AFRL Engineer receives high honor

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — Dr. Khanh Pham, a senior aerospace engineer for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate, will receive the 70th Annual Arthur S. Flemming Award for Basic Science.

Established in 1948, the award honors federal employees for significant contributions to the federal government in three areas:  basic science; applied science, engineering and mathematics; and managerial or legal achievement.

Pham, who joined AFRL in 2004, has been involved in a variety of research activities with the Department of Defense, academia and industry across the space enterprise.

“Khanh has made pioneering contributions in the fields of satellite command and control autonomy and military communications,” said Maj. Gen. William Cooley, AFRL commander.

Pham, who possesses knowledge in various technical areas, leads strategic research investigations and studies.

Born in Vietnam, his parents served in the U.S. backed South Vietnamese government and became prisoners of war from 1975 to 1984. Under the Special Release Re-education Center Detainee Resettlement Program, also known as the Humanitarian Operation, he came to the U.S. in the early 1990s. At the time, he was a second-year college student from Saigon, who barely knew any English.

Pham offers the following advice to anyone facing a difficult situation or a new challenge: “the important thing to do is to figure out a place for yourself and then do something about it.”

Pham learned English and attended Lincoln High School in Nebraska. In the late 1990s, he earned bachelor and master’s science degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Nebraska, and in 2004, Pham received his Doctorate from the University of Notre Dame.

Today, he researches command, control, and communications autonomy. Pham says he appreciates AFRL’s diversity and is thrilled with the opportunity to drive innovation and change in his fields of research.

He recommends that young researchers be open-minded and willing to explore various types of research.

“Do not close any doors on research ideas and opportunities because you do not know what you want to do until you try everything. Even if something does not sound right, do not shut it out completely.”

“If you stay motivated and seek out opportunities to develop yourself, then everything will work out,” said Pham.

The award winners will be honored by the Arthur S. Flemming Awards Commission June 3 during a ceremony at George Washington University in Washington D.C.

The Air Force Research Laboratory announces that Dr. Khanh Pham has received the 2018 Arthur S. Flemming Award in Basic Science.(U.S. Air Force photo)