Academy professor named Engineering Educator of the Year

  • Published
  • By Amber Baillie
  • Academy Public Affairs
The deputy director of operations for the Astronautics Department here was named the 2014 Engineering Educator of the Year by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and will be honored May 22 during a banquet in Lone Tree.

Lt. Col. David Richie, also an assistant professor of Astronautics here, will receive the college-level award on behalf of the AIAA- Rocky Mountain Section for his accomplishments and commitment to cadets in the Academy's Astronautics Department.

"I'm shocked and honored," he said. "We have several outstanding instructors in our department who are also very deserving of this award. In my mind, this award recognizes their contributions by bringing credit upon the Astronautics Department."

Col. Martin France, the department head for the Academy's Astronautics Department, nominated Richie for the honor. The AIAA educator awards recognize educators for their contributions and for motivating the next generation of aerospace professionals, according to AIAA's website.

"I'm glad Dave has been recognized for his superb work, especially this year," France said. "He's put in enormous work in several of our courses and is an example of the best the Academy has to offer in classroom teaching and advising."

Richie, a 1994 Academy graduate, taught from 2001-2004 and returned to the Astronautics Department in 2010. He leads advanced courses here in astrodynamics, spacecraft dynamics and control and satellite design. He is also an academic advisor for 16 cadets each year and supports over 80 cadets designing, building, and operating future research satellites.

"I love seeing the light bulb come on when cadets understand difficult topics," he said. "I also love to talk about and solve technical problems each day."

Richie is a senior member of AIAA, a professional society created in 1963, dedicated to the global aerospace profession.

"It's great when colleagues in our field recognize the work we do," he said. "In other words, it brings prestige to our program and bolsters our lifeblood, our graduates who've been in our classes, the future leaders of our nation. My co-workers in the Astronautics Department are amazing. They give me incredible examples to follow each and every day."

Richie is also in the midst of writing and publishing several journal articles to document his work and that of others, France said.

"Dave's broad educational, practical engineering, and military experience brings a lot to the classroom," France wrote in his letter of recommendation. "His reviews are stellar, semester after semester. Dave has always been a phenomenal instructor, teaching 750 plus cadets in eight different courses over 16 semesters here. He is very skilled at keeping student's attention, a great role model, caring for us to the point of self-sacrifice, and is an awesome instructor."

Within the last 10 years, the Astronautics Department has had several instructors win the award including Lt. Col. James Hall last year and Lt. Col. A.J. Rolling in 2012.

"It validates the quality of our program on a regional and national basis," France said. "When you're comparing the Academy as an engineering school in the region to CU-Boulder, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado State University and others, you see that there's some stiff competition at schools that have large graduate research programs. We focus on undergraduate education here and it's satisfying to see that AIAA recognizes the importance of that and how well we, and especially Dave, are doing it."