Noted Aviation Innovators to Speak at WPI Program

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - October 1, 2003 - Six innovators in the field of aviation will come together to celebrate Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) contributions to aviation, as part of a year-long observance of the 100th anniversary of powered flight. The speakers, who will present on Friday, October 10, will kick off a weekend of aviation focused activities. The speaker series begins at 1:30 p.m. at WPI's Alden Hall and is open to the public.

Maj. Stacey J. Cotton Bonasso, WPI '90 was one of the first female F-16 pilots in the U.S. Air Force and the first woman to serve in the 4th Fighter Squadron. Currently, she is a T-38 instructor at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma where she is responsible for training U.S. Air Force pilots in high performance aircraft flight.

Robert F. Collings and his wife Caroline co-founded the Collings Foundation, a not-for-profit educational foundation to organize and support living history events that enable Americans to learn more about their heritage through direct participation. The original focus of the foundation was transportation-related events such as antique car rallies, carriage and sleigh rides, but during the mid 1980's, these activities broadened to include aviation related events such as air shows, barnstorming and other historical displays. Since 1989, the foundation's major focus has been the Veterans' "Wings of Freedom Tour" which showcases a fully restored WWII Consolidated B-24J Liberator and a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "Nine-O-Nine." The foundation operates more than a dozen historical aircraft.

James P. Dunn, WPI '67 is the executive director of the Foundation for Advancing Science and Technology (FASTec) which is sponsoring the development of the Electric Aircraft. He is also the president of Advanced Technology products, Inc., of Westborough, Massachusetts which is building the fuel-cell powered aircraft. Dunn also serves as the Chief Technical Officer for the Center for Technology Commercialization, NASA's New England Regional Technology Transfer Center. He is a widely known electrical engineer who is credited with inventing the laptop computer. He has more than 25 years of experience in a variety of high technology ventures with companies from startups to Fortune 100 companies like IBM and Exxon.

William W. Durgin, Ph.D., is the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, Vice President for Research and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He has responsibilities for the undergraduate and graduate academic programs and research programs. He is well-known for research in fluid mechanics including environmental, hydraulics, flow-induced vibration and noise, flow measurement, microgravity fluid mechanics, aerodynamics and turbulent flow. A pilot himself, Dr. Durgin co-owns a Piper Cherokee based at Worcester Regional Airport.

Douglas L. Jacobs is a major competitor in the world of soaring. Since his first solo flight in 1973 at the age of 23, he has logged approximately 4,000 hours of soaring time and was inducted into the U.S. Soaring Hall of Fame in 1990. He participated in the 2003 Return to Kitty Hawk Coast to Coast Glider Race winning the 15M Class. He placed first in the most recent 14 Meter National Soaring Championship in August of this year. He is a contributor to Soaring Magazine, the Treasurer and Director-at-Large of the Soaring Society of America, and the Chairman of the U.S. Team Committee.

Richard Maurer is the author of award-winning books on science and history for young readers. His most recent title The Wright Sister: Katharine Wright and Her Famous Brothers, published for the 100th anniversary of the world's first powered flight was called "the most original of the centennial offerings" by The Washington Post Book World. Maurer's five other books include Airborne: The Search for the Secret of Flight, which won the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, and The Wild Colorado, winner of the Western Writers Association Spur Award and the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Award.

Captain Ross D. Pease, WPI '95, is the Chief of Training for the 325th Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. He maintains combat mission ready (CMR) status as a B-2 Fixed Wing Stealth Instructor Pilot qualified in all aspects of B-2 conventional and nuclear wartime taskings. He is responsible for the training of all squadron members in the B-2. He has logged more than 1,900 flying hours and has flown B-2A, B-52H, T-37B, and T-38-A. He has received the Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

Following the presentations, will be a book signing and an opportunity to meet the speakers.

WPI's Aviation Speaker Series begins at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, October 10 at Alden Hall at the university's Worcester campus. It is free and open to the public, and will run through 5 p.m. For more information call 508-831-6024.

About WPI

Founded in 1865, WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education. WPI was the first university to understand that students learn best when they have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom to the solution of important problems. Today its students, working in teams at more than 20 project centers around the globe, put their knowledge and skills to work as they complete professional-level work that can have an immediate positive impact on society.

WPI's innovative, globally focused curriculum has been recognized by leaders in industry, government and academia as the model for the technological education of tomorrow. Students emerge from this program as true technological humanists, well rounded, with the confidence, the interpersonal skills and the commitment to innovation they need to make a real difference in their professional and personal lives.

The university awarded its first advanced degree in 1898. Today, its first-rate research laboratories support master's and Ph.D. programs in more than 30 disciplines in engineering, science and the management of technology. Located in the heart of the region's biotechnology and high-technology sectors, WPI has built research programs - including the largest industry/university alliance in North America - that have won it worldwide recognition.