenger accident in 1986, Smith returned to Marshall, leading efforts to design, build, quality and fly the redesigned solid rocket motor. As a result, the nation’s confidence in the space program was restored with the successful flight of Space Shuttle Discovery. Based on this stellar performance, Smith was appointed to deputy director of Stennis Space Flight Center, the federal government’s largest rocket-engine test facility, in 1989. Smith remained with Stennis until his retirement in 1995.

The following corporation will join the 28 corporations or institutions already inducted into the Hall of Fame:

The International Fertilizer Development Center has been a center of excellence addressing international food security, the alleviation of global hunger and poverty, environmental protection and the promotion of economic development for more than 36 years. IFDC focuses on increasing productivity across the agricultural value chain in developing countries through the creation and transfer of effective and environmentally sound crop nutrient technology and agribusiness expertise.

Based in Muscle Shoals, IFDC is a public international organization, governed by an international board of directors with representation from developed and developing countries. The nonprofit center, with more than 700 employees, is supported by various bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, private foundations and national governments. The center was established in 1974 in response to global food and energy crises.

IFDC’s collaborative partnerships combine cutting-edge research and development with on-site training and education, helping enrich and sustain the lives of people around the world. The organization has conducted more than 700 formal workshops, study tours and training programs. Field demonstrations and training have assisted millions of farmers in developing countries.

Through its projects, IFDC has provided sustainable advancements. Incomes of participating farmers and other project beneficiaries rose dramatically, and parity in economic and social benefits has been established. Children are able to attend school for the first time, bank accounts are being opened for the first time and farmers are able to acquire basic necessities, new tools and additional land to cultivate.

Currently, IFDC is working on projects in 35 countries. To date, the organization has provided assistance in nearly 100 countries.

The following projects will join the 34 projects already inducted into the Hall of Fame:

The Davidson Center for Space Exploration at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville was designed to preserve and celebrate the restored Saturn V rocket, one of the greatest technological accomplishments of the 20th century.  The magnificent building design guides visitors through the history of the Saturn V and Alabama’s incredible role in the space program. The facility opened Jan. 31, 2008, the 50th anniversary of the launch of America’s first satellite, Explorer 1.

The facility’s main attraction is the 476-feet-long display hall that houses one of the three remaining Saturn V rockets, the vehicle that took man to the moon. The rocket is a Smithsonian Institute artifact and was engineered in the 1960s at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. It is the most powerful liquid fuel rocket in history.

The geometrically-formed architectural elements of this 70,000-square-feet building are used to represent gravitational pull and space travel. The design allows visitors to travel in a continuous motion as in space and massive glass panels allow travelers on Interstate 565 to get a striking view of the display hall as they pass.

The $22 million facility is named after Julian Davidson, an Auburn University graduate who spearheaded the Army’s ballistic missile defense program and founded Davidson Technologies. His contributions to the ballistic missile defense program are considered among the most significant technological achievements in our nation’s history.

The Davidson Center serves as the front door for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s 500,000 annual visitors. Future plans for the facility include the construction of a $2 million spacewalk and a $2.6 million tram system connecting the Space & Rocket Center to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens, the Redstone Arsenal and other city attractions. NASA points to this impressive facility as the first stage to better showcase its contributions to historical, current and future space exploration.

A $300 million project, the Mobile Container Terminal at Choctaw Point, is a state-of-the-art U.S. Gulf coast gateway providing terminal customers with a cost-effective alternative shipping route to Midwest markets, as well as Alabama and neighboring states. The 135-acre marine terminal has immediate access to Interstates 10 and 65, and is 130 miles from the open ocean.

The marine terminal will be supported by a 70-acre logistics park and an 80-acre Garrows Bend Intermodal Container Transfer Facility. The ICTF will be accessible to the Alabama State Port Authority’s Terminal Railway and five Class 1 railroads.

In 2010, MCT handled 130,000, 20-feet equivalent units of cargo, and traffic increased by 40 percent in 2011. Phase I equipment investments include two ZPMC container cranes, five Linde reach stackers, two empty handlers, forklifts and support equipment. A 45-feet deep channel and 2,000 feet of deep-water berth ensures the terminal is able to handle most vessels.

Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s second-largest containerized shipping company, began calling on Mobile this year.The MSC line is the first container ship to directly connect Mobile to Altamera and Veracruz in Mexico. The MSC vessel is the fifth ocean carrier to offer fixed weekly service into Mobile. Other fixed-week calls include two from global leader Maersk, one from CMA CGM call and two from Zim Integrated Shipping Services.

The Choctaw Point complex is the centerpiece of the Alabama State Port Authority’s long-term, multi-year strategic development plan for the Port of Mobile. MCT is a joint venture between Alabama State Port authority and APM Terminals, a division of A.P. Moller-Maersk.

Founded in 1987 by proclamation of the governor, the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame honors, preserves and perpetuates the outstanding accomplishments and contributions of individuals, projects and corporations/institutions that brought and continue to bring significant recognition to the state.

The Hall of Fame is overseen by engineering colleges and schools at Auburn University, Alabama A&M University, The University of Alabama, Tuskegee University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama in Huntsville and University of South Alabama. It is administratively managed through the UA College of Engineering.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.