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Muirhead back as chief engineer
Muirhead back as chief engineer

Brian Muirhead will return to JPL from his assignment as chief architect and program systems engineer for NASA’s Constellation Program and be reinstated as JPL’s chief engineer.


Brian Muirhead is returning as JPL's chief engineer. The chief engineer will now be elevated to an Executive Council position, and will continue as a joint appointment by the associate director for flight projects and mission success and the director for engineering and science. Muirhead will report to the associate director for flight projects and mission success, Chris Jones.

Muirhead has 32 years of broad technical experience and expertise in mechanical systems, flight system development and systems engineering. He led the design, development, test and launch activities of the Mars Pathfinder flight system and served as Pathfinder’s project manager after its successful landing on Mars in 1997. He was the Deep Impact project manager through critical design review, and served as the chief engineer for Mars Science Laboratory.

In addition to carrying out the existing charter of the Office of the Chief Engineer, Muirhead will also serve as the Lab focal point for working engineering problems that require cross-program, cross-center and/or agency-wide attention. He will build on and strengthen relationships with other centers and NASA Headquarters in engineering areas important to JPL’s mission success. His role also includes working closely with projects, line management and Lab leadership to identify, validate and apply methods to improve performance and reliability/quality while reducing and managing costs and risk.

Working with Jones and with projects and line management, the new chief engineer will work to strengthen system engineering as a core competency of the Laboratory and keep JPL at the forefront of the industry in this discipline. Working with the associate director for project formulation and strategy, Firouz Naderi, and the line organizations, Muirhead’s charge will be to strengthen the cadre of mission and instrument architects who continue the Laboratory’s tradition of creativity.

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