In 1948 Gerhard Neumann (1917-1997) began work as a test engineer for the General Electric Aircraft Gas Turbine Division, located in Lynn, Massachusetts. There he drove many innovations in jet engine design, most famously the "variable stator" that fine-tunes air compression at the inlet. His J79 jet engine enabled aircraft such as the F-104 to reach air speeds of Mach 2; The development team (Neumann, Neil Burgess, and Clarence L. Johnson of Lockheed) were awarded the Collier Trophy for 1958. Yet even as a Vice President of General Electric, he piloted various jet fighters during the 1960s to personally understand the engines' performance. The MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department’s Gerhard Neumann Hangar is named after him.
Created at the bequest of Institute of Aeronautical Sciences founder, Guggenheim Medal recipient, and MIT alumnus Lester Gardner, for more than 50 years MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department's Gardner Lecture has offered a forum for the leading figures of aeronautics and astronautics to present talks on their involvement in, and perspectives on, aerospace engineering history.