Virginia Tech Professor Joseph Schetz was recently awarded the 2019 Dryden Lecture in Research sponsored by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is the first from Virginia Tech to be awarded the distinguished lectureship since its inception in 1960.   

Schetz, the Fred. D. Durham Endowed Chair in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, presented "Truss-Braced Wing Designs for High-Speed Transport Aircraft" in early January in conjunction with the 2019 AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition in San Diego, California.

In his presentation, Schetz narrated NASA scientist Werner Pfenninger's vision that a large, commercial, transonic truss-braced wing aircraft might soon become a reality as Boeing completes its current study on building and flying a truss-braced aircraft under NASA's X-Plane program. The aircraft is one of the four X-Plane aircraft studied to evaluate future technologies to reduce fuel-consumption, noise, and NOX emissions.

The story of transonic truss-braced aircraft is one of visionaries like Pfenninger and Dennis Bushnell, who relentlessly seek out ideas and technologies that will help maintain U.S. leadership in aerospace and allied fields.

As a university researcher, Schetz helped lead the early research efforts to bring that vision to reality. The story of transonic truss-braced aircraft is a story of what can be accomplished when academia, industry, and the government work together.   

The distinguished Dryden Lectureship in Research was named in honor of Hugh L. Dryden in 1967. The lectureship works to emphasize the importance of basic and applied research to the advancement in aeronautics and astronautics and is a salute to research scientists and engineers.

Schetz started his professional career at General Applied Science Lab in New York in 1961 performing innovative analyses and experiments on the then new concept of supersonic combustion ramjets. In 1964, Schetz joined the faculty of the University of Maryland as an associate professor. In the same year, he began work as a consultant for the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University. While at the University of Maryland and Applied Physics Lab at Hopkins, Schetz made many important contributions to high-speed aerodynamics and combustion.

Schetz's research interests cover all aspects of aircraft aerodynamics and design and experimental and theoretical fluid dynamics, with a particular emphasis on high-speed flows and propulsion.

Schetz joined the  Virginia Tech community in 1969 as head of the aerospace engineering department, a position he held for 24 years until 1993. Under Schetz’s leadership,  the department saw a rapid expansion and a new emphasis on research and graduate study. He also led the addition of ocean engineering to the program.

Written By Jama Green

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