Frank L. Stulen

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Manufacturing

For their development and successful demonstration of the numerically-controlled machine tool for the production of three-dimensional shapes, which has been essential for the production of commercial airliners and which is seminal for the growth of the robotics, CAD-CAM, and automated manufacturing industries.

For their development and successful demonstration of the numerically-controlled machine tool for the production of three-dimensional shapes, which has been essential for the production of commercial airliners and which is seminal for the growth of the robotics, CAD-CAM, and automated manufacturing industries.

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Birth
January 22, 1921
Age Awarded
64
Awarded With
John T. Parsons
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Revolutionized Production Of Cars And Airplanes With Numerical Controls For Machines
Awarded by
Ronald Wilson Reagan
Education
Carnegie Mellon University
Areas of Impact
Transportation
Affiliations
John T. Parsons Company
F

Frank L. Stulen graduated from Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University, with a degree in aeronautical engineering. After serving in the Army Corps of Engineers, he and his wife Dorothy moved to Traverse City, where he took a position with Parsons Corporation as Vice President of Engineering designing helicopter rotor blades.

As chief engineer, Stulen along with his employer John Parsons, envisioned a new concept of manufacturing — metalworking using numerical control-- the precursor of today's computer aided manufacturing. Together, they were the first to use computer methods to solve machining problems, specifically, the curves of helicopter rotor blades. While Parsons had many of the original ideas, Stulen is credited with turning the ideas into working machines.  

Their invention of computer controlled machinery led to the development of Computer Numerical Control (CNC), which controls the automation of machine tools and tool processes. This technology continues to advance and build off of Stulen’s original design. 

By Jennifer Santisi

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