Trio of Researchers Win 2017 AIAA International Cooperation Award Written 22 March 2017

John Blacksten

Melissa B. Rivers, NASA; John C. Vassberg, The Boeing Company; Richard A. Wahls, NASA

March 22, 2017 – Reston, Va. – Melissa B. Rivers, research aerospace engineer, Research Directorate, NASA Langley Research Center; John C. Vassberg, Boeing Technical Fellow, and technical lead, BCA Advanced Concepts/Design Center, The Boeing Company; and Richard A. Wahls, strategic technical advisor, Advanced Air Vehicles Program, NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, have won the 2017 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) International Cooperation Award. They will receive the award at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala on May 3 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Washington, D.C.

The award honors their “vision, leadership, and implementation of the NASA Common Research Model (CRM) advancing United States and international aeronautical research collaboration on industry-relevant challenges in open forums.”

The trio developed the NASA CRM to meet the international aerospace community’s need for a modern, industry-relevant research model that could accommodate open and public geometries, process advanced experimental data, including data for high quality computational fluid dynamics validation studies, and serve as an international standard reference wind tunnel testing model that enables comparisons between facilities. Wahls developed the program’s goals and characteristics of the transport configuration that became the NASA CRM. Vassberg worked on the detailed aerodynamic design of the configuration, especially the geometry in the model that was critical to its success. Rivers actualized the concept with wind tunnel tests and also established a NASA CRM website that is available to users of the model. Aerospace agencies from France, Germany and Japan have used the NASA CRM, as have researchers from around the world who are continually working on areas of additional research and development for the model as they continue to refine it.

The AIAA International Cooperation Award recognizes an individual, or individuals, who have made significant contributions to the initiation, organization, implementation and/or management of activities with significant United States involvement that includes extensive international cooperative activities in space, aeronautics or both.

For more information about the AIAA International Cooperation Award, or the AIAA Honors and Awards program, please contact Patricia Carr at or 703.264.7538.

About AIAA 
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 85 countries, and 95 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information,, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.


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