Early in his career, Dan Marren was among those at what was then known as the Naval Surface Warfare Center in White Oak, Maryland, charged with improving offensive and defensive systems on sensitive national defense programs.
Their success had historic implications.
“The Pentagon program manager traveled to White Oak and showed us a brief going to President Ronald Reagan that described the new capability we helped enable,” Marren said. “Then, shortly after, President Reagan had a meeting with Mikhail Gorbachev in the USSR and the Berlin Wall fell. In subsequent years, information was made public about how our defensive and offensive systems were superior and, in part, led to that great event.
“Talk about motivational.”
This stands as just one of the many highlights Marren has amassed during his career at White Oak.
Marren, who was Arnold Engineering Development Complex White Oak site director, retired March 28. However, Marren said labeling him as “retired” would be a misnomer, as he has no intentions to leave the hypersonics field behind.
“Yes, I will retire from the federal government after 36 years of civilian service to our great nation,” he said. “On day one after I leave, I will still be hard at work helping the Office of the Secretary of Defense and NASA achieve their destiny in hypersonics.”
Marren added his time at White Oak and those he worked alongside throughout the years prepared him for his next step.
“I owe every experience and ability and my expertise to these fine people and the experiences we have shared,” he said, noting he hopes to consult for the government and others. “It’s time for me to lean forward and give back by putting that experience to use to see hypersonics across the finish line.”
Marren began his White Oak career in 1984. He worked as a co-op student in the Naval Surface Warfare Center, or NSWC, Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 while pursuing his degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Cincinnati. After graduating, he landed a full-time job at the NSWC. Marren ran tests at the Center during the day and attended graduate school at the University of Maryland in the evenings, earning his master’s in engineering management with a specialty in high temperature gas dynamics in 1992.
In 1995, the Base Realignment and Closure commission closed the Navy White Oak site and threatened to close Tunnel 9. But, through the efforts of many, Tunnel 9 was kept open and became an Air Force test facility in 1997. The facility has since been operated by AEDC.
Marren remained onboard throughout the transition. He said he has had “four separate careers” at White Oak. First, Marren was a technical test engineer, which allowed him to observe and work with some of the most advanced systems. Next, he served as a test coordinator for programs, during which time he got to travel to test facilities around the country and first became acquainted with AEDC. Later, he worked in the technical, program and personnel management of White Oak. In this role, Marren said he developed relationships with personnel from technical agencies, other governmental agencies, legislators and industry leaders.
He became director of the AEDC White Oak site in 2004.
Col. Keith Roessig has served as Marren’s supervisor since assuming the role of AEDC Test Operations Division chief in July 2018. Roessig said Marren has not only directly supported test execution but, due to the proximity of the White Oak facility to Washington, D.C., he has also been instrumental as a liaison for AEDC to DOD-level agencies located in the nation’s capital.
“He’s been a tremendous help in communicating what AEDC brings to hypersonic systems across multiple test capabilities and is able to communicate that right there to the national capital region personnel without the need for reoccurring TDYs,” Roessig said. “That has saved AEDC a lot of time and money.”
“He’s obviously been a tremendous help, not only to AEDC, but to me as I took over the job, so, while he is leaving government service, I know he’ll be in the community in other capacities,” Roessig said. “I wish him well and success in his future endeavors.”
AEDC Commander Col. Jeffrey Geraghty echoed this sentiment, adding Marren’s contributions to AEDC have been invaluable.
“Dan has contributed so much of his life to national defense, and those who worked for him or with him owe him a great debt of gratitude for his service,” Geraghty said. “I’m hopeful he’ll continue to apply his vast store of knowledge toward challenging technical problems and valuable mentorship to the next generation.
“Godspeed to Dan in all his future pursuits!”