Momentum Member Spotlight – March 2013
AIAA Congratulates Dr. Allen E. Fuhs, AIAA Honorary Fellow
By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications
The AIAA Member Spotlight for the month of March, 2013, shines on Dr. Allen E. Fuhs, AIAA Honorary Fellow, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Naval Postgraduate School (NPS), Monterey, CA. Fuhs has been an AIAA member since 1956.
Fuhs has had multiple leadership positions within the Institute, including serving as President of AIAA from 1986 to 1987, Vice President of Publications from 1979 to 1981, and editor of the Progress Series from 1998 to 2001. In recognition of his dedication to the Institute and for his many contributions to the field of astronautics, Fuhs was made an AIAA Honorary Fellow in 2013.
Among Fuhs' other accomplishments were serving as Chief Scientist at the U.S. Air Force Aero Propulsion Lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; chairing the Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering Departments at the NPS; and forming the NPS’ Space Systems Academic Group, designing its curriculum from scratch. After retiring from NPS in 1987, Fuhs went on to be the Chief Scientist for Orbital Sciences Corporation. Additionally, Fuhs was a member of President George H.W. Bush’s Space Policy Advisory Board for the National Space Council from 1989 to 1993.
In addition to being an AIAA Honorary Fellow, Fuhs is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, and the British Interplanetary Society. In 1990, he was received the U.S. Navy Distinguished Civilian Award for his work at NPS. He was elected into the New Mexico Museum of Space History’s International Space Hall of Fame in 1992.
When asked what inspired him to enter aerospace as a profession, Fuhs replied: "At the University of New Mexico in the 1950’s the College of Engineering did not have an Aero Option. However, they did teach some Aero courses which I took as an elective. I liked the courses. As for his earliest influence, Fuhs discussed his Naval career, noting: I learned to fly at taxpayer’s expense in a U.S. Navy SNJ “Texan” training aircraft, that was painted bright yellow. After my career in the Naval Reserves, I was accepted at CalTech. My advisor told me that Aero was so volatile that I should earn my PhD in Mechanical Engineering (ME), so, I majored in ME and became a “rocket scientist”. After graduation I went to work in the Aerospace industry and was never unemployed from 1958 until I retired. At CalTech I had the good fortune to study with Professor von Kármán. I may be one of the very few surviving students of his."
When asked about his career, and his favorite career moment, Fuhs centered on the time he served as AIAA’s President, reminiscing: “Certainly being elected President of AIAA ranks high on the list. The year that I served as President, the theme was “The Year of the Member.”
When asked about the future of aerospace, Fuhs stated: “This is really two questions. One question is the aero-part. The very short 5 years after World War II were dramatic years with the introduction of jet propulsion, the swept wing, etc. Since then, the changes have been almost incremental. New technology is introduced at a slow pace. You look at the first jet liners of 40 years ago and today’s brand new aircraft and only an aero engineer can spot the minor differences. The question also involves the space-part. Satellites have proven their worth many times over in regard to weather, communications, GPS, earth observation, etc. Support for new satellites needs to be steady. Exploration of space is driven somewhat by the answer “Are we all alone in the universe?” Detection of life in the solar system will capture everyone’s imagination. However, a signal from another planet will have lasting impact on humans. In regard to Mars, robots can do so much more.”
When asked what advice he would have for students who are in college and seeking to enter the aerospace profession, Fuhs stated: “Mastery of the fundamentals of engineering and physics will prepare you for a long and interesting career. Enrichment courses give you the fire-in-the-belly!” For those young people who are in high school and thinking about majoring in aerospace sciences in college, Fuhs advised: “When you are in high school, the world is wide open, and you have many options. Pursue a profession that you find interesting. You will have many Mondays when you will go to work; select a career where you are happy to see Monday morning roll around.”
Fuhs ended our interview discussing the importance of AIAA to the aerospace professional. He maintained: “One aspect is the technical information available through AIAA. Equally important is the opportunity to meet other engineers with similar interests. Also, when your AIAA Section is seeking volunteers, raise your hand. You will be rewarded for each hour you give to AIAA activities. I was.”
AIAA congratulates Dr. Fuhs on his selection as the AIAA Spotlight Member Spotlight for March 2013, and thanks him for his years of outstanding service to the Institute!