Meet Judy Foss Van Zante
Icing Branch, NASA Glenn Research Center
I wear several hats: Researcher and Project Manager; I have also played
Flight Test Engineer.
Research: …Have you noticed that most
of your education has involved answering ques-tions? Who gets to decide
which questions need to be asked? If you stick with a subject long enough
– say, to get your Ph.D. – you become the Expert; you decide which questions
are im-portant. Then you get to figure out how to an-swer them. For example,
in my job, I might think the world would be better off if I find a way
to detect when ice growth on an airplane’s wing is about to affect the
airplane’s handling qualities. What do I need to know to design a system
that will detect this condition? Can I make it fit to the existing system?
Education & Training Manager: I make
sure the information we discover and gather about aircraft in-flight icing
makes it to the pilots who might encounter the stuff. Like, how to recover
if the aircraft unexpectedly rolls over or pitches nose down.
Flight Test Engineer: for the NASA/FAA
Tailplane Icing Program, I got to fly on NASA’s icing research aircraft.
We put artificial ice on the horizontal tailplane and approached tailplane
stall conditions. One of my jobs was to call off tuft rows that indicated
how large the separation bubble was. After the flight tests, I analyzed
the data we collected. Some of my results appear in an FAA Advisory Circular.
My work directly impacts the way the FAA certifies aircraft to prevent
ice-contaminated tailplane stall.
Areas of Expertise: My Ph.D. work was
in Fluid Mechanics – Turbulent Shear Flows. I learned Aerodynamics on
the job. I am also applying educational theories I absorbed from my family
Interest and Abilities: Many types of people
are involved in the field of aircraft icing – -Scientists and Engineers
work to understand how and why the ice grows the way it does. We investigate
this on an actual aircraft in flight, an icing research tunnel and a computer.
-Meteorologist work to understand how to better
forecast icing conditions.
-Technicians, mechanical and electrical, put
things together so the in-flight and tunnel ex-periments can happen.
-Photographers and other scientific imaging
experts capture information for analysis.
- Everyone uses a computer.
Suggested subjects to study in school:
Math & Science (Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry,
Calculus, Chemistry & Physics)
Shop, wood or metal – hands-on experience
for how things actually work
Drafting/Graphics – to be able to explain what
you mean pictorially
Writing & Grammar – so you can communi-cate
all your wonderful ideas and have people pay attention; I really wish
I had paid attention to this in high school.
Any class that helps you learn how to think
logically and be creative.
Education and Training Needed:
If you want to call the shots, stay in school and get you Ph.D. in an
Engineering field, Me-chanical, Aerospace or Electrical. (B.S. + ~4 yrs)
If you don’t want to stay in school that long,
get a B.S. (4 yrs of college) and take orders from the Ph.D. until you
get enough experience to call your own shots.
If you really like the hands-on without the
book & brain work, become a technician. Good technicians are invaluable
to the success of any experimental project.
- NASA Glenn Icing Branch Web Site (Researchers) http://www.lerc.nasa.gov/WWW/IRT/
- NASA Glenn Icing Research Tunnel (Facility) http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/
- Educational Resources
- Check the weather before you fly
What can I do right now?
Stay curious about why things happen.
Ask Questions – what, when, where, why & how