San Antonio — Mar. 7, 2017 — Dr. Ben Thacker, director of the Materials Engineering Department in Southwest Research Institute’s (SwRI) Mechanical Engineering Division, has been selected to the Class of 2017 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Fellows. Thacker and 20 others will be inducted in a ceremony at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala, to be held May 3 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.
AIAA confers the distinction of Fellow upon individuals in recognition of their notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences, or technology of aeronautics and astronautics. Thacker was cited “for exceptional leadership and technical contributions in probabilistic analysis, uncertainty quantification, and model validation, and for longstanding service to AIAA.”
“This is a very prestigious honor for Southwest Research Institute,” said Danny Deffenbaugh, vice president of the Mechanical Engineering Division. “Ben has been instrumental in furthering our research activities in probabilistic mechanics and uncertainty quantification. We are proud of his accomplishments in obtaining the position of Fellow in AIAA.”
Thacker, who joined the SwRI staff in 1988, specializes in developing and implementing advanced probabilistic methods and model verification and validation methodologies for computational solid mechanics. For NASA’s Space Shuttle return-to-flight effort, he led the development of a probabilistic debris transport model and software tool for predicting the probability of critical damage to the orbiter’s leading edge and tile.
He also was a key contributor to NASA’s Probabilistic Structural Analysis Methods (PSAM) for Select Propulsion System Components program, a nine-year effort that led to the development of NESSUS®. This probabilistic analysis software is used today by both government and industry to predict a diverse range of problems in aerospace structures, automotive structures, gas turbine engines, nuclear waste packaging, offshore structures, and pipelines, among others.
At SwRI, he leads a staff of more than 70 involved in a variety of programs related to materials engineering including materials development and characterization, failure analysis, surface engineering, musculoskeletal biomechanics, life assessment and prediction, probabilistic mechanics, corrosion, and mechanical testing.
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