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Staff Directory

Barbara H. Kenny

Phone: (703) 292-4667
Room: 581 N
Organization:   (IIP)
Title:  PFI:AIR Program Director
Website: http://

Program Responsibilities:
Partnerships for Innovation: Accelerating Innovation Research- Technology Translation (PFI: AIR-TT)


Dr. Barbara Kenny received her BSEE from Cornell University in 1982 on a four-year Air Force ROTC scholarship.  She was then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and stationed at Ellsworth, AFB, South Dakota, as an electrical engineer performing facilities engineering work.  She earned her Professional Engineering license in 1986 and left active duty for graduate school at the University of Texas-Austin where she earned an MSEE in 1988 with an emphasis on power systems.  She then moved to Cleveland, Ohio to work for NASA at the Glenn Research Center in the Power and On-board Propulsion Division in aerospace power systems.  Under NASA sponsorship she earned her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2001 when she also received the Grainger Outstanding Power Engineering Student Award. Her thesis topic was direct torque control of a high-speed induction machine, designed for aerospace applications.  While at NASA Glenn, she developed the permanent magnet motor controls for a combined flywheel energy storage and attitude control system. This work was recognized with the Glenn Research Center's top engineering award to the flywheel team.  She was selected to attend the NASA Leadership Development Program in 2005 and spent six months at NASA Headquarters as part of this program.  In 2006 she joined the Engineering Research Center (ERC) program in the Division of Engineering Education and Centers at NSF.  As part of the ERC program, she was the lead program officer for several Engineering Research Centers and a Nanoscale Science and Technology Center, she led the ERC Energy, Infrastructure and Sustainability Cluster, and she managed the post-award oversight system within the ERC program.  In 2010, she received the NSF Director's Award for Program Management Excellence. In May 2013 she transitioned to the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) where she is currently the Program Director for the Partnerships for Innovation: Accelerating Innovation Research (PFI:AIR) program. PFI:AIR offers opportunities for universities to leverage prior NSF research award results into potential market applications, see She is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and an ABET Program Evaluator.

In parallel with her civilian career, she continued her Air Force career as a Reservist until her retirement in 2006 as a Lieutenant Colonel.  She spent three years as a Reservist Instructor at the Air Force Institute of Technology and 17 years as a Reserve Force Officer with the Selective Service System, the final two of which as a Detachment Commander.  Her military awards include the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and the Selective Service System Exceptional Service Medal.

Off-duty she enjoys traveling and sports such as running, hiking, skiing and SCUBA.