Stanley P. Desjardins
Stanley Palmer Desjardins was born to Samuel Morgan and Stella Ethel (Palmer) Desjardins in a farm town in northern Minnesota in 1930. His family followed his father to a U.S. Army base in Idaho during World War II. Desjardins later joined the National Guard and served active duty in the Korean War. In 1954, he enrolled at the University of Idaho with GI Bill benefits studying mechanical engineering and developing an interest in solid-propellant rocketry.
Desjardins earned a degree in mechanical engineering in 1958 and after graduation took his first engineering job at Thiokol Chemical Corporation in Utah, working on the nozzle design for the U.S. Air Force Minuteman program, that in the late 1950s, was working on advances in solid-fuel propellants. The Minuteman is a three-stage, solid-propellant, rocket-powered ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) with a range of approximately 5,500 nautical miles.
Ten years later, Desjardins accepted a job offer from a small Arizona company to study crash safety and airline security. After working there for several years, Desjardins founded Simula, Inc. in 1975, to further the research, technology, and produce components incorporating that expertise into systems for improving occupants’ chances of survival in vehicle crashes. The company’s first big break was to supply energy-absorbing, crashworthy seats to the Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. Later, federal regulators contracted with Simula to study jet airliner crashes, and the company’s research determined stronger seats were necessary to improve safety. The company went on to design and produce crashworthy seats for military and commercial airplanes and helicopters and side-airbag systems for aviation and automobiles.
Desjardins was president and CEO of Simula for 20 years, president for 25 years and chairman of the board of Simula Inc. for 26 years. During that time, Simula developed and/or produced crash-resistant seats for the UH-60A Black Hawk and derivatives, SH-60B Seahawk, AH-64A Apache, SH-3 Sea King, CH-53 Sea Stallion, V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor, RAH-66 Comanche, UH-1Y, UH-1Z and several foreign aircraft including the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), the Westland/Agusta EH101, and the Royal Australian Air Force S-70-A9. Simula has developed and produced crash-resistant seats for several commercial aircraft as well, including the Bell 212, 412, 230, 430, 427, the new 607 tilt-rotor, and the Kaman K-MAX, helicopters. Working with Japanese engineers from Tenyru, Simula developed seats for the new OH-1 and MH2000 helicopters. Simula also developed and built all of the sidewall and centerline troop seats for the US Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. The performance record for these seats is outstanding including “saves” in crashes of energy levels far exceeding the specified design environment.
In a related field, Simula developed and produced air bag restraints. Examples include the Cockpit Air Bag Systems (CABS) for the U.S. Army’s UH-60 Black Hawk and OH-58 Kiowa Warrior as well as side airbags for several automobiles including BMW. Desjardins retired from Simula, Inc. in 2001 when Simula was a publically traded company with twelve facilities worldwide with approximately 1400 employees.
In 2002, Desjardins founded a new company, Safe, Inc., to continue research to advance the state-of-the-art in crashworthy seats, as well as other interests. Early work has centered around SBIR projects including development of a ballistic armor covering for aviators’ helmets, development of a new lightweight crashworthy troop seat for Navy helicopters, a seat for Army and Marine ground vehicles that limits the impulsive loads imposed on the occupant as a result of a mine blast under the vehicle, new tie-downs for equipment carried in Navy helicopters, a loading device that allows passengers, both ambulatory and those in wheelchairs, to board railcars from either high or low platforms, as well as other related projects.
In a very recent project, Safe developed and delivered energy absorbing struts to NASA. The struts will be used to connect the Orion crew-carrying pallet to the outer structure of the crew capsule. If the load magnitudes during reentry and/or splash down are extreme, the energy absorbing struts will stroke limiting the loads exerted on the crew to tolerable levels. Safe’s staff now includes 14 people of which ten are engineering.
Desjardins was responsible for three major revisions of the U.S. Army’s Aircraft Crash Survival Design Guide, which is widely recognized as the authority on crash-resistant aircraft design criteria. He is the inventor or co-inventor of six patents, and his many awards include recognition from the American Helicopter Society in 2003 for his contributions that increase aircrew and passenger safety. He has been nominated for induction into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and was selected as a U of I Hall of Fame recipient in 1996 and as the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship Entrepreneurial Fellow by the University of Arizona in 1996. He is an Outstanding Alumnus, a former member of the College of Engineering Advisory Board and has served as an EXPO judge many times.
In recognition of his leadership in and contributions to the field of aviation safety, U of I honored Desjardins an Honorary Doctorate degree in 2010.
Desjardins resides with his wife, June Rudyk, in Scottsdale, Arizona. They have one daughter, Sandra.