Professor receives prestigious flight simulation award


­UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Joe Horn has been selected to receive the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) 2017 de Florez Award for Flight Simulation.

Horn, professor of aerospace engineering, was cited for pioneering contributions to rotorcraft flight simulation and education, including piloted ship-board landing, real-time simulation of coupled flight dynamics and ship-air wake modeling, and flight simulation with acoustics predictions.

“It was a nice surprise to be selected for this award, and it’s a tremendous honor because I know some of the people who have received this award in the past, who are highly respected in the industry,” said Horn. “I have to thank all of my students who have helped me in my research over the years, as well as my colleagues in the aerospace engineering department.”

Horn’s research on flight simulators has been instrumental in improving military pilot training, and in designing the next generation of computer-aided flight control systems for ship-based helicopters.

“Ship landing is one of the more difficult things pilots have to do,” said Horn. “There’s a big cost involved in testing every single combination of ship-board landing; it also requires a lot of time and there are safety issues involved.”

More accurate and advanced simulation tools will reduce training costs because pilots will not be required to conduct as much live testing. Also, the simulations can be used for developing enhanced control systems which will help alleviate safety issues.

Horn, who is also the deputy director of the Penn State Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence, joined Penn State in 2000. He is an AIAA Associate Fellow, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Helicopter Society (AHS) and served as the technical chair of the 68th AHS Annual Forum in 2012.

For the de Florez Award, Horn will receive a medal and certificate of citation on Tuesday, January 10, 2017, during a recognition luncheon to be held in conjunction with the 2017 AIAA Science and Technology Forum and Exposition in Grapevine, Texas. In addition to the award, he will receive a $500 honorarium which he will donate to a charitable organization yet to be determined.

The de Florez Award for Flight Simulation, named in honor of the late Admiral Luis de Florez, is presented for an outstanding individual achievement in the application of flight simulation to aerospace training, research and development. Horn is the third individual from Penn State to have received the award.

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Chris Spallino

Joe Horn, professor of aerospace engineering

Joe Horn, professor of aerospace engineering and deputy director of the Penn State Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence



The Penn State Department of Aerospace Engineering, established in 1961 and the only aerospace engineering department in Pennsylvania, is consistently recognized as one of the top aerospace engineering departments in the nation, and is also an international leader in aerospace education, research, and engagement. Our undergraduate program is ranked 15th and our graduate programs are ranked 15th nationally by U.S. News & World Report, while one in 25 holders of a B.S. degree in aerospace engineering in the U.S. earned it from Penn State. Our students are consistently among the most highly recruited by industry, government, and graduate schools nationwide.

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