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Dr. John Valase and three students working on a drone looking equipment with camera.
Dr. John Valasek and a group of students work on an unmanned aerial vehicle. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering
Photo of John Valasek
Dr. John Valasek | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Dr. John Valasek, professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University and director of the Center for Autonomous Vehicles and Sensor Systems (CANVASS) in the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), has been selected by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) as a 2017 AIAA Fellow. The AIAA confers the distinction of Fellow upon 1 percent of its members in recognition of their notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences or technology of aeronautics and astronautics.

“The work and leadership of the AIAA Fellows and Honorary Fellows consistently ensures that today’s aerospace dreams become tomorrow’s realities,” said AIAA President Jim Maser. “They are individuals who have each shown a tireless dedication to shaping the future of aerospace. AIAA congratulates the members of the 2017 Class of Fellows and Honorary Fellows on their selection.”

The induction ceremony will take place at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala on May 3 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

Valasek, who is director of the Vehicle Systems & Control Laboratory in the aerospace department, has been with the aerospace department for 20 years.

He has served as chair of committee to 47 completed graduate degrees, and his students have won national and regional student competitions in topics ranging from aircraft design to smart materials to artificial intelligence. He teaches courses in atmospheric flight mechanics, vehicle management systems, modern control of aerospace systems, cockpit systems and displays and aircraft design.

Valasek has been actively conducting flight mechanics and controls research of manned and unmanned air vehicles in both industry and academia for 32 years, previously as a flight control engineer for the Northrop Corporation, Aircraft Division. His research is currently focused on bridging the gap between traditional computer science topics and aerospace engineering topics, and he is a patent holder and leading developer of flight control systems for autonomous air refueling of unmanned air vehicles.

Valasek has also made contributions to the flight control of hypersonic air vehicles, planetary entry vehicles, morphing aircraft, and cockpit systems and displays for general aviation flight safety. He is currently a member of the AIAA Unmanned Systems Technical Program Committee, the AIAA Intelligent Systems Technical Committee and an associate editor of the Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics.

Valasek has authored or co-authored three books: Morphing Aerospace Vehicles and Structures (2012); Advances in Intelligent and Autonomous Aerospace Systems (2012); and Nonlinear Multiple Time Scale Systems in Standard and Non-Standard Forms: Analysis and Control (2014).

Valasek has been recognized for his teaching with awards at three levels: the 2014 ASEE/AIAA John Leeland Atwood Award as the national outstanding aerospace educator; the Thaman University Professorship for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence (2016); the university level Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching (2008), and a Scholar Of The Montague Center For Teaching Excellence (2001); the college of engineering level B.P. Amoco Teaching Excellence Award (2001, 2003), and the Thomas U. McElmurry Teaching Excellence Award in the aerospace engineering department (2001, 2004, 2014).

Valasek serves as the faculty adviser for Texas A&M’s Sigma Gamma Tau (SGT) chapter, the aerospace engineering honor society. He served as the national president for SGT from 2006-2008, as well as the faculty adviser to the Texas A&M student branch of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics from 2000-2009, and received the National Faculty Advisor Award from AIAA in 2005.

Valasek earned a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 1986 and a master’s with honors and doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Kansas in 1990 and 1995, respectively.