November 17, 2017
    New chief executive at aeronautics organization

    Has decades-long, decorated history with NASA


    Daniel L. Dumbacher is the new executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, effective Jan. 4. He succeeds Sandra H. Magnus, PhD, who will step down in April 2018, after leading the Institute for more than five years.

    Dumbacher is a 30-year member and Associate Fellow of the Institute. He has been an engineering practice professor at Purdue. He became a faculty member after retiring from the NASA, where he worked for more than three decades. At NASA, Dumbacher most recently was deputy associate administrator in the Exploration Systems Development Division for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. In that capacity, he provided leadership and management as the program director for exploration systems development encompassing the Space Launch System, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations development and integration efforts. He led a team of more than 5,000 across all NASA centers and industry.

    Earlier he managed the Engineering Directorate at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. The Engineering Directorate supported the Space Shuttle program’s propulsion elements, design and development of Ares launch vehicles, oversight of NASA’s Payload Operations Center, and supported all Marshall Space Flight Center International Space Station and science missions.

    He also was deputy director of the Ares Projects Office and, before that, was deputy director for product assurance in the safety and mission assurance office, focusing on Space Shuttle return-to-flight efforts. Other assignments included manager of the X-37 Flight Demonstrator, deputy manager of the Space Launch Initiative Program, and program manager of the Second Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle Program, among other roles.

    He has earned several NASA honors including the Silver Snoopy Award, NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service. He twice received the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, in 2002 for accomplishments related to NASA’s Space Launch Initiative Program, and in 1997 for his work on the DC-XA Project. Purdue University recognized him with the Outstanding Mechanical Engineer Award in 2003, and with the W.A. Gustafson Teaching Award in 2015.

    Dumbacher earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at Purdue and an MBA at  the University of Alabama. He completed the Senior Managers in Government study program at Harvard.

    Magnus also has a long and decorated NASA history, including as an astronaut.

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