Distinguished Alumni 1999


Dr. Wheeler K. McGregor, ’69


Dr. Wheeler K. McGregor, Jr. is a technical advisor for Sverdrup/AEDC Group.

Dr. McGregor retired as a Senior Technical Specialist with Sverdrup Technology, Inc., AEDC Group, where he had worked in the Aeropropulsion, Technology, and Propulsion Diagnostics Departments since January 1980.

Dr. McGregor’s career began at Wright Patterson Air Force Base as an Armament Branch Trainee where he worked with the first family of analog flight simulation computers from 1951-1952. Dr. McGregor then began his career at AEDC spanning 46 years as he filled various engineering, supervisory, management, and scientific positions until his recent retirement. He still serves as a technical advisor to Sverdrup/AEDC. In addition, Dr. McGregor has served as an adjunct professor in the physics department at the University of Tennessee Space Institute since 1978.

Dr. McGregor’s efforts have been directed to developing the role of visible and ultraviolet observables in rocket motor plumes in the areas of missile surveillance and targeting, missile defense systems, and liquid engine health monitoring. Dr. McGregor’s leadership in this field of study led to a NASA-sponsored project at AEDC to develop the capability to monitor the health of the Space Shuttle Main Engines during ground testing through the use of the Optical Anomaly Detector. This represents only one example of Dr. McGregor’s accomplishments over the course of his career. Dr. McGregor pushed the frontiers of AEDC’s measurement capabilities by implementing technology programs to further develop instrumentation and modeling efforts, including the procurement of instrumentation and modeling technologies from the Russians.

Over his career Dr. McGregor has provided guidance to AEDC technology development planning, participated in national priority programs such as remote surveillance, missile defense, and single-stage-to-orbit systems. He served as the project manager of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization’s Plume Data Center at AEDC, while participating in numerous diagnostic measurement programs throughout the world. He has served as a consultant to NASA/MSFC, and he was instrumental in the implementation of advanced non-intrusive diagnostic techniques for propulsion system test and evaluation.

Dr. McGregor has also been active in technical societies such as AIAA. He has authored over 100 papers in referred journals, and presented technical lectures at numerous government sponsored meetings such as JANNAF and IRIS.

Dr. McGregor completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Tennessee where he earned his B.S. in Engineering Physics in 1951. Dr. McGregor completed graduate level degrees at the University of Tennessee Space Institute where he earned his M.S. in 1961 in Physics, and his Ph.D. in 1969.

Dr. McGregor was born in Akron, Ohio and raised in McMinnville, Tennessee. He now resides in Manchester, Tennessee with his wife, Frankie.