Each year, The Museum of Flight in Seattle honors Pacific Northwest individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of the aerospace industry with its annual Pathfinder Award. The 2009 honorees, Dr. James Joki and John Roundhill, will receive their awards at an Oct.10 banquet.
Joki was a NASA engineer, contributing to the development of the Apollo program Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) — space suits and life support backpacks — as a designer and flight controller. The highlight of his NASA career was during Apollo 11 — July 20, 1969 — ensuring the astronauts’ EMUs were fully functioning for extravehicular activities on the moon.
After receiving a degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering at the University of Washington, Joki applied to NASA for a flight control position in Houston. His enthusiasm and interest in space medicine directed him towards the EMU. He designed, developed, and tested the product with his colleagues, assessing the EMU through experiments simulating zero gravity and deep space conditions. Part of his work was to analyze the EMU and space suit performance flying parabolic trajectories in NASA’s infamous “vomit comet.”
Joki’s work at NASA inspired a transition from engineering to medicine. First he attained a Master’s degree in physiology, then eight years of medical school and residency to become an MD. He is now an OB-GYN doctor practicing at Northwest Hospital in Seattle.
Roundhill began his 37-year career at Boeing in 1965 as a research specialist in acoustics and propulsion technology. He has succeeded in numerous technical and management positions, including those of chief engineer of product development technology for the 737 and 757. Roundhill also worked on the development of new 767 derivatives. During his last five years at Boeing, he served as vice president of Product Strategy and Development for the Commercial Airplane Group, where his team contributed to various new airplane programs such as the 777, 747-8 and the 787.
Since his retirement in 2002, Roundhill remains an active participant in the Boeing 787 programs and product development. He travels to Seattle from his home in northwest Montana where he enjoys restoring antique cars as a hobby.
The Pathfinder Award winners are selected by the Museum of Flight Board of Trustees from among nominees chosen by the museum, the Pacific Northwest Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and representatives of other aviation and aerospace organizations and companies throughout the Northwest.
A wall of honor featuring photos of all Pathfinder Award recipients is on view in the museum’s William M. Allen Theater lobby.
For more information: MuseumOfFlight.org.
Tickets are available to the Pathfinder Awards Banquet. For reservations call 206-764-5709.