After 32 years, the Test and Evaluation Command’s Redstone Test Center bids farewell to Dr. Mike Hale, senior electronics engineer.
Hale’s career began in 1983 when he joined the Dynamic Test Division team where his technical skills were quickly recognized. He became the lead engineer for dynamic test control, instrumentation, signal analysis and vibration schedule development and was a member of several independent analysis teams for weapon systems issues. He enjoyed the diversity of his tasks over the course of his career.
“Each day seemed to bring new challenges and opportunities,” Hale said.
Supervisors recognized his capacity not only as an engineer, but also as a team leader, according to David Elkins, Environment and Component Test Directorate director. However, he decided early in his career to pass on opportunities for advancement in management and set his sights on excelling on the more technical aspects of his chosen career field. To do so, Hale pursued advanced degrees while progressing in his role as a dynamic tester, ultimately earning his doctorate in electrical engineering in 1998 from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Hale has worked with industry and academia for more than a decade on multi-degree-of-freedom vibration tests. He developed and refined M-DOF control strategies, defined how to measure M-DOF test quality and published the methods as military standards.
“Dr. Hale is one of those rare individuals that can take a very complex system and break it down into simpler pieces so that he understands it and makes it better,” explained Jesse Porter, Dynamic Test Division chief. “He has never been intimidated by complexity.”
The experience of working alongside his colleagues on this project has been a highlight for him. “Having had the opportunity to work with many talented engineers and scientists, both within RTC and across the country, has to be at the top of the list,” Hale said.
He and his peers developed multiple-axis tests that reduced test setup and run times by a factor of three. The multiple-axis tests are better correlated to actual field exposure than single-axis testing, resulting in more realistic tests, Hale said.
He believes that better testing leads to better equipment for the end user.
“The work we do directly benefits the Soldier in ensuring that they are provided with well-qualified systems from both functional and safety perspectives,” Hale said. “This has made my career very satisfying.”
Most recently, he is proud of his contributions to the Large Capacity Six Degree of Freedom Facility. This state-of-the-art facility provides the DoD with the new capability to conduct vibration tests on large payloads. The LC6DOF handles payloads weighing up to 10,000 pounds whereas previous 6-DOF exciters handled payloads weighing up to 1,000 pounds.
Leading up to his work on the LC6DOF, Hale served as the principal researcher for the development of a $10 million, vibro-acoustic facility consisting of multiple acoustic modulators and a 6-DOF hydraulic exciter in a reverberant chamber. The facility is used to address systems that must survive the harsh environments of super-sonic, fixed-wing, captive carry, or space launch vehicles in which high sound pressure levels, and low frequency vibrations are transferred through the structure.
In addition to his work on these projects, Hale has published more than 25 technical papers and has been heavily involved in the publication of military standards, to include MIL-STD-810 and North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Allied Environmental Conditions and Test Publications. He also regularly serves the DoD and the commercial market as a consultant, technical reviewer, instructor and working group team member.
Prolific opportunities and accomplishments like these are no surprise given his attitude and approach to his work.
“Always be prepared,” Hale said. “Do your research and planning as required to address whatever situation or problem that you are faced with.”
This perspective has led to a track record of excellence, evident by his numerous DoD award nominations. Moreover, Hale is a three-time recipient of the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology’s “Maurice Simpson Technical Editors Award,” an annual award for excellence in technical writing in the field of Design Test and Evaluation.
“Dr. Hale embodies what we desire for ourselves when we embark on a career,” Elkins said. “Looking back, you can see that he challenged himself and those around him through the pursuit of excellence by continually growing throughout his career.”
As Hale prepares for the next phase of his life, he plans to stay nearby as he looks forward to novel endeavors with his family.
“I think of retirement as a reset, allowing time for pursuing new and different challenges,” Hale said. “My family and I have made Huntsville our home. We are looking to the future, and all that the North Alabama region offers, with great excitement.”
Although he is moving on, Hale leaves behind a legacy. Through his direction, guidance and tireless mentoring of engineers and technicians over the course of his career, he has ensured the next generation of testers stands ready to continue the dynamic test mission of RTC.