National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

Rolls Royce

Heritage Trust

Full of enthusiasm, Dave Newill gave the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust tour. He began by sharing the history of Rolls-Royce, specifically how Charles Rolls and Sir Frederick Royce started the business, and the influence that James Allison had on the company. The main message Mr. Newill delivered to the Academites was that engineers should go into a museum to use it as a library to learn what went wrong during the design of that specific subject. By learning the mistakes that people have made, one can get a better perspective of how to design innovatively.

Mr. Newill showed the Academites some examples of key ideas to help get his idea across. He discussed the iterations taken by one of Rolls-Royce’s first helicopter gas turbine. He discussed the unique idea of installing grates to block aircraft FOD (foreign object damage), and the unforeseen challenges that it presented. Mr. Newill also shared his insight on the vertical take-off engine that was designed in the 1970’s. Its unconventional design due to its short running time of 90 seconds allowed for the elimination of all oil in this engine, allowing for a very large thrust to weight ratio.

Lift Fan

The Academites reached the entrance of the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 Lifting Fan facility, where they were instructed to put on their stylish steel toed slippers and safety glasses. Tim Unton, a test engineer, guided the tour sharing impressive statistics about the facility. The entire facility was built within 10 months, and won a concrete design award because of its unique structure.

First stop was the control room, where the capabilities of the data acquisition system were explained. The facility is able to monitor thousands of measurements at a time, from temperature to high frequency vibrations. From there, we walked to the testing room, where an actual drive shaft of the F-35 was sitting in the room. The state of the art drive shaft is capable of extreme bending and stretching while still allowing the transfer of all the torque to the lifting fan.

To simulate the jet turbine, the drive shaft is connected to a 40,000 HP electric motor. Also, the Academites walked to the tunnel exhaust, where one could see exit guide vanes that were actually used in testing.


The recently built Electric Power and Control Systems laboratory was the last tour for the Academites. The purpose of this lab is to integrating aircraft power systems and control systems to optimize system architectures. By doing so, Rolls-Royce is able to come up with system level solutions to complex engineering problems that require integration of active control systems, fluid systems, electric and mechanical systems. This is done by having a simulated gas turbine connected to a mock buildup of the aircraft systems, where real time data acquisition is an important factor in the success of this optimization.

Besides the descriptive and information packed tour, Academites were able to talk one-on-one with the tour guides, asking them personal questions such as their education and career background.