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ASU engineering professor receives highest civilian award from U.S. Air Force

man holding medals standing next to woman

Above: Werner J.A. Dahm (left) was recently presented the Secretary of the Air Force Distinguished Public Service Award, by the Honorable Dr. Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force. Photo courtesy of Werner J.A. Dahm

Werner J.A. Dahm, ASU Foundation Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Arizona State University, was recently presented the Secretary of the Air Force Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest recognition the United States Air Force gives to civilian non-employees.

The Honorable Dr. Heather Wilson, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the award in a ceremony at the Pentagon, which cites Dahm’s “exceptionally distinguished record of service with the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.”

The U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board is a Federal Advisory Committee that conducts studies on topics deemed critical by the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force comprised of preeminent scientists and engineers from industry, academia, federally-funded research and development centers and national laboratories.

Dahm, who joined the faculty of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering in 2010, has served on the board since 2005, including as the chairman of the board from 2014 to 2017.

During his service, Dahm led numerous Air Force studies including the “Technology Readiness for Hypersonic Vehicles,” “Munitions for the 2025+ Environment,” and “Maintaining Technology Superiority for the USAF” studies among many others.

Dahm also has led or contributed on in-depth technical reviews of the Air Force’s entire $4.3 billion annual research portfolio, independently reviewing Air Force Research Laboratory Directorates that have included air vehicles, space vehicles, propulsion, munitions, directed energy, sensors, information, aerospace systems, special programs and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Having volunteered more than 740 days of service to the U.S. Air Force since 2005, the award citation notes, “[Dahm’s] tremendous leadership provided senior leaders with the knowledge and insight to ensure America’s Air Force continues to provide lethal force, decisive advantage and prompt strike capability.” 

“My service with the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, and my time leading the board, have been among the most intellectually rewarding experiences of my career,” Dahm said.

Every year the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board conducts in-depth studies on some of the most difficult technical challenges the Air Force faces and helps guide its science and technology portfolio.

“As a scientist and engineer, my service on the board has been a tremendous opportunity to make important contributions to the Air Force and the nation far beyond what I could have imagined when I began my academic career. I look forward to continued service with the Scientific Advisory Board.”

About The Author

Erik Wirtanen

Erik Wirtanen graduated from Arizona State in 2001 with a B.S. in Recreation Management and Tourism. He got his start in the communications field as an undergrad with the ASU Athletics Media Relations office. He worked at UC Irvine from 2002 until 2014 in the Department of Athletics and then The Henry Samueli School of Engineering. In August of 2014, Wirtanen joined the communications office at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Media Contact: erik.wirtanen@asu.edu | 480-727-1957 | Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Communications

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