robert-winglee,-1958-2020:-uw’s-‘rocket-man’-launched-hundreds-of-house-and-science-careers
Robert Winglee on July 17, 2019, on the opening of the “ANGLes Challenge,” marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon touchdown. (Mark Stone/University of Washington Photo)

The world aerospace group and college students throughout the Northwest have misplaced a researcher, mentor and “Rocket Man” who impressed and guided hundreds of younger folks towards careers within the stars.

That’s what colleagues and mates of the late University of Washington Professor Robert Winglee stated throughout a digital memorial service held final weekend.

“The community has lost not only a strong researcher but also an architect of experiences,” stated Jonathan Wrobel, a analysis engineer at Lockheed Martin who labored as a graduate pupil below Winglee. “Robert instilled a positive trajectory on so many careers and lives, and made the world a better place by it.”

Robert Winglee (University of Washington Photo)

Winglee, former chairman of UW’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences and present director of Washington’s NASA Space Grant Consortium, died after struggling a coronary heart assault on Christmas Eve. He was 62.

He is survived by his spouse, Jenny, and two kids, Kathryn and Matthew.

Winglee was born in Australia to Chinese-Australian mother and father, who from an early age instilled a drive for science studying, his brother, Peter Winglee stated. But the household “also encouraged our exploration of the practical side of physics and chemistry,” Peter Winglee stated “So naturally we explored projectiles and their propellants.”

Winglee attended the University of Sydney, the place he earned a bachelor’s diploma (with honors) and PhD. in physics. After commencement, Robert and Jenny Winglee moved to the United States in 1984. In 1991 he joined the UW, the place he taught and studied house plasma physics and propulsion methods.

He was a science innovator. He developed the “Penetrators” – described as a “space harpoon” that could possibly be fired into an asteroid or moon, crashing by means of the floor to gather samples, then recovered through a protracted line.  He additionally led graduate college students who developed Husky Sat 1, a know-how demonstrator satellite tv for pc launched into house in November 2019.

Winglee additionally was a talented college administrator, colleagues stated. He served a decade as chairman of the Earth and Space Sciences Department and fought for his packages through the steep cuts that adopted the Great Recession, UW Astrobiology professor Roger Buick added. “I don’t know how he did it but he managed to keep things stable at a time when many other departments were shrinking dramatically.”

He had a knack for uplifting others. “He was like our Captain Picard,” stated Irene Svete, a public info officer at UW. “An opportunity would appear on our horizon and he’d point at it as if to say ‘Make it so, Number One.’ ”

But it was Winglee’s mentorship to his graduate college students – and to highschool college students in underserved communities throughout the Northwest – that almost all of his colleagues keep in mind.

“Trying to make a career out of science is all about mentorship,” stated Darci Snowden, an assistant professor of physics at Central Washington University, who was certainly one of Winglee’s grad college students. “Robert reintroduced me to the joy of science, launching rockets and balloons and playing with robots.”

Winglee led pupil expeditions to launch rockets and climate balloons to locations starting from Moses Lake to the Australian Outback. He believed that being a science professor was not nearly publishing papers, however “getting students excited about STEM,” Snowden stated. “We will see his impact in the next generation of scientists and engineers.”

Many of these he reached had been highschool college students. Winglee conceived the Northwest Earth and Space Science Pipeline, a NASA-funded group that brings STEM training to historically underserved teenagers.

It was “a radical idea,” stated Melissa Edwards, director of digital studying at Seattle’s Museum of Flight. Winglee proposed “colleges, museums and K-12 educational partners across three states could work in tandem to deliver NASA-centric content to students.”

And it labored, stated Terrell Andrews, a Yakama Nation member who’s a highschool pupil in White Swan, Wash. “He encouraged us to do more, doing stuff that his (college) students were doing, but at the high school level.”

Winglee “dedicated his life to students seeking STEM careers,” stated NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, in a letter learn through the memorial. Winglee’s efforts strengthened NASA’s workforce and can assist get the United States get again to the moon, he added. “I will forever be grateful to the Rocket Man, his service to NASA and to the thousands of students he reached through his work.”