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AEDC Fellow Dr. Stan Powell remembered for various contributions to the Complex

  • Published
  • By Bradley Hicks

AEDC Fellow Dr. Eldon “Stan” Powell will be remembered for his contributions to Arnold Engineering Development Complex following his passing on Oct. 5 at the age of 72.

Powell is credited for outstanding contributions in leadership, sustained technical excellence and innovative application of thermophysics and computational simulation to ground testing and weapons systems acquisition during his 35-year AEDC career. He was honored as an AEDC Fellow in 2010. The AEDC Fellows program, established in 1989, recognizes AEDC personnel who have made substantial and exceptionally distinguished contributions to the aerospace ground testing capability for the nation.

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Powell began his AEDC career in September 1978 after completing his doctoral degree in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Iowa State University. During his tenure at Arnold, Powell served as an engineering specialist with Aerospace Testing Alliance, a previous operating contractor for AEDC. 

Powell’s work was directly responsible for advancing test capabilities in the von Kármán Gas Dynamics Facility, also known as VKF, the High Enthalpy Ablation Test Facility, the Aerodynamic and Propulsion Test Unit, or APTU, and the Propulsion Wind Tunnels at Arnold Air Force Base, Tennessee, the headquarters of AEDC. Through his technical leadership, Powell found solutions to the inherent problems that arose when trying to measure how sophisticated systems would perform in flight while executing tests in ground test facilities that simulate those flight conditions.

Additionally, Powell, considered one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of thermophysics, completed extensive original research and engineering development which led to the modeling, design and operation of hypersonic test facilities. His contributions include original modeling of combustion processes, modeling of thermodynamic and transport properties of test media, and the assessment of combustion effects on test data with respect to simulation fidelity. His thermophysical developments and modeling capabilities became critical components of hypersonic, aeropropulsion and aerodynamic test processes at AEDC.

Powell was also instrumental in the development of hypersonic test capabilities. These include a transpiration-cooled combustion test facility for missile defense testing.

He performed an engineering analysis that provided the basis for the successful advocacy for funding to develop the Mach 7.0 true temperature test capability for VKF.

Furthermore, Powell developed a heat-transfer model with appropriate thermodynamics to allow for the improved determination of arc pilot conditions from heat transfer probes. As part of this capability, he contributed to upgrading the widely-used WIND-US computational fluid dynamics, or CFD, code for air thermodynamic properties.

Powell teamed with the late Dr. Mike Varner to develop a test database for turbulence modeling in hypersonic flow. This was done to provide “building block” data in a useful format and to develop an analysis technique to extract turbulent flow characteristics. The results enabled calibration of fundamental CFD turbulence model parameters for hypersonic re-entry conditions.

After venturing into the area of heat-transfer modeling, Powell developed the HEATPAK program, a collection of heat-transfer calculation methods on unit problems of importance to test and analysis at AEDC, such as aero-vehicle and facility flows. He also developed the combustion process for the vitiated air heater in APTU.

Powell retired from AEDC in November 2013.

Along with his selection as an AEDC Fellow in 2010, Powell was the recipient of other honors and recognitions throughout his AEDC career, including being named the 2009 recipient of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Ground Test Award for his contributions to ground testing while employed at AEDC.

Powell was a fixture around AEDC-affiliated Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, events aimed at boosting children’s interest in these fields. He assisted in the opening of the Fox Den, a former STEM center at Arnold, and with STEM-related happenings such as the Student Design Competition and FIRST® Lego League.