AFRL engineer named as American Society of Mechanical Engineers Fellow

  • Published
  • By Rachel Simones
  • Air Force Research Laboratory
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – Dr. Stephen Clay, a principal aerospace engineer with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Aerospace Systems Directorate, was named an American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Fellow, April 15, 2021 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Clay has worked for AFRL for 27 years, where he has served as a research engineer on a variety of AFRL programs and projects.

“Working for AFRL provides countless opportunities to excel,” said Clay. “There have been so many people throughout my career that have mentored me along the way. Following their advice to step out of my comfort zone and try new things is likely what led to this recognition. Successful engineers in AFRL are the ones with an entrepreneurial spirit.”

Clay’s career began in 1993 when he was accepted into the Palace Knight Program by Wright Labs. He went on to earn a Master’s and Doctorate degree in Engineering Mechanics. After furthering his education, he spent six years as a research engineer in AFRL’s Advanced Structural Concepts Branch. By 2007, Clay had moved on to become the Assistant to the Chief Scientist at AFRL, where he worked under Dr. Don Paul. In 2009, he served as a research engineer, acting branch chief and tech advisor in AFRL’s Analytical Structural Mechanics Branch. Since 2012, Clay has served as a research engineer, branch technical advisor and chief engineer for AFRL’s Structures Technology Branch. Clay led several technological advancements during his decades-long career with the Air Force.

“I defined the strategy and led the tactical development of progressive damage analysis for composite structures for the Aerospace Systems Directorate,” said Clay. “The most notable accomplishment was the benchmarking exercise during which we evaluated nine emerging analysis methods being developed around the country. This led to my co-editing two Special Issues for the Journal of Composite Materials. AFRL built and is executing a new research portfolio based on the technology gaps identified during this benchmarking exercise.”

Clay’s recent achievement of being named an ASME Fellow speaks to his dedication to providing the operational warfighter with cutting-edge technology throughout his nearly three-decade long career.

“ASME is one of the largest technical societies in the country,” said Dr. John Russell, the Chief of the Aerospace Systems Directorate’s Structures Technology Branch. “It promotes the art, science and practice of multidisciplinary engineering and allied sciences around the globe. Throughout his 27-year Air Force career, Dr. Clay has significantly contributed to the advancement of engineering technologies related to the design military aircraft structures, in particular for large integrated and bonded composite structures.”

Clay looks forward to contributing his technical expertise and career experiences to his new role within ASME.

“Being honored as a Fellow in a professional organization contributes to AFRL being recognized as a world leader in aerospace research,” said Clay. “Professional societies add significant value to AFRL researchers and the scientific community. They aid in the rapid dissemination of research findings, building networks of professional colleagues, developing industry standards, promoting STEM education and so much more.”

Just as Clay has dedicated his career to technological advances at AFRL, he is also committed to fulfilling his new title as Fellow.

“AFRL puts its people in a position to lead research across broad technical area and influence research communities, not only through our in-house and contracted research, but also our technical society interactions,” said Russell. “This is a great personal honor for Dr. Clay and well deserved.”