Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 3

This is the third volume in the series of Memorial Tributes compiled by the National Academy of Engineering as a personal remembrance of the lives and outstanding achievements of its members and international members. These volumes are intended to stand as an enduring record of the many contributions of engineers and engineering to the benefit of humankind. In most cases, the authors of the tributes are contemporaries or colleagues who had personal knowledge of the interests and the engineering accomplishments of the deceased.

This is the third volume in the series of Memorial Tributes compiled by the National Academy of Engineering as a personal remembrance of the lives and outstanding achievements of its members and international members. These volumes are intended to stand as an enduring record of the many contributions of engineers and engineering to the benefit of humankind. In most cases, the authors of the tributes are contemporaries or colleagues who had personal knowledge of the interests and the engineering accomplishments of the deceased.

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    To Chronicle Adequately the contributions Frank Allen Cleveland has made to the nation and to his profession one immediately recognizes the necessity to talk to many people. Al, as he was known to his associates, brought to each new engineering responsibility a talent that is all too rare in otherwise accomplished engineers—he listened well. Using this ability in his field of aeronautical research and design development, he sought and made welcome the contributions of a growing host of specialists as each new system concept came into being.

    In today's world of ever more extensive systems, his associates miss Al Cleveland most sorely. All remember his continually eager approach to each new challenge and the life full of accomplishments that they shared with him.

    At his death on August 12, 1983, which was attributed to complications stemming from open-heart surgery, Al was sixty years old and appeared to be still ascending to the peak of his high-performance potential. He began his career by attending Stanford University where he earned an A.B. in mechanical engineering in 1943 and a master's degree in aeronautical engineering a year later. His outstanding record at Stanford was recognized by his election to Tau Beta Pi.

    Although he was born in Dayton, Ohio, on January 31, 1923, Al spent a good part of his ''growing up'' in Madera, California; thus it was somewhat surprising that he selected the Lewis Research Center of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (now the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) as his first technical home. It is likely that the facilities and remarkable reputation of this laboratory attracted him, as did the challenge of studying and participating in the emerging development of turbine engines for aircraft. (One of his first papers dealt with the use of afterburners for turbojets in the years when even the engines themselves were novelties.)

    Following approximately two years at the Lewis Research Center, Al joined Lockheed as an aerodynamicist with early assignments in the advanced design department. He immediately demonstrated his eager, almost compulsive dedication to the use of the most advanced state-of-the-art techniques, whether they applied to the products themselves or to the techniques for analyzing product capabilities.

    During this period at Lockheed, Cleveland was the only aerodynamicist assigned to one of its proposal programs whose particular requirement was to provide a recoverable pilotless flying test bed for the ramjet being developed for the Bomarc missile. The ramjet concept fit well with Al's experience at Lewis, but the airframe design and the optimization of the airframe elements intrigued him even more. They gave him a chance to try out several relatively primitive analytical techniques, many of them his own, involving the use of early computers for aid in optimization.

    He was undaunted by his first "computer" conclusion that his small test vehicle should have 7,000 external fuel tanks! Once his tentative programming was properly sorted out and he had survived the joshing of his associates, his conceptual contributions proved to be solid, and the test vehicle became an outstanding success. The program flew 100 test flights using approximately a dozen vehicles—all of which obtained ramjet data near Mach 3. One of the flights actually exceeded Mach 4 at approximately 100,000 feet of altitude and properly recovered itself—no small feat, considering all of these flights occurred before the end of 1951.

    Al Cleveland's growing systems consciousness and conceptual acumen led to his assignment as program manager of the successful competition and following studies for the Air Force to explore nuclear power for bombardment aircraft. These studies were initially carried on in Lockheed's Burbank facilities; they were later transferred to the new division established in Marietta, Georgia. Cleveland transferred to the Georgia plant in 1956 to be the pioneering chief of advanced design, and the Air Force nuclear-powered aircraft study transferred with him.

