For exemplary leadership in aeronautics teaching and research, development of significant state-of-the-art aerodynamic testing techniques, and outstanding contributions to public service.
From his early work on unsteady flows, aerodynamic heating, and magnetic suspension systems for aerodynamic testing, to his high speed, high Reynolds Number investigations and contributions in the field of engine/airframe interactions, Eugene Covert has always led the way in unusual techniques and innovative solutions in aerodynamic investigations. His creative multidisciplinary approach to the analysis of aerodynamic problems is well known and has been an asset to the Nation’s aircraft programs, as well as to the students in his laboratory.
Covert joined the Naval Air Development Center in 1948 as a flight test engineer after completing his Bachelors and Masters Degrees in aeronautical engineering at the University of Minnesota. In 1952 he moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Aerophysics Laboratory as a research engineer in the Naval Supersonic Laboratory and after completing his D.Sc. at MIT was elevated to Director of the Laboratory.
In 1963, he was appointed Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and has been with MIT since that time, serving as Department Head for a period of time. He has taught numerous courses in aeronautics and conducted research related to testing at subsonic, supersonic and hypersonic speeds. In 1992 he was appointed as the inaugural holder of the T. Wilson Professor of Aeronautics Chair, and in 1996 retired as the T. Wilson Professor Emeritus.
Covert has been a consultant to numerous government laboratories and industries. He has served the greater aeronautics community in many ways.
In 1972 he was appointed the Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force, and in 1986 was named to the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. He was named to the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board for which he also served as Chair from 1982 to 1986. He has also served on the NASA Aeronautics Advisory Committee, the OSTP Aeronautical Technology Policy Review Committee, and the National Research Council Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board. Since 1994, he has been a member of the Air Force Executive Independent Review Team for the F-22 and the F-35 engine development programs.
Covert has been the recipient of such honors as the U.S. Air Force Exceptional Service Medal, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Reed Aeronautics Award and AIAA Ground Testing Award, the prestigious AGARD von Karman Medal, the AIAA Durand Lectureship on Public Policy, and is an AIAA Honorary Fellow.