BS ’83 Mechanical Engineering
In 2018, Tina Panontin was selected for the School of Engineering’s highest honor, the Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award for her contributions to the advancement of the nation’s aerospace program.
After her time at Santa Clara University and having earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Stanford University, Dr. Panontin led a distinguished 34-year career at NASA-Ames Research Center (ARC). Most recently as Chief Engineer, Dr. Panontin was a key contributor to major space flight programs, flagship science programs, low cost lunar science missions, biological space experiments, and complex facility developments. She was the primary investigator for major, high visibility failure review boards for Space Shuttle, science satellite, and ground facility incidents. Dr. Panontin also provided key strategic analysis for innovation frameworks, organizational risks, space mission proposals, and investment portfolios. As the ARC Group Lead on Materials and Failure Analysis, she, along with her team, investigated and solved the center’s most complex engineering issues and researched improved methods and tools used in engineering and risk assessment. She led the development of Investigation Organizer—software enabling dispersed groups to more effectively and efficiently work together to identify accident causes and improve results communications—which was awarded a patent in 2009.
Dr. Panontin served as NASA Chair Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, Senior Research Associate for the San Jose State University Research Foundation, and is currently Professor of Practice with the College of Engineering at San Jose State University. Her work has been recognized with more than 25 awards, including the NASA Medal for Exceptional Achievement, NASA Medal for Outstanding Leadership, and the Silver Snoopy, the Astronauts’ Personal Achievement Award. She has more than 20 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, and is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
For her contributions to the advancement of the nation’s aerospace program, Tina Panontin receives this award.