National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Mike Heil

Tuesday evening the Glennterns had the opportunity to listen to Mike Heil from the Ohio Aerospace Institute speak.  Mike is distinguished individual with academic backgrounds in political science and structural engineering from Air Force educational institutions and Columbia University.  He served 30 years in the United States Air Force as an engineering officer on active duty.  While there, he worked on the F-15 program, the C-17 program, the Advanced Cruise Missile program, and others.  Later, he served as the head of a division at the Air Force Research Laboratory and was the Commandant of the Air Force Institute of Technology.  After leaving the USAF, he became the President and CEO of the Ohio Aerospace Institute.

Mike discussed that America is still the world leader in aerospace technology and research and development.  He attributed this to the vast ingenuity and creativity of America, the public university system, and the meritocracy style of economic gain inherent in United States culture.  Supporting this is a system of national laboratories leading the way in cutting edge research.  However, he warned that our aerospace lead is diminishing as the rest of the world catches up.  In particular, elementary and secondary education was not providing proficiency in mathematics and science to many children in the United States.  As a “worrisome indicator,” the United States spent more on tort litigation and on research.

Mike then discussed Ohio’s role in the aerospace field.  Ohio is known for numerous aerospace institutions, including Wright-Patterson AFB, Glenn Research Center, AFRL, and numerous universities with graduate aerospace programs.  The aerospace industry also has a huge impact on the Ohio economy, bringing in over 1.2 billion dollars annually over 8100 jobs.  Ohio is also home to numerous aerospace industries, including GE Aviation, Net Jets, Hartzell Propeller, and others.

Mike concluded with a summary of the state of aerospace in America.  He noted that the U.S. is still the world leader in aerospace and that American industries and highly innovative and analytic.  However, education is the key to maintaining this leadership and significant improvements need to be made now and in the future.

A question and answer session followed after the presentation and the Glennterns were able to ask about everything from engineering education in the US to nuclear propulsion technology.