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Ohio State professor honored by Brewer Trophy

Gregory, chair of Ohio State’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was selected because of “his enduring contributions and leadership in engaging the public and students in the science of flight through video series, innovative laboratory experiences, and world-record-setting testing of unmanned aerial vehicles.” 

“I’m deeply grateful and humbled to be selected for the NAA’s Brewer Trophy,” Gregory told the NAA.  “It’s especially gratifying to recognize that prior winners of the Brewer Trophy—including the NASA Spacelink Team (2000) and Professor John Anderson (2017)—were a tremendous inspiration in my own aerospace education.  It’s an honor to ‘pay it forward’ for the next generation in aerospace and aviation!” 

And pay it forward he does. Gregory brings an innovative approach to the classroom by introducing instructional material outside of the classroom so that time in class is tailored to the individual student and used to answer questions and apply the material. “He has developed a number of innovative student design projects and labs, including an international collaboration for aerial detection of buried landmines, a high-altitude balloon launch, analysis of US Airways 1549 flight recorder data, glider design/build/fly, and airfoil design/build/test using rapid prototyping,” the NAA said announcing the award.

Gregory also is heavily involved in unmanned aircraft and bringing them safely into the national airspace system—and he includes his students in the work. In 2017 he set a world speed and distance record with an autonomous drone. He serves as Ohio State’s principal investigator for the ASSURE FAA Center of Excellence on integrating UAVs in the national airspace system as well as for the university’s unmanned air traffic management system.

Working with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and The Great Courses, Gregory produced The Science of Flight series, comprising 24 video lectures and a digital guidebook, that provides “aviation education for a wide-ranging audience through an engineer’s approach to understanding flight and clarifying common misconceptions,” the NAA said, noting that more than 14,000 copies have been sold and 25,000 hours of online streaming watched since it was released mid-2017. He is currently working on a book, Introduction to Flight Testing, set to be released in 2021.

“The Brewer Trophy has, for decades, recognized and encouraged the best ideas that use aviation to educate future generations,” stated NAA President Greg Principato.  “Professor Gregory is certainly a great college professor, but has gone well beyond those duties to broaden the net and get young people involved in design challenges, record attempts, and so many other innovative ways to use aviation to educate and learn.  He is a most worthy successor to the many great individuals and organizations to have received the award.” 

Other past winners of the trophy, established in 1943, include aviation educators John and Martha King, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the Civil Air Patrol, AOPA’s You Can Fly program, and educator and circumnavigator Barrington Irving.

AOPA served on the 2020 Brewer Trophy selection committee.

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