REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – Dr. Mark Tischler’s father told him to always give 110 percent.
It was advice that changed the face of Army rotorcraft.
“He would always say, ‘I’m not looking for a 110 percent result, I’m looking for 110 percent effort. If 110 percent effort doesn’t produce good results right now, it may produce the results later – you have no control over that – but I do expect out of you 110 percent effort,’” Tischler said.
For more than 30 years Tischler has given his all for the Warfighter as a civil servant with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center. Tischler, the Army’s Senior Research Scientist for Rotorcraft Flight Dynamics & Control since 2003, is set to retire Jan. 1.
“The thing I have enjoyed about Army aviation is the ability to see the impact of what you’re doing,” Tischler said. “You can work in aeronautics in many of the sectors, but with the Army, the things that you develop end up in aircraft supporting Soldiers every day, and that’s greatly rewarding. You know that you’re working for a higher cause and you can see the results, whether that’s on the battlefield or a Chinook dropping sand bags after Hurricane Katrina. Everything we work on has these kinds of payoffs.”
Tischler’s accomplishments and accolades over the course of his career are many, including twice receiving the Presidential Rank Award. The Army’s foremost subject matter expert in flight control, he’s spent more than 25 years leading the Flight Control Technology Group, which conducts rotorcraft handling qualities and flight control research, and supports the development and flight testing of a wide range of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft and unmanned air vehicles, covering both military and civilian applications.
He has been personally responsible for the development, validation and adoption of model-based frequency domain methods in manned/UAV rotorcraft flight control, simulation and flight-testing, which he has achieved through algorithm and software development, in-house flight-test case studies, industry collaboration and documentation in textbooks he has written. His work has significantly reduced the development time and cost of modern flight control systems, while improving dynamic response performance and operational safety especially in the Degraded Visual Environment.
“I am most proud of the fact that over the course of my career, through the methods we’ve developed, through the textbooks I’ve written, software tools, research that we’ve done, and people that we’ve trained, we changed the arc of Army aviation,” Tischler said. “It took a lifetime to do it, but over time you can have an impact.”
That impact is largely thanks to the 110 percent effort Tischler was willing to put in. Not only days, but nights and weekends spent working on problems, teaching, mentoring, writing books and papers – he has authored or co-authored over 200 research publications – and collaborating with others to find solutions.
“Engineering problems don’t give up their secrets between 9 and 5,” Tischler said. “Sometimes you have to work on them really hard and you get nothing, and then you take a shower and the solution comes to you. Not everybody is up for that. If you’re a really good researcher, they bug you and they don’t let you go. You may be going for a hike but you’re thinking about it. There were several engineering concepts that I got stuck on, and I would go on a hike every weekend and usually after about two or three hours, without even thinking about it, then the juices would start to flow. When I finished the hike I would go into the office and try it out. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t work. You have to stick with it. There’s no easier way.”
While many look to him as a team leader, teacher and mentor, Tischler himself has learned many lessons in his career, largely related to breakthroughs, cross-fertilization and the importance of collaboration.
“Breakthroughs in research are not linear,” Tischler said. “You can envision and develop something that’s ahead of its time. Sometimes the technology has to sit on the shelf for a while. Sometimes the greatest breakthroughs come from cross-fertilization. If you work only on the thing that you’re told to work on, you’re unlikely to have a breakthrough in anything. In research, the biggest breakthroughs come from taking something that you’ve learned in one domain and applying it to another domain. You can’t program for a breakthrough.”
With a little more free time on the horizon, Tischler is looking forward to spending more time windsurfing on the San Francisco Bay and hiking in the mountains, “things that inevitably got sacrificed because there was a book to finish or a paper to read.” As an emeritus senior technologist he will always have a home in Army aviation, where he will continue to mentor those following in his footsteps.
“The Army has been a great home for me for more than 30 years,” Tischler said. “It’s very unusual for people to stay that long in one organization and one discipline. They have made it possible for me to stay within my lane. I greatly appreciate the opportunities and recognition that the Army has given me.”
The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center, formerly known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which conducts responsive research, development and life cycle engineering to deliver the aviation and missile capabilities the Army depends on to ensure victory on the battlefield today and tomorrow. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.