AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate celebrates annual honorees

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The men and women of the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate came together January 13, 2017, to celebrate “A Century of Scientific Excellence” and honor the year’s outstanding performers at the 64th Annual Awards Luncheon.

Laura Rea, Senior Technology Program Manager for the Soft Matter Materials Branch, took the stage as the master of ceremonies for the event, which honored over 90 finalists and awardees.

Jon Tirpak served as the event’s guest speaker, addressing an audience of over 200 attendees. Tirpak began his career as a lieutenant in the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate in the early 1980's, where he studied fatigue and fracture properties of aluminum casting alloys and conducted structural failure analysis on various platforms. Tirpak now works as the Senior Program Manager for the Advanced Technology Institute Advanced Materials Division.

The themes of “people, process, and purpose” permeated Tirpak’s address. Speaking of the directorate’s accomplishments past and present, he pointed to the importance of teamwork, emphasizing to the crowd, “It isn’t one person that does it all.”  

Tirpak went on to remind the audience of the ultimate purpose of their mission, saying “You are here to serve the Air Force. You are the experts in materials science, engineering, technology, and manufacturing. You serve others through your profession.” He added that in a nation of tremendous freedoms, service is of great importance.  “We have a wonderful, wonderful nation, and ultimately, we’re here to serve and preserve those freedoms.” 

Following Tirpak’s remarks, the award finalists were announced and winners honored. The top scientific and engineering awards were presented to the team of Dr. Dan Berrigan, Dr. Benjamin Leever, and Dr. Michael Durstock (Robert T. Schwartz Engineering Achievement Award), and to Dr. Benji Maruyama (Charles J. Cleary Scientific Award).  Berrigan, Leever, and Durstock were honored for their work in the development of conformal antennas that can be integrated onto an unmanned vehicle surface, allowing the integration of a critical communications capability.  Maruyama was awarded for his work with the Autonomous Research System, an automated process that can design, conduct, and evaluate experimental data without human intervention, thereby increasing the speed and accuracy of the materials discovery process.

The entire award recipient list is as follows:

 Engineering Expertise Award:  Dr. David Mollenhauer

 International Award:  Dr. John Boeckl and Dr. Steve Fairchild 

 R. Lee Kennard S&T Manufacturing Heritage Award:  Mr. Brenchley Boden, Ms. Amber Gilbert, Ms. Pamela Kobryn, and Mr. Richard Meyers

 Program Management Award:  Dr. Dean Foster

 Supervisor Excellence Award:  Ms. Amber Davis

 Vincent J. Russo Award for Leadership Excellence:  Dr. Benjamin Leever

 Mission Support Award (Individual):  Ms. Kristen Wentworth

 Mission Support Award (Team):  Ms. Robin Bartley, Ms. Kelly Dougan, Ms. Michela Greco, Ms. Traci Haerr, Ms. Laura Leising, and Ms. Susan Palmer

 Director’s Award (Team):  Maj. Benjamin Bennett, 2nd Lt. Colin Couch, Lt. Col. Scott Fitzner, 1st Lt. Jason Goins, Capt. Jay Hodkin, Capt. Carlos Suarez, and Mr. Jim Vital

 Director’s Award (Junior Individual):  Dr. Jonathan Vernon

 Director’s Award (Senior Individual):  Mr. Mark DiPadua

 Company Grade Officer:  Capt. David Walker

 Field Grade Officer:  Maj. James Enderby

 Robert T. Schwartz Engineering Achievement Award:  Dr. Dan Berrigan, Dr. Benjamin Leever, Dr. Michael Durstock

 Charles J. Cleary Scientific Award:  Dr. Benji Maruyama