USU lab deputy director Frank Redd retires

By Arrin Brunson
The Herald Journal
August 18, 2002

After planning the Small Satellite Conference for 16 years, you’d think the deputy director of the Space Dynamics Laboratory and Chair of the Small Satellite Conference, Frank Redd, could handle any glitch in the program.

Yet, an unexpected turn of events Wednesday night at the annual award banquet at Utah State University left Dr. Redd practically speechless.

At the point in the evening’s schedule when the conference hosts usually thank the staff members and sponsors, speaker Robert H. Meurer, technical chairman of Small Satellite Conference, changed the protocol.

“Instead, the conference staff wants to thank Frank for all he has done for this conference. For 16 years you have worked tirelessly to make this conference the premier conference on small satellites in the world, and possibly one of the best space conferences anywhere,” Meurer said. “You have always provided us with ideas and strategies to make this conference better and better each year. You are someone whom we all genuinely want to be around. We all greatly love and respect you.”

Meurer went on to say that kind words are not enough to express adequate appreciation to Redd and that a lasting tribute was necessary.

“We all know just how devoted you are to students, so tonight we honor you by announcing that the student scholarship competition will now be named the Dr. Frank J. Redd Student Scholarship Competition,” he said.

Redd received a standing ovation from the audience after his brief and emotional comments.

“I am speechless, I didn’t anticipate an honor of this magnitude,” he said. “I could never have imagined a more prestigious award to have my name on.”

A highlighted event of the Small Satellite Conference, which attracted national and international attendees from 10 to 20 different countries this year, is the student scholarship competition. Each year undergraduate and graduate engineering students submit technical papers to compete for scholarship funds donated by participating aerospace firms.

Of the six finalists selected in 2002, three were international students. Over $130,000 in scholarship money has been awarded over the 10-year history of this competition, including a record $19,500 that was awarded Wednesday night.

Scholarship winners can use the money for tuition, books, housing, car payments, or however they see fit.

After 18 years of service, Redd recently announced his retirement as deputy director of the Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) and Utah State University (USU) professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

Prior to joining SDL and USU, Redd had a 27-year career with the U.S. Air Force where he served as the Vice Commander of the Air Force Space Technology Center (AFSTC) providing oversight of programs in excess of $400 million. He also managed the construction of Vandenberg’s Space Shuttle Launch Facility in his role as deputy to the director of the Air Force Space Shuttle program.

After retiring from the Air Force as a Colonel, Redd received competing offers from Utah State University, Brigham Young University, and California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“Utah State University and the Space Dynamics Laboratory were most fortunate in being able to attract the services of colleague Dr. Frank Redd as a teacher, researcher and administrator,” said Doran Baker, deputy director of the Rocky Mountain NASA Space Grant Consortium. “Working with Dr. Redd is an opportunity one is honored to have.”

Redd immediately made an impact with the students and programs at USU, as attested by Charles Swenson, who was Redd’s student in the early 1980s. Since then Swenson earned a bachelor and master’s degree at USU before going to Cornell to earn his doctorate. As his teacher, then colleague and friend, Swenson said Redd’s character has been a positive influence.

“It was his character and his faith in God that impressed me a lot. It was obvious that he was an outstanding individual,” Swenson said. “In some senses, I’m riding on the coat tails, or walking down the sidewalk that he has shoveled.”

Redd taught space engineering classes including orbital mechanics, spacecraft altitude control systems, space system design and control systems. He received a nine-year NASA grant to teach space system design. Several of the students’ designs from that class were implemented into actual NASA programs.

It was a love of teaching that brought him to Utah State and he hopes to stay involved in an emeritus status, Redd said.

“I am pleased to see graduates of our program in prominent positions throughout the whole spectrum of the space industry,” Redd said. “I feel privileged to have been a part of the growth of the aerospace program at Utah State University.”

Redd’s colleagues say he was instrumental in securing the approval of the State of Utah Board of Regents for incorporation of an accredited Aerospace Engineering program into the College of Engineering.

“He had many opportunities following his illustrious Air Force career, and we are very fortunate that he decided to move to Cache Valley. He has enriched all of our lives with effective leadership and teaching as well as his friendship,” said Allan Steed, director of SDL.