About Laurie A. Grindle

Laurie A. Grindle is the director for Programs and Projects at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. Appointed to this position in December 2020, she is responsible for the advocacy, formulation and implementation of the center’s flight projects as well as policy and business management of the center’s programs.

Grindle served as the deputy director for Programs and Projects from February 2017 until being named the acting director in April 2020. She supported the director for Programs and Projects in providing center leadership in implementing agency and center programs and flight research projects in support of NASA’s mission.

Grindle began her career with NASA Armstrong during a 1992 internship in the center’s Aerodynamics Branch, which she followed up in 1993 with a full-time position in the same branch. Grindle served as a principal investigator on the Advanced L-Probe Air Data Integration experiment flown on the F/A-18 Systems Research Aircraft, on which air pressure was used to determine angles of attack and sideslip and traditional air-data measurements. Grindle was an aerospace researcher on the F-16XL Ship 2 Supersonic Laminar Flow Control project and was involved in analysis of space shuttle maneuvers that resulted in expansion of the shuttle’s aeronautical database.

Grindle became chief engineer for the X-43A Hypersonic Research Vehicle (Hyper-X) project in 2004 after serving as the X-43A deputy chief engineer starting in 2001. The X-43A was a 12-foot-long, autonomous aircraft that, when flying at test conditions, demonstrated an “air-breathing” engine called a scramjet. In 2005, Grindle became chief engineer of the Dryden Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) Business Unit.  While in that role, she monitored technical aspects of NASA UAV projects, including X-48B Blended Wing Body low-speed vehicle and Global Hawk projects, to ensure that objectives were met. From 2007 to 2011, Grindle was the NASA project manager for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle abort test booster (ATB) project, during which she was responsible for management of NASA’s interests in the project.

From 2011 to 2013, Grindle was the associate mission director for Aeronautics at Dryden. She assisted the Aeronautics mission director in the management and technical direction of the center’s aeronautics activities to ensure the effective and timely support of manned and unmanned flight research programs.

Before serving as deputy director for Programs, Grindle was the project manager for the NASA Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Integration in the National Airspace System (NAS) project from 2013 to 2017.  She was responsible for the execution of the $290 million project designed to conduct technology development to reduce technical barriers related to the safety and operational challenges associated with enabling routine UAS access to the NAS.

Grindle earned Bachelor of Science degrees in aeronautical and mechanical engineering in 1993 from the University of California, Davis. She earned an Engineer-in-Training license in 1994. She received a Master of Science in mechanical engineering in 1998 from California State University, Fresno.

Grindle is the recipient of a 2018 NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, a 2013 NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, and a 2005 NASA Exceptional Service Medal, among others. Also in 2013, Grindle was selected as a Women@NASA honoree.


Getting to know Laurie

A few things people may not know about you:

  • My father and brother are both lawyers and my mother is a judge. By becoming an engineer, I forged a different path from the family business.
  • I have a private pilot’s license and instrument rating. At 18 I piloted a Cessna 172 from Los Angeles, CA to Lansing, MI and back to take my cousin back home after vacation. Those early flying experiences gave me an appreciation for the importance of our National Airspace System.
  • I have some diverse interests. In additional to having a pilot’s license, I’m a certified divemaster, ride a unicycle, have been skydiving, and walked 267 miles in Spain with my mother for her 80th (125 miles) and 81st (142 miles) birthdays.
  • I did internships each summer that I was in undergraduate school. My last summer internship was for NASA at its Dryden’s Flight Research Center. After I graduated, I started working at the Center full-time, which was renamed to Armstrong Flight Research Center in 2014.

Advice your would like to share with the next generation of female leaders:

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of volunteering for things. I offered my help with two assignments that became pivotal to my career.
  • Be open to change and be willing to do things outside your comfort zone.
  • For college students, use the summers to work in different areas to figure out in which aspects of your major you would enjoy working.
  • Know yourself and be true to yourself when making decisions about your career. If the role you currently have isn’t really what you want, look for ways to make a change to get there. Talk to your supervisor or others to get ideas. Not everyone gets lucky to have a supervisor that looks out for them, so you have to look out for yourself. Pursue short term assignments or other opportunities at work to gain a variety of experiences.