James R. Hansen was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1952. After earning a B.A. with high honors at Indiana University (1974), he took both the M.A. (1976) and the Ph.D. (1981) at The Ohio State University, where he majored in the history of science under June Z. Fulimer. Hansen began his study of Langley immediately upon his graduation from Ohio State. After completing a draft of Engineer in Charge in 1984, he taught the history of science and technology for one year at the University of Maine. He returned to historical research at Langley Research Center in June 1985 on a summer fellowship co-sponsored by NASA and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), and then began a year as the center¥s historian before moving on to Auburn University in Alabama.
In addition to Engineer in Charge, Hansen is the author of papers delivered before the Society for the History of Technology, the History of Science Society, the Conference for Historic Aviation Writers, the Air Force Historical Foundation, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the NASA Langley colloquium. He has received the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Essay Award for 1985 from the National Space Club and the Air Force Historical Foundation Award for the best scholarly article to appear in Aerospace Historian in 1985.
He is currently working on a history of NASA Langley from 1958 through 1975, and is also busy transforming the tape-recorded historical reminiscences of Fred E. Weick, the pioneering American aeronautical engineer and NACA researcher, into a complete autobiography. He was recently named a Distinguished Lecturer of the Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for 1986-1987.
He is married and has two children.