Melissa Tate becomes first female McKinley Climatic Laboratory site director

  • Published
  • By Deidre Moon
  • AEDC Public Affairs

Melissa Tate, who has served as the lead engineer and deputy of the Propulsion Test Branch, Test Division, Arnold Engineering Development Complex, since April 2019, will take on a new role as McKinley Climatic Laboratory site director at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, beginning next month.

The competitive appointment as the MCL site director reflects not only an achievement for Tate’s career, but also a milestone for AEDC. She will be the first female director in the 75-years that MCL has been conducting climatic testing for the Department of Defense.

As site director of the MCL, an AEDC facility, Tate will oversee climatic testing of various military and commercial systems within the facility. Five test chambers are used to prove the operational reliability of systems under test in the climatic extremes found around the world. The five test chambers are: the Main Chamber, which is the largest chamber at approximately 252 feet wide, 260 feet deep and 70 feet high; the Equipment Test Chamber, a smaller version of the Main Chamber; the Sun, Wind, Rain, and Dust Chamber; the Salt Fog Chamber; and the Altitude Chamber.

Tate said she is excited “to help McKinley in supporting the National Defense Strategy, as well as testing for commercial entities and the joint services.”

In her role as deputy for the Propulsion Test Branch at Arnold Air Force Base, the headquarters of AEDC, Tate has assisted the branch chief and functions as backup on all leadership matters for over 350 team members. She has provided oversight of the test cells and facilities valued at more than $5 billion recapitalization, as well as the propulsion and climactic testing valued at approximately $40 million annually.

“As deputy, I supervise personnel who function as the test engineers and test analysts across our mission area,” Tate said.

Tate said that the experience gained in the deputy position will help her succeed in the new role.

“Everything I have done in this job, and my previous jobs, will apply to the director role in one way or another,” she said. “It combines aspects of all the different jobs.”

She said what she is looking forward to most at MCL are “all the new challenges and working with the team and their mission.”

“Plus, we get to make snow, which is something we don’t do here (at Arnold),” Tate said.

In all her excitement, Tate added that she will not soon forget Arnold Air Force Base.

“The people, all my friends and connections and work family that I’ve made over the years, that’s what I’ll miss most,” she said.