Mr. Clay Colley

Principal Research Scientist IV, Rotorcraft Systems Engineering & Simulation Center (RSESC)


Mr. Colley has a B.S. degree and a M.S. degree in aerospace engineering from Auburn University. He has over 25 years of experience in the management, design, analysis, manufacturing, and test of flight hardware for fixed-wing, rotary-wing, space-flight and missile applications, including DOD, NASA, and commercial space launch systems.

Mr. Colley is considered a subject matter expert in the stress analysis and airworthiness of flight vehicle structures. At The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) Rotorcraft Systems Engineering and Simulation Center (RSESC), he has supported the U.S. Army in airworthiness determinations for aged and crash damaged aircraft, including the UH-60 Blackhawk, CH-47 Chinook, AH-64 Apache, OH-58 Kiowa Warrior, MQ-1C Gray Eagle, and UH-72 Lakota. Stress, dynamics, fatigue, fracture, and innovative damage tolerance analyses have been performed on airframe structures, landing gear, transmission components, rotor blades, and other mission related equipment for the Army's fleet. For UAH's NASA tasks, Mr. Colley was instrumental in the certification of the flight worthiness of the FASTSAT and NANOSAIL-D satellites launched into orbit in 2010. He performed all of the stress and dynamics analysis of these flight structures and supported flight qualification testing as the test engineer. He also provided NASA with subject matter expertise with the development of the structures and thermal subsystems for the ARES I Launch Vehicle. Prior to joining UAH, Mr. Colley served as Chief Engineer for Aerodyne, a small business that supports several Army Aviation programs. He was responsible for leading a talented team of engineers, scientists, and professionals in the development of products and services for various Department of Defense and commercial organizations. Mr. Colley also has a vast amount of experience in the development and flight testing of launch vehicles. While at Battelle Memorial Institute, he served as Program Manager for the development of reentry vehicles for the U.S. Army, the Missile Defense Agency, and the U.S. Navy. He was responsible for the overall management of the design, procurement, manufacturing, assembly, test, integration, and delivery of hardware and services in support of these flight test programs. He served as a Senior Lead Structural Engineer for the Delta III and Delta IV Launch Vehicle Programs while working at McDonnell Douglas Aerospace. He led a multi-disciplined team of engineers and technicians in the conduct of the design, development, and manufacturing of the next generation of expendable launch vehicles for the U.S. Air Force. He performed stress, buckling, dynamic, fatigue, and fracture analyses on multiple components associated with these programs. Mr. Colley also served as Lead Structural Engineer on the Space Station and Spacelab Programs. He provided technical guidance to a team of junior engineers in the development of the primary and secondary structure for the Pre-Integrated Truss Structure Segment 1, Pre-Integrated Truss Structure Segment 2, Propulsion Module, Node 1 Habitat Module, and the Spacelab primary and secondary structure. During this time frame, he supported sixteen (16) successful flight missions aboard the Space Shuttle. Mr. Colley served as a junior engineer at Bell Helicopter Textron, Incorporated, supporting several commercial and DOD helicopter programs, including the AH-1W, OH-58D, and the ACAP.


  • M.S., Aerospace Engineering, Auburn University
  • B.S., Aerospace Engineering, Auburn University

Honors & Awards

  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration Group Achievement Award (6 Times), 1990-2010
  • Key Contributor Award, Battelle Memorial Institute (2 Times), 2002-2003
  • Award for Excellence (2 Times), United States Navy, 1999-2000
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration Certificate of Appreciation Award (3 Times) 1990-1997
  • McDonnell Douglas Aerospace Certificate of Appreciation Award (2 Times), 1990-1997
  • McDonnell Douglas Aerospace Employee Recognition Award (2 Times), 1990-1997