College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Rick Rezabek inducted to the Dept. of Aerospace Engineering Hall of Distinguished Alumni

Rick Rezabek
Rick Rezabek headshot
Rick Rezabek

Rick Rezabek, a longtime aerospace engineer in the defense industry and department supporter, has been inducted into the Department of Aerospace Engineering Hall of Distinguished Alumni. He was honored in a department banquet April 6. 

Rezabek is a 1980 ISU aerospace engineering graduate and has been a member of the department’s Industrial Advisory Council since 2014.  

Department Chair Alric Rothmayer awarding Rick Rezabek with plaque
Department Chair, Alric Rothmayer, inducting Rick Rezabek into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni

After receiving his bachelor’s degree Rezabek was quickly hired into Lockheed’s Skunk Works Organization. There, he worked directly in a number of development projects, from concept definition through full-scale development and production. He gained experience as an aerodynamicist and systems engineer with several air vehicle development programs, including the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Strike Fighter and F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft, and Dark Star ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) Unpiloted Aerial Vehicle (UAV) platforms. He performed weapon separation analyses, and flight testing for the F-117 during its full-scale development period. He was the chief engineer of Lockheed Martin’s ASTOVL (Advanced Short Take-Off/Vertical Landing) program and the Joint Strike Fighter program’s X-35 concept demonstrator aircraft from 1993-2000, with responsibility for all technical engineering of the three X-35 variants; and later served as the X-35 product manager from 2000-2001. 

Rezabek family
Rezabek Family

He partnered to form Black Ram Engineering LLC, an aerospace engineering services company, in 2001, along with several other engineering and development companies. Black Ram was a major contributor to several other programs, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, Boeing InsituRQ-21A Blackjack UAV, and Northrop Grumman’s X-47 UCAS (Unmanned Combat Air System) vehicle. 

Rezabek is a part-time consultant and stewards an award-winning 1937 Stinson SR-9F Reliant as pilot and owner.