CLEVELAND (WJW) – It is something that one day might help electric-powered airplanes cool their systems without fluids or make space capsules dissipate heat efficiently as they travel to mars.

Thermal acoustics were pioneered by Greg Swift at Los Alamos National Laboratories.

Now, it’s Rodger Dyson and his team’s turn at NASA Glenn to make it bigger and work more efficiently.

Dyson says it’s just fun to use physics, math and a wrench or two to make something that not only physically cools things….but is REALLY cool.

A thought that wouldn’t have really occurred to him when he was trying to make the football team at North Olmsted high.

“Doctor John Adamcik, who was a very high-level person here at NASA, his daughter was in my class and for that one year he came and taught physics at our high school,” Dyson said. “He was more like a drill sergeant equations on the board he was a super genius way top one percent genius equations on the board, and it felt like and it made me want to rise to the challenge I guess.” 

Dyson says that experience put college firmly in his future.

And for him, the way to get there was through the National Guard, and at 18 years old the Army opened a different world.

“Basic training was so hard for me at the time it would be easier now because I’m more mature but back then it was definitely a challenge,” Dyson said.

But that challenge, Dyson says, made going to college easier.

Because he says if the Army doesn’t do any other thing, it does teach you how to gain focus, and that focus energized him.

“It was an experience seeing how adults functioned together working as a team, and I feel that it elevated my maturity and accelerated everything about me.”

It accelerated Dyson to the point he finished undergrad in two years and start his Ph.D. before he was 21, and now working for NASA, he’s the holder of more than a dozen patents for everything from thermal acoustic devices, devices to simulate conditions on the planet Venus, and compact electrical power systems for spacecraft just to name a few.

A lot of the power devices developed by Dyson and his team are being studied and tested by others right now to find practical ways of using them here on Earth.

“It enables new applications, you can have trucks, you can replace diesel-powered trucks with these electric motors, you can have electric trucks. There are whole new markets developing for vertical takeoff, you can have flying taxis, there is a whole new set of applications once you can have megawatt power in a small footprint,” Dyson said.

Dyson says that the military isn’t for everyone, but for him, it lit a spark that showed him teamwork, focus and helped motivate him to continue to push boundaries in his life and his work.

And working at NASA affirms that desire to continue to push boundaries and give others a chance to stand on his shoulders and continue to move things forward.

“I haven’t worked in just one area; I’ve worked in so many different areas. It’s watching other teams feeling proud of their accomplishments from things that I started. It’s like with my kids, it’s not just one specific thing that my kids do you know that you raised them and you’re proud of them,”  Dyson said.