cuaengineer ong>Engineeringong> Alum Inducted into National Academy ong>ofong> Sciences Mario Acuna, Ph.D. Catholic University engineering alumnus Mario Acuna has been fascinated by space and the stars ever since his undergraduate years in his native Argentina. That fascination led him to a career in space research and, most recently, induction into the prestigious National Academy ong>ofong> Sciences. Acuna left Argentina in 1967, frustrated by military intervention into university research laboratories, and came to Washington, D.C. He chose the nation’s capital largely for the area’s space research opportunities. He then enrolled as a graduate student in CUA’s then Space Science program ong>ofong> the ong>Schoolong> ong>ofong> ong>Engineeringong>, attracted by the department’s NASA graduate study program and the work ong>ofong> faculty members C. C. Chang and Y. C. Whang. He received his Ph.D. from the ong>Schoolong> ong>ofong> ong>Engineeringong> in 1974. “Another important element in that decision was the recognition by CUA ong>ofong> graduate work completed in Argentina,” Acuna says. He began working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in 1969 and focused on planetary exploration, including magnetic fields and plasmas. “The discovery ong>ofong> the Jovian ring and the magnetic fields ong>ofong> Mars stand out as major achievements,” says Acuna ong>ofong> his research. He is now a senior astrophysicist and project scientist with the International Solar Terrestrial Physics Program at NASA Goddard. At the moment, he is working on several missions, including Juno, a mission to Jupiter to understand the origins ong>ofong> this planet; Messenger, a mission to Mercury to understand the origin ong>ofong> its magnetic field; and Stereo, a mission to study the sun and space weather in multiple dimensions. “Most ong>ofong> this research is associated with experimental magnetic field studies, including the development ong>ofong> specialized instruments for these missions,” Acuna says. The instruments he has developed include ion mass and electron spectrometers to measure the properties ong>ofong> the ambient space plasma. “Having [these] instruments visit almost all the planets and objects in the solar system and carry out fundamental discoveries makes me feel extremely privileged to contribute to our knowledge ong>ofong> the solar system,” he says. Acuna’s contributions to the scientific community led to his selection to the NAS in 2007. Established in 1863 by Abraham Lincoln, the NAS is a private organizationong>ofong> scientists and engineers that act as ong>ofong>ficial advisers to the federal government in science or technology. “It was an unexpected honor,” Acuna says. “This kind ong>ofong> recognition by your peers is incredibly rewarding and puts the research carried out for the last 40 years in a special perspective.” NASA Administrator Inaugurates Alumni Wall ong>ofong> Fame Faced with an abundance ong>ofong> accomplished alumni, the ong>Schoolong> ong>ofong> ong>Engineeringong> has instituted the Wall ong>ofong> Fame, which honors alumni who have reached the pinnacle ong>ofong> their careers. Michael Griffin, Ph.D., M.S.E. 1974, administrator ong>ofong> NASA, first to be so honored, was named to the wall on April 12, 2008. Members ong>ofong> the ong>Schoolong> ong>ofong> ong>Engineeringong> Executive Committee and current external member Marion Gosney, B.A. 1975, director ong>ofong> alumni relations, selected Griffin. Nominees for the Wall ong>ofong> Fame are evaluated by members ong>ofong> the Selection Committee, comprising faculty and alumni ong>ofong> the ong>Schoolong> ong>ofong> ong>Engineeringong>, with finalists presented to the dean, who makes the final decision. The nominees must be recognized nationally as excelling and at the top ong>ofong> their careers, e.g., president ong>ofong> a university as an educator, or CEO ong>ofong> a major company as an engineer, or head ong>ofong> a government agency as a government employee. In addition to having his or her name inscribed on the Wall ong>ofong> Fame, each honoree receives a commemorative plaque. The wall is to be installed in the Alumni Garden outside Pangborn Hall. Griffin received a Master ong>ofong> Science in ong>Engineeringong> degree in aerospace science in 1974. In March 2005, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the administrator ong>ofong> NASA. Prior to that appointment, 8 | cuaengineer Dr. Michael Griffin, NASA Administrator Griffin served as chief engineer at NASA, deputy for technology at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, and later as CEO ong>ofong> Magellan Systems, Inc. He has worked in the field ong>ofong> space exploration and research for many years and was called “a superb choice to lead NASA at this critical moment,” Griffin is known for his “bold leadership style, deep passion for space and rigorous commitment,” as well as for his extensive experience in the field ong>ofong> space exploration and research. Griffin has been an adjunct prong>ofong>essor ong>ofong> spacecraft design, applied mathematics and aeronautics at the University ong>ofong> Maryland, Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University. He has published numerous technical papers in aerospace science and is the author ong>ofong> the textbook Space Vehicle Design — widely considered an essential text in the field. Introducing Griffin, junior mechanical engineering major Kalin Petersen said, “You are an inspiring example and we are proud to have you as an esteemed Catholic University alumnus and to congratulate you on being the first-ever inductee into the ong>Schoolong> ong>ofong> ong>Engineeringong> Wall ong>ofong> Fame.” In his acceptance speech, Griffin expressed joy at receiving this recognition from his alma mater and pride in being a “true” engineer.