    At the Georgia plant, Al initiated the buildup of an exceptionally creative advanced aircraft design and technical team, a team that won almost every major competitive proposal effort it engaged in during the late 1950s through the 1960s. Under his stewardship, the
    Lockheed-Georgia Company won design, development, manufacturing, and test programs for the following:
    • Utility Four-engine Jet Aircraft Program, U.S. Air Force—This program was later converted to the development of the commercial JetStar based on an original twin-engine prototype developed in Burbank.
    • C-141 Logistic Transport Program—This aircraft was the first all-Georgia design. To maintain continuity and the proper technical attention, Cleveland was asked to assume responsibility as assistant chief engineer of the company and engineering program manager. By almost any exacting standards, the management of the program and the successful fulfillment of all its technical requirements attest to the excellence of Al's meticulous attention to the total system. The still growing and increasingly outstanding record of the C-141 in its service to the Air Force reinforces the conviction that Al did his part extremely well. All agree that it was his airplane.
    • XV4A VTOL Hummingbird Research Program—This test vehicle demonstrated the feasibility of an augmented thrust, vertical-rising jet aircraft before the successful direct-lift Harrier was demonstrated in England.
    • C-5A Heavy Logistic Transport Program—The C-5A, despite its impenetrable problems with the procurement system, was a nearly perfect technical solution for the massive collection of requirements it was supposed to meet. This airplane was also the product of Cleveland's advanced design activities. As a result of its new reincarnation for the Air Force, it will finally serve the nation at the performance level made possible by his original design.

    Yet perhaps Cleveland's greatest talent, which was fully demonstrated during the Georgia period of his career and certainly recognized by many who continue in the aerospace field today, was his ability to select, inspire, and train key subordinates, many of whom have moved on to substantial careers of their own.

    Based on his contributions at the Georgia plant, Al Cleveland was promoted to the corporate position of vice-president of engineering to oversee the quality of effort and enhance the creativity of all Lockheed engineers and scientists involved in corporate-wide development programs. In addition, it was his task to evaluate the total engineering temper and capability of the staff. By his own volition, he extended this responsibility to include an assessment of the contributions that the corporation and its technical executives were making in support of the educational institutions that were producing the next generation of practitioners.

    All of this fit well with Al's almost constant attention to the vitality of the profession through the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). There was hardly a time in his whole career that he did not actively support this association—with particular emphasis on its student branches. He served as chairman of the Los Angeles section of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (a predecessor of AIAA) in 1954. He was honored in 1970 by the invitation to deliver the Wright Brothers Lecture to AIAA members. He served as
    director-at-large, as chairman of the Honors and Awards Committee (spearheading a complete awards program overhaul), and as vice-president for technical activities.

    These contributions resulted in his election to the national board of governors, and, in 1978, he became president of AIAA. During his tenure as president, he became even more active with the student branches (a policy determined by his own instincts rather than by the normal presidential responsibilities of the institute), and he expanded substantially the group's activities with international associations having similar goals of technical excellence.

    Of the many important contributions Al Cleveland made to Lockheed while vice-president of engineering, the one that will probably have the most lasting impact was his creation of an annual awards program for those engineers throughout the corporation who had made the most notable contribution of ideas, specific tasks well done, procedures or techniques improved, or dollars saved by some technical advance. Under the program, the recipients of the awards from each of Lockheed's divisions are brought to Lockheed headquarters as a part of the corporate annual meeting and are introduced to the directors and the stockholders who attend. The effects on the individual who receives the award, the management of the division selecting him, and the corporate management and board are impressive, and they serve as a constant positive reminder to the rest of the organization of its dependence on innovative, alert engineering. Al passed away while serving as Lockheed's corporate vice-president of engineering.

    Al Cleveland was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1980 and almost immediately began to participate in academy activities through the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) of the National Research Council. He served as chairman of the Military Aviation Panel during the ASEB workshop of 1980, which addressed NASA's role in aeronautics. He was a member of ASEB from the summer of 1981 until his illness prevented him from participating further in the board's activities.

    In reliving Cleveland's approach to each new task with those who were closely involved with him, one senses a universal awe of his enthusiastic immersion in the problem at hand. Yet this quality was not only a technical drive; it also included many social endeavors. He sang in his church choir and debated his divergent views of the church creed with his minister. His wife Freddie, a small-boat sailor of national caliber, involved him in racing. The yacht club has yet to find a peer for planning, scheduling, and operating a weekend racing schedule.

    The universal description of his approach contains such words as complete dedication, penetration in depth, objectivity, ability to listen, fair but not precipitous judgment, initiative in giving credit where it was deserved, and an apparently infinite capability for accepting and understanding details. Impressive as this was, it was not an overbearing talent; his humor, consideration, and, above all, objective listening brought out the very best in all who had tasks to perform with him.

    Al Cleveland was an engineer in the broadest sense; he showed the technical community and the world how to implement concepts that required technical talents from a multitude of disciplines. He left the aerospace world with a legacy of how to get the job done that will stand as a brilliant goal for all those who follow. People who have known and worked with Al Cleveland are grateful beyond measure for the experience.

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