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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    CONTACT: John Blacksten



    Walter Vincenti Wins 2016 Guggenheim Medal

    Recognizes Research and Contributions to Supersonic Wind Tunnel Research, Gas Dynamics, and
     History of Technology


    February 16, 2017 – Reston, Va. – Walter G. Vincenti, AIAA Fellow, and professor emeritus of aeronautics and astronautics, Stanford University, Stanford, California, has won the 2016 AIAA/ASME/SAE/AHS Daniel Guggenheim Medal. Vincenti received the medal at a February 24th ceremony among his colleagues at Stanford University.

    The award honors Vincenti’s “seminal pioneering supersonic wind tunnel research, education in high temperature gas dynamics, and exceptional contributions to the history of engineering technology.”

    “Walter G. Vincenti’s contributions in the fields of supersonic swept wing theory and high temperature gas dynamics have ensured that aerospace science and technology will always evolve, constantly pushing out the boundaries of the known,” said Sandy Magnus, AIAA executive director. “His work in preserving the history of technology and his establishment of Stanford’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society will ensure that the aerospace community will always have a touchstone to its past and a better way of understanding how advancements in our community impact the world at large. AIAA thanks Professor Vincenti for his over 70 years of service to our community and salutes him for all he has done to shape the future of aerospace, our understanding of its past, and its impact on our present.”

    Vincenti joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA) Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, Moffett Field, California, in 1940, as an aeronautical research scientist. While at Ames, Vincenti ran the facility’s first supersonic wind tunnel, experimenting with supersonic swept wings and producing the first substantive experimental data on that wing type in the United States. In 1957, Vincenti left NACA and joined the faculty at Stanford University as a full professor with tenure. At Stanford, Vincenti teamed up with Nicholas Hoff to restart the school’s Department of Aeronautics. He also became known for his research and teaching in the field of high temperature gas dynamics, writing the book “Introduction to Physical Gas Dynamics” in 1965. In 1971, Vincenti established Stanford’s Program in Values, Technology and Society – now known as the Program in Science, Technology, and Society – chairing it until 1995. During his leadership of the program, Vincenti pioneered new research in the history of technology, becoming a recognized scholar in the field. In 1990, he authored the book “What Engineers Know and How they Know It,” a historical reflection on engineering practices in U.S. aeronautics from 1908 to 1953.

    Vincenti’s past honors include the 1948 Pi Tau Sigma Gold Medal and a 1956 Nelson A. Rockefeller Center Rockefeller Public Service Award. The National Academy of Engineering elected Vincenti to membership, and he is a corresponding member of the International Academy of Astronautics.

    Established in 1929 the Daniel Guggenheim Medal honors people who have made notable achievements in the advancement of aeronautics. Jointly sponsored by AIAA, ASME, SAE, and AHS, past recipients of the medal are some of the greatest names in aerospace, including Holt Ashley, Lawrence Bell, William Boeing, James Doolittle, Donald Douglas, Charles Stark Draper, Hugh Dryden, Robert Goddard, Jerome Hunsaker, Theodore von Kármán, Charles Lindbergh, Glen Martin, Frank Robinson, Burt Rutan and Igor Sikorsky, among many others.

    For more information about the AIAA/ASME/SAE/AHS Guggenheim Medal, or the AIAA Honors and Awards program, please contact Carol Stewart at or 703.264.7538.


    About AIAA
    AIAA is the world’s largest aerospace professional society, serving a diverse range of more than 30,000 individual members from 88 countries, and nearly 100 corporate members. AIAA members help make the world safer, more connected, more accessible, and more prosperous. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.



    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    12700 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 200, Reston, VA 20191-5807
    Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551