Paul Gradl, a principal engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, received a 2022 Premier Award for Engineer of the Year from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, or AIAA, during its awards gala, held April 27 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

Gradl was recognized by the institute for his exceptional engineering and innovation, developing metal additive manufacturing techniques to meet NASA missions and industry needs.

“I am very honored to be standing here accepting this award, building upon my mentors’ work, and inspiring the next generation … and I’m grateful to all my colleagues across industry, government, and academia for your support,” Gradl told an audience of the gala’s more than 400 attendees. “Together, we will go back to the Moon and on to explore Mars.”

Gradl has led several projects across NASA for the additive manufacturing of liquid rocket engine combustion devices and supported a variety of development and flight programs for over 18 years. He has also championed and contributed to the agency’s Rapid and Analysis Manufacturing Propulsion Technology project, or RAMPT, helping to advance manufacturing methods, such as 3D printing, that will improve the performance and reduce the production costs of rocket thrust chamber assemblies and other projects.

“Paul is an exemplary engineer and an exceptional servant leader – innovative, collaborative, and driven,” Mary Beth Koelbl, director of Marshall’s Engineering Directorate, said. “He is also a role model to many, both internal to NASA and in the broader industrial base. We are so proud of him and all that he has accomplished.”

Gradl has authored and co-authored more than 80 journal articles and conference papers, holds five patents, and regularly teaches courses in additive manufacturing for spaceflight.

The recently named AIAA Engineer of the Year is also the recipient of numerous NASA and industry awards, including two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals, NASA Exceptional Service Medal, NASA Research and Technology, NASA Space Flight Honoree, and recognized by 3Dnatives as one of the “Most Influential Personalities of Additive Manufacturing 2020.”

With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 95 corporate members, AIAA is the world’s largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession.

Gradl is an associate fellow of AIAA and very active in STEM engagement. He serves on several committees across the industry, and chairs various sessions at leading conferences on additive manufacturing. Currently, he is co-authoring and co-editing a textbook titled “Metal Additive Manufacturing for Propulsion Applications” under the AIAA Progress in Astronautics and Aeronautics series.

“One of the joys of our work at NASA is inspiring future generations of explorers,” he said.

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