Born: People's Republic of China
Primarily active in: United States of America
Dr. Jing Gwo Yen was born in Nanjing, China on March 8, 1937. After finishing his undergraduate studies in Taiwan, which were supported by scholarships during all four years, Yen was granted a University Fellowship for graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also received financial support from the National Science Foundation and a scholarship from Penn. Upon receiving his M.S. in Engineering Mechanics in May of 1964, he worked at the Vertol Division at the Boeing Company for nearly three years. Motivated by his passion in engineering and support from his family, Yen returned to Penn in February 1967 to complete his PhD degree. After receiving his doctorate in Engineering Mechanics, he joined Bell Helicopter in 1968 and served for thirty-one years, with his last post as the Director of Flight Technology.
Dr. Yen still recalls his first assignment at Bell, which was an U.S. Air Force contract that required a study of the dynamic stability and transient response during the feathering and folding the blades of a tilting and folding-prop rotor. The feathering process occurs when the engine is disengaged while the tilt rotor is in airplane configuration. The blade pitch is increased to drop the rotor’s rotational speed to zero, and the blades are then indexed and folded. The study sought to determine transient response of the elastic blades, elastic wing, and aerodynamic interference between the rotor and the wing during this feathering process. This contract was a golden opportunity for a young engineer such as Yen. It offered him a comprehensive understanding of a coupled aero elastic rotor, pylon, and flexible wing system from the methodology development, prediction, wind tunnel testing and correlation that were all required in the statement of work. These results were reported in the Air Force TR 71-7. While working on this project, Yen reported to Mr. Troy Gaffey, who served as his supervisor and respected mentor at Bell for many years.
During his long and distinguished tenure, Dr. Yen had the opportunity to work on research, development, and production of all Bell’s advanced rotors, and was a member of both the Engineering and Flight Test teams in Forth Worth and in Canada. He credits his motivation and enthusiasm which fueled the challenging but exciting work to the excellent leadership at Bell, namely Mr. Jan Drees, Mr. Larry Jenkins, and Mr. Troy Gaffey. Furthermore, Yen was honored to have come across many respected scholars and professionals in his work who would later become colleagues and lifelong friends: Dr. Wayne Johnson, Dr. Bob Ormiston, Mr. John Davis, and Dr. Bill Warmbrodt; Professors Chopra, Gordon Leishman, Bob Lowey, Dan Schrage, David Peters, Olivier Bauchau, Dewey Hodges and JVR Prasad, just to name a few.
Dr. Yen has also served many leadership roles throughout his professional career. He was the Chairman of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) North Texas Section in 1981. He served as the Editor in Chief for the Journal of the American Helicopter Society from 1990 to 1992; the Technical Director for AHS’ 1993 Forum. Yen was the General Chairman of the 1999 NATO RTO Conference held in Turkey. In 1996, he received the AHS Honorary Fellowship, which is bestowed upon highly distinguished Society members who have made exceptional leadership, innovative or other meritorious contributions that have significantly advanced Vertical Flight Society (née American Helicopter Society) and the vertical flight community during their career. A few years later, he received the NATO RTO Panel Excellence Award in 2000.
After officially retiring from Bell Helicopter in 1999 following thirty-one years of service, Yen continued to support Bell, US Army, Karan Aircraft, and AVX Aircraft as a technical consultant in Aeromechanics for nearly ten years. As one of his friends remarked, “aeromechanics is in [Yen’s] blood!”
Reflecting on his career and experiences, Dr. Yen always remembers and appreciates the various scholarships that supported his education throughout college and graduate school. To pay it forward, Yen’s children have established the “Jing and Elizabeth Yen Scholarship” at University of Texas at Austin in 2004 on their parents’ 40th wedding anniversary. Dr. Yen has personally made a life-time donation to the Vertical Flight Foundation Scholarship in 2017 on his 80th birthday.
Dr. Yen married Miss Elizabeth Huang in December 1964 while they were both graduate students, he at the University of Pennsylvania and she at Temple University. They have three children, Angela, Albert, and Terry, who received their MD degrees at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. Dr. and Mrs. Yen have six grandsons.