cuaengineer ong>Schoolong> Establishes First Executive Development Board Assembling a broad spectrum ong>ofong> talent across many disciplines, the ong>Schoolong> ong>ofong> ong>Engineeringong> has established a volunteer board to assist Dean Charles C. Nguyen in strategic planning and alumni outreach. The Executive Development Board held two on-campus meetings and several conference calls during the last academic year. “We have recruited an exemplary group ong>ofong> alumni to help the ong>Schoolong> ong>ofong> ong>Engineeringong> at this critical stage,” said Dean Nguyen. “By all measures, the school is experiencing a great deal ong>ofong> success. The board will play a key role in helping us sustain that momentum.” “The ong>Schoolong> ong>ofong> ong>Engineeringong> is poised to move to the next level,” said Board Chairman Matthew J. Burns, B.E.E. 1980. “Dean Nguyen has recruited outstanding faculty who are winning prestigious grants from the National Science Foundation and other funding agencies. Applications and enrollment are up. We are implementing a five-year strategic plan. And, more and more alumni are supporting the school. This is a good time to get involved,” he said. Every board member made a charitable gift to the ong>Schoolong> ong>ofong> ong>Engineeringong> during the 2007–2008 academic year. In order to provide continuity and experience, they serve a two-year term with the option to renew for an additional two-year term. 2008–2009 Executive Development Board Chair Matthew J. Burns, P.E. (B.E.E. 1980) President Burns ong>Engineeringong>, Inc. Philadelphia, Pa. Joseph L. Carlini (B.M.E. 1984) Founder and CEO McKean Defense Group, LLC Philadelphia, Pa. Trevor A. D’Souza (B.S.E. 1987) Managing Director/Partner Mason Wells Venture Capital Milwaukee, Wis. John R. Heisse, Esq. (B.C.E. 1976) Partner and Chair, Construction and Government Contracts Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP San Francisco, Calif. Thomas E. Laux (B.S.E. ’76, M.M.E. 1979) Program Executive Officer Air ASW, Assault and Special Mission Programs U.S. Naval Air Systems Command Patuxent River, Md. Brien F. Morgan (B.E.E. 1987) Managing Partner Detente Group McLean, Va. Mark A. Peacock (B.Chem.E. 1983) Principal Archstone Consulting Chicago, Ill. Vincent N. Sica (B.M.E. 1983) Vice President, Special Programs Lockheed Martin Fairfax, Va. Barbara C. Wagner (B.S.Arch. 1980) Senior Vice President Clark Construction Group – California, LP Costa Mesa, Calif. For more information, contact: Seated (from left): Thomas Laux, Brien Morgan, Dean Nguyen, Matthew Burns. Standing (from right): John Heisse, Barbara Wagner, Vincent Sica. Mark Roberts Director ong>ofong> Development ong>Schoolong> ong>ofong> ong>Engineeringong> firstname.lastname@example.org fall2008 | 9