NASA's Langley Research Center Directors Talk About Time at Center Written 10 January 2017
Panelists: Moderator James R. Hansen, professor of history and director of The University Honors College, Auburn University; Dave Bowles, director, NASA's Langley Research Center; Roy Bridges, former director, Langley; Jeremiah Creedon, former director, Langley; Delma Freeman, former director, Langley; Steve Jurczyk, former director, Langley; Lesa Roe, former director, Langley
by Hannah Godofsky, AIAA Communications
Past directors of NASA's Langley Research Center reflected on their time at the center Jan. 9 during the 2017 AIAA SciTech Forum in Grapevine, Texas.
AIAA commemorated 100 years of Langley with the "NASA Langley Centennial—A Storied Legacy, A Soaring Future" panel, which featured directors from 1996 to present day.
Jeremiah Creedon, Langley's director from 1996 to 2002, spoke positively of the work he contributed.
"I can only wish for everyone in this audience, each and every one of you, that you could feel the same sense of pride that I felt working at NASA Langley," he said.
Creedon also praised Langley for its meritocratic operating methods.
"I found it to be a very egalitarian organization," he said. "It didn't matter what you looked like or what you spoke like ... it just mattered what you could do."
Del Freeman, Langley's director from 2002 to 2003, praised the work ethic of the center's engineers and scientists.
"I was taught the job is never finished until you've got all the data, you've analyzed the data, and you've answered all the questions," he said. "What has really made Langley over the years is the people. People given the opportunity and the challenges have produced some very significant things there."
Others emphasized that aerospace can be an exciting career.
"What I'm going to tell you about my career all stemmed from just wanting to get off the dairy farm in northeast Georgia," said Roy Bridges, Langley's director from 2003 to 2005. "I was looking for a way that might have a little excitement in it."
Lesa Roe, Langley's director from 2005 to 2014, presided over an era of budget cuts and was put into the position of reorganizing a much leaner Langley.
"We've really reinvigorated the center with what we've done," she said. "It's smaller — it will be about 40 percent smaller than it was, but it will be much stronger than it was. And it's all about the value that NASA Langley brings to the nation and its core competencies."
Roe also praised the workforce at Langley.
"The thing that kept me there the whole nine years is just an incredible team of folks," she said. "We just have a great team ... Focusing on the challenges of flight is the core."
Steve Jurczyk, Langley's director from 2014 to 2015, has worked at NASA for 29 years. He said he appreciated the experience and echoed the praises of the workforce.
"Some of the things I value about Langley are really things I treasure about my own career," he said. "I just really valued [the] hands-on experience. Also, the mentors I had on every project were just incredible. There is just such a culture of mentoring and paying it forward."
Dave Bowles, Langley's current director, has worked at the center for 37 years and summed it all up by saying, "One of the great things about Langley: You can do different things, and you're really given opportunities to stretch."