Quiet Supersonic Flight Over Land –  Lowering the Boom

Safe Flight for Drones – Designing a System for Urban Air Mobility

Starr Ginn

NASA Urban Air Mobility (UAM) Grand Challenge (GC) series Lead

Starr Ginn leads the development, and execution of the UAM Grand Challenge (G)series. The UAM GC will consist of the flight test of novel eVTOL vehicle and airspace management technologies in the context of increasingly complex safety and integration scenarios. The GC will involve a broad range of industry, government and community participants and will require the management of a large number of diverse participant and partnership agreements.


Starr Ginn has a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering from California State University Northridge and a Master’s of Aerospace Engineering from the University of California Los Angeles. Starr has been interning at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (now Armstrong) since she was 17 years old starting in a high school internship program. Starr has been involved in supporting flight research for many different classes of Aircraft; SR-71, F-15B, F-18 Active Aeroelastic Wing, X-45, B-52/X-37, Pad Abort 1, Global Observer, Phantom Eye, X-56 and X-57. Starr has been the Deputy Aeronautics Research Director (DARD) for 3 years at NASA Armstrong Flight research center, helping to shape the strategic formulation of aeronautics research goals. She works with the Aeronautics Research Mission Directors, Center Aeronautics Research Directors and staff to define new aeronautics programs and execute projects. Since 2012, Starr has been the portfolio manager for Hybrid Electric Aircraft Research at Armstrong, including AirVolt, HEIST, X-57 SCEPTOR and the NASA Convergent Aeronautics Solutions Project incubation.


TIME AT ARMSTRONG:  23 years government service

NASA Dryden Internships 1992-1998

Formula SAE, Designer, Fabricator, Competition Driver, 10th place out of 100 Colleges ‘99

NASA Dryden Full-Time Aerostructures SME– 99 through 2009

NASA Dryden Aerostructures Deputy Branch Chief – 2009 through 2011

NASA Dryden ARMD Chief Engineer – 2011 through 2015

NASA Armstrong Deputy Aeronautics Research Director – 2015 through 2019

David Avanesian has worked at the NASA Glenn Research Center for 11 years—1 year as a support service contractor and 10 years as a civil servant. Prior to working at NASA, he worked for 3 years in private industry, primarily in the field of high power distribution and terrestrial grid. For the first 5 years of his NASA career, he worked as an electrical engineer in the Systems Engineering Division supporting the Space Communication and Navigation program, leading development of the high-power flywheel energy storage system for terrestrial power grid application. He also led in the successful completion of the Heart Pump project in collaboration with the University of Indiana School of Medicine, delivering a novel cardiovascular assist device. His work in the Systems Division focused primarily on rapid development of new technologies and delivery of hardware products and prototypes. Five years ago he switched to the Power and Propulsion Division to focus working on Electrified Aircraft Propulsion systems. His main focus is development of lightweight qualified hardware for the X–57 project and other electrified aircraft topologies. His most recent efforts focus on raising technology readiness levels (TRLs) of various components of electrified propulsion power train systems including advanced high-power density motors with integrated thermal management systems, highly efficient power inverters and converters that are at flight weight, and infusion of new materials into existing designs such as soft magnetic materials to decrease weight of high-power filters. He is currently leading multiple teams including the HEATheR project, X–57 High Lift Motor Controller, and numerous risk-reduction efforts for electrified propulsion systems. He has a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from Cleveland State University and a master of science in electrical engineering from Cleveland State University.

Electrified Aircraft – Tackling the
Challenges of Alternative Propulsion

Dr. Stephen Ruffin is a professor in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech, director of NASA’s Georgia Space Grant Consortium, head of the Aerothermodynamics Research and Technology (ART) Laboratory and chair of the AE Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics Group. Dr. Ruffin is a specialist in high temperature gas dynamics, compressible flow aerodynamics, and airframe propulsion integration. He is leading development of a 3-D Cartesian Grid based Navier-Stokes solver (NASCART-GT) for design applications and development of Cartesian-grid approaches for chemically reacting flows. He is developing novel approaches which allow for Navier-Stokes simulations using a purely Cartesian grid solver. His aerothermodynamics research and technology (ART) laboratory applied these techniques to applications as diverse as hypersonic planetary entry vehicles and flow physics, rotorcraft airframe interaction flows, transonic and supersonic missiles and unsteady store separation problems. Dr. Ruffin is director of NASA’s Georgia Space Grant Consortium (GSGC) and is a former two-term national chair of the Council of Space Grant Directors. He leads the operations of the GSGC which conducts student research and design team activities, internships, scholarships, fellowships, K-12 student hands-on activities and camps, K-12 teacher training programs and public outreach activities at museums, science centers and in the community. Through roughly 40 annual projects conducted by the GSGC, 30,000 Georgia residents and over 4,400 educators are trained annually. In his national chair role, he helps coordinate activities of space grant consortia from all states and helps set the direction for national STEM outreach efforts.


