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Woodrow Whitlow, Jr.

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Information about Woodrow Whitlow, Jr.

Profile image of Woodrow Whitlow, Jr.

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Aerospace Engineer
Federal Government Administrator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Islands
Favorite Quote:
Highlight a player when you see him in the street.

Birthplace

Born:
12/13/1952
Birth Location:
Inkster, Michigan

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Aerospace Engineer
Federal Government Administrator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Lobster
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Islands
Favorite Quote:
Highlight a player when you see him in the street.

Birthplace

Born:
12/13/1952
Birth Location:
Inkster
See how Woodrow Whitlow, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Aerospace engineer and federal government administrator Woodrow Whitlow, Jr. was born on December 13, 1952 in Inkster, Michigan. A quick-learner, he excelled at math and science. Whitlow aspired to be a chemist until space missions in the 1960s captured his imagination, changing his career goal to astronaut. Whitlow received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1974, 1975 and 1979, respectively.

Whitlow's long career with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) began in 1979, when he was hired as a research scientist at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. At Langley, he specialized in fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, and aeroelasticity. He rose quickly to become a senior research scientist and headed various specialty branches in astrophysics and aeronautics. In 1994, Whitlow became the Director of the Critical Technologies Division in the Office of Aeronautics at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He then moved to the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio in 1998, where he served as the Director of Research and Technology, among other positions. Whitlow was made Deputy Director of the NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center in 2003 and oversaw launch-related services and activities until 2005 when he was appointed to Director of the NASA Glenn Research Center. In 2010, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden named Whitlow the Associate Administrator for the Mission Support Directorate at NASA Headquarters. He retired in August of 2013 and later became Executive in Residence at the Cleveland State University Washkewicz College of Engineering.

Throughout his career, Whitlow has written over forty technical papers, most in the areas of unsteady transonic flow, aeroelasticity and propulsion. His awards include NASA’s Distinguished Service Honor Medal—the Agency’s highest honor; the Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive—the highest award for federal executives; Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive; U.S. Black Engineer of the Year in Government; the NASA Exceptional Service Honor Medal; the NASA Equal Opportunity Honor Medal; the (British) Institution of Mechanical Engineers William Sweet Smith Prize; the Minorities in Research Science Scientist-of-the-Year Award; and the National Society of Black Engineers Distinguished Engineer of the Year Award. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics elected him as a Fellow in 2010. He also holds an honorary doctor of engineering degree from Cranfield University.

Woodrow Whitlow, Jr. was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 3, 2012.

See how Woodrow Whitlow, Jr. is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Woodrow Whitlow's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Woodrow Whitlow lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about his mother, Willie Mae Whitlow
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Woodrow Whitlow describes how his parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his parents' personalities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his childhood neighborhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Woodrow Whitlow describes the history of Inkster, Michigan
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Woodrow Whitlow describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his early education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Woodrow Whitlow describes how the space race inspired him
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about his childhood interest in sports
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about his interest in science and in space
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his experience at Inkster High School
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about the 1967 Detroit riots
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about his exposure to Detroit-area museums
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his family's educational pursuits
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about the 1969 moon landing
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his and others' reactions to Dr. King's assassination
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about Star Trek
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his first impression of Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his experience at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about his wife
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about the role of church in his life
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his doctoral research on unstable transonic flow
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his hiring at NASA's Langley Research Center
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about the influence of Katherine G. Johnson
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about Harriett Jenkins
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his work at NASA's Langley Research Center
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about the importance of space exploration in 1979
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about transonic flow and aircraft safety
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about Guion Bluford's space flight
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about wanting to become an astronaut
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his work on computer models and his desire to become an astronaut
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about NASA's Challenger disaster
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about the politics of space exploration
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his efforts to attract minority students to science
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about becoming the U.S. Black Engineer of the Year
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about Charles Bolden and Mae Jemison
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about greater acceptance of minorities at NASA
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his work as the Director of the Critical Technologies Division
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his work at the John Glenn Research Center
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about the future of aircraft engineering
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about his work at the Glenn Research Center
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about honors that he has received
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Woodrow Whitlow describes a typical day at work
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Woodrow Whitlow describes his contributions as a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about his legacy
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about the end of NASA's shuttle program
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Woodrow Whitlow shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about his family
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Woodrow Whitlow talks about how he would like to be remembered