Michael P. Thomson
Michael P. Thomson is Director of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. Named to the post in September 2011, Thomson manages operations and missions on a suite of unique and highly modified aircraft in support of the agency’s Earth Science mission. These aircraft, both manned and unmanned, support worldwide field campaigns devoted to a variety of environmental science issues, including tropical storm development, solid Earth deformation, ozone loss, and climate change research.
Thomson previously served as Deputy Director for Flight Operations at NASA Dryden for six years, responsible for assisting the directorate chief in planning, coordinating and directing all the engineering and technical support functions and providing technical guidance and direction through subordinate supervisors in the Flight Crew and Operations Engineering branches and the Aircraft Maintenance Division.
Thomson brought a wide range of technical and management experience to his present position, having served the center for more than two decades as an aerospace engineer specializing in verification and validation of airborne flight critical control systems. He also served as a flight test engineer in a variety of research aircraft, partnering with the test pilot in the planning, development, coordination and execution of research missions.
Thomson came to NASA Dryden in 1989 as a senior software engineer with the military avionics division of Honeywell, Inc., developing test procedures for verification & validation testing of the flight control system for the X-29 aircraft. He then served for three years with PRC, Inc. as lead flight systems engineer for the development of research flight control system software for the F-18 High Alpha Research Vehicle at NASA Dryden.
After transferring to a civil service position in 1994, Thomson worked on a wide variety of flight research projects, including service as chief engineer on the F-15 Advanced Control Technology for Integrated Vehicles project. He led the advocacy and formulation of the Intelligent Flight Control online learning follow-on program, and provided expert consultation to NASA, the U.S. Air Force and industry in the verification and validation of airborne flight-critical control systems.
Upon being advanced to a supervisory position in 1999, Thomson served in a range of increasingly responsible engineering management posts, including assignments as deputy chief of the Flight Systems Branch of Dryden's Research Engineering Directorate, chief of the Operations Engineering branch in Flight Operations and as deputy director of the Research Engineering Directorate.
Thomson earned his bachelor of science in electrical engineering at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1985. A co-author on seven technical papers published by NASA Dryden, he was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2005.