ESSSA’s Robin Osborne Wins AIAA 2016 Engineer of the Year

Honored for Work on Spark Torch Ignition Systems
and Building a Low-Cost Ignition Test Facility 


February 2, 2016 – Reston, Va. – Robin Osborne, an AIAA Senior Member, and a senior mechanical engineer in the Combustion Devices Design and Development Branch, in the Engineering Directorate of ERC, Inc./Jacobs-ESSSA Group, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Huntsville, Alabama, has won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) 2016 Engineer of the Year award. Osborne will receive the award at a recognition luncheon on July 27 at the Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah, in conjunction with the AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum and Exposition 2016, July 25 – 27.

The award honors Osborne “for increasing the aerospace industry’s understanding of spark torch ignition systems and building a low-cost ignition test facility.”

“Engineers across the United States support the design, fabrication, and testing of NASA’s liquid rocket engines,” said Osborne. “The work each of us does is only a small piece of the puzzle, yet each piece is critical. I’m incredibly honored and humbled to receive the AIAA Engineer of the Year Award for the work I’ve done related to the design, test, and troubleshooting of ignition systems for both the J-2X engine and future builds of the RS-25 engine.” Osborne added, “I also appreciate all the talented, dedicated engineers and technicians I’ve had the great fortune to work with at different steps along the way.”

“The AIAA Greater Huntsville Section is very pleased that, for the second year in a row, one of our members has been selected as the AIAA Engineer of the Year,” said Kurt Polzin, section chair. “With the depth of talent in our Section, we have made it a priority in recent years to generate nominations for various national AIAA awards. We were happy to support Ms. Osborne’s very deserving Engineer of the Year nomination for her work on spark torch ignition systems and the benefits that this engineering achievement can bring in terms of low-cost combustion ignition testing. I want to personally congratulate Robin on receiving this award and acknowledge and thank Charles (Chip) Kopicz for nominating Robin for the award.”

Osborne, as the lead component engineer for the Augmented Spark Igniter (ASI) component was responsible for proposing, planning, and executing the ASI component and integrated subsystem development test program from the start of the engine development program through the testing of the component, a process that spanned several years. As part of the testing regime, Osborne identified a source for a liquid hydrogen dewar that reduced the cost of the proposed test program by $1 million, while simultaneously creating a new testing ability for MSFC. Additionally, Osborne’s rigorous testing methods allowed several solutions to problems that arose in testing to be quickly developed, including creating a smaller oxidizer orifice for the ASI in the engine system – a savings of time and expense in the testing process. Osborne’s work in the testing program reduced testing costs, sped up solution formulation, and saved MSCF over $2.1 million in total expenditures for the testing program.

Osborne’s other honors include a 2015 NASA Space Flight Awareness Silver Snoopy Award; a 2014 NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal; and a 2014 NASA Group Achievement Honor Award for J-2X Testing

The AIAA Engineer of the Year Award recognizes a member of AIAA who, as a practicing engineer, has made a recent, individual contribution in the application of scientific and mathematical principles leading to a significant technical accomplishment.

For more information about the AIAA Engineer of the Year Award, or the AIAA Honors and Awards program, please contact Carol Stewart at carols@aiaa.org or 703.264.7538.

About AIAA

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