Virginia Tech's Walter O’Brien, the J. Bernard Jones Professor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering, was recently selected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the world’s largest aerospace professional society.

The AIAA, which selected only 24 members worldwide as Fellows this year, chooses about 1 in 1,000 members as Fellows.

“It’s a major honor, and I’m very grateful to my colleagues and the AIAA,” O’Brien said.

Since graduating from Virginia Tech in 1960 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering, O’Brien says that the fundamentals of the engineering sciences are the same, the field continues to expand, and evolve. 

“What has changed is our ability to apply our engineering knowledge much more rapidly, and with higher fidelity," O'Brien said. "We have advanced electronics for controls, and instant communications; that level of innovation continues to make the field stimulating and exciting.”

O’Brien earned a master's degree and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and from Virginia Tech, respectively. He is listed on six patents and currently conducts research investigating turbine engine inlet flows with flow distortions, two phase flows in turbomachines, ion methods for active flow control, and advanced instrumentation for turbomachinery clearance, pressure and temperature measurements. 

During his career he has supervised the graduate work of 125 students and published more than 150 technical papers and journal articles in the field of propulsion.

Share this story