NIAR Engineers Receive Title Changes, Ph.D.s

Melinda Laubach has been appointed director of the Aging Aircraft Laboratory at Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR).


Melinda Laubach has been appointed director of the Aging Aircraft Laboratory at Wichita State University’s National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR). Previously Laubach was a senior research engineer for the lab. She began working for NIAR in 2002.

Before coming to NIAR, Laubach worked for Cessna Aircraft Company as a liasion and manufacturing engineer and as an intern at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Melinda has a BS and MS in Aerospace Engineering from Wichita State University and is actively pursuing a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. As Aging Aircraft Lab director, Laubach will oversee all aging aircraft programs/contracts and manage the lab’s budget and 27 employees.

Dr. Gerardo Olivares has been appointed a senior research scientist for the Crash Dynamics and Computational Mechanics laboratories. Previously Dr. Olivares was a research scientist and technical director for the Crash Dynamics laboratory. Dr. Olivares holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in aerospace engineering, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Wichita State University. He has fifteen years of experience in computational and experimental crashworthiness in the aerospace and automotive industries.

Dr. Olivares was hired by NIAR in 2005 as a research scientist. Prior to joining NIAR, Dr. Olivares worked in Frankfurt, Germany as a Systems Performance Engineering Manager for a tier-1 automotive supplier. He was involved in the safety system development process (CAE, component, sled and crash testing) of various automotive platforms. He has also worked for six years at Electromech Technologies in Wichita as a design engineer for various aerospace related projects.

Currently Dr. Olivares conducts computational and experimental crashworthiness research. He also oversees the Computational Mechanics Laboratory projects, budget and staff of fifteen.

Two NIAR employees will graduate from Wichita State this month with Ph.D.s. Beth Clarkson, a research engineer and statistician for the NIAR-based National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP) will receive a Ph.D. in mathematics. The title of her thesis is "Equivalence Testing for Mean Vectors of Multivariate Normal Populations." Clarkson began working for NCAMP in 2005.

Sanjay Sharma, a research engineer in the Composites Laboratory, will receive a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering. His thesis is titled "On the Improvement of Permeability Assessment of Fibrous Materials." Sharma has been a NIAR employee since 2004.

We Recommend