Education: B.S., Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Princeton University, 1985; M.S., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1987; Ph.D., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University, 1993


Honors: NASA Superior Performance Award, 1992; NASA National Aerospace Plane CFD Validation Team Award, 1992; NASA Historically Black Colleges & Universities Research Center Team Award, 1992; AIAA Best Thermophysics Paper Award, 1993; CETL/Amoco Junior Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, 1997; Meritor Inc. Faculty Excellence Award, 2000; Hesburgh Teaching Fellow Award, 2010; Aerospace Engineering Most Valuable Professor, 2010; AIAA Associate Fellow, 2011; Dean George C. Griffin Georgia Tech Faculty of the Year Award, 2012



  • Aerothermodynamics Research and Technology Laboratory (ARTLAB)
  • Georgia Space Grant Consortium (GSGC)
  • Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence (VLRCOE)


  • Aerodynamics & Fluid Mechanics

Claudia Herrera received a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2004 from the University of Texas at El Paso.  She accepted a job offer in the structural dynamics group within the Aerostructures Branch at NASA’s now, Armstrong Flight Research Center.  As a member of the structural dynamics group, she contributed to many flight research projects from the analysis and simulation phases to the flight validation culmination.  She developed finite element models and performed modal analyses.  These analyses were then correlated and models were updated to match ground vibration and mass properties testing that she coordinated and executed.  The updated models let to the generation of Aeroelastic analyses, with which she led Aeroelastic flight testing of a wide variety of flight research endeavors at Armstrong’s Mission Control Room.  She supported projects such as the F-15 supersonic flight test bed, Pad Abort-1, and SCRAT (SubsoniC Research Aircraft Testbed), a Gulfstream-III modified to serve as a subsonic flight testbed, which carried the Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) flaps, a set of compliant control surfaces that will one day enable morphing airplane technologies.  In the fall of 2017, she transitioned into the Systems Engineering and Integration Branch at Armstrong, where she became Chief Engineer for Phase Three of the Acoustics Research Measurements (or ARM3) on Armstrong’s SCRAT. The objective for ARM3 was to evaluate the effectiveness of several types of airframe noise reduction technologies including the ACTE flaps, landing gear fairings, and two types of gear cavity treatments.  At the completion of ARM3 in the spring of 2018, she continued on to X-57, NASA’s first all-electric vehicle and first piloted X-plane in two decades.  She currently supports the X-57 project as Deputy Chief Engineer with the purview of the project phases known as Mods III/IV.  The X-57 Mods III/IV phases aim at providing research and airworthiness data on distributed electric propulsion systems to industry, academia, and regulating organizations as well as provide lessons learned and a reference vehicle for public use.  Flight hardware is scheduled to commence fabrication in early 2020.

Jeffrey Homola is a researcher at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley with a current focus on UAS Traffic Management (UTM) and Urban Air Mobility (UAM). From the beginnings of the UTM project, Jeffrey has served as the Integration and Testing Lead. This position has included responsibilities for conducting UTM simulations in the Airspace Operations Laboratory as part of the development process and for ensuring the readiness and functionality of systems and interfaces used in large-scale, distributed live flight testing. He has also served as the NASA lead for the joint FAA-NASA UTM Concepts and Use Cases Working Group, which collaboratively develops and communicates the state of the UTM concept in coordination with Industry. More recently, Jeffrey has begun transitioning to research efforts in the area of UAM as the System Design and Integration Lead for the NASA UAM Grand Challenge where he will apply his background and experience in the service-based, distributed approach to airspace management pioneered through UTM to the future environments envisioned with UAM.

Jeffrey’s road to NASA began in the US Navy where he served over eight years as an Operations Specialist in the Combat Information Centers aboard two ships as well as in a simulations laboratory ashore. While finishing his commitments to the Navy, Jeffrey began his studies at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC) where he was able to eventually transfer to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as a UC Regents Scholar. He graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in Cognitive Science with a Specialization in Computing. He then went on to earn a M.S. In Human Factors and Ergonomics from San Jose State University (SJSU). Through his graduate studies program at SJSU, Jeffrey was able to begin work at NASA Ames Research Center as an intern. Through this internship, Jeffrey gained experience in Human Systems Integration in the areas of Air Traffic Control, Air Traffic Management, and Function Allocation through research that targeted forward looking concepts. He continued that line of research after completing graduate studies and becoming a Research Associate. In 2015, Jeffrey became a NASA civil servant, where he began early work in UTM as well as related areas of System Wide Safety and Autonomous Systems.