University of Texas
Dillon Heierman McDaniel
February 9, 1945–May 1, 2012

 

 

Dillon H. and Stephanie Hillaker McDaniel

 

Dillon will be remembered as a loving husband and father with a kind heart and an adventurous spirit. He was regarded by his colleagues as a rare gentleman scientist; always generous, interested, and gracious. He died unexpectedly at his home in Placitas, New Mexico, on May 1, 2012. Born to Dillon Heyworth McDaniel and Dorothy Heierman McDaniel in Austin, Texas in 1945, he grew up in Miami, Florida. (Dillon is shown at right between his parents in about 1950 in a Pan American Airways photo. Thanks to Gina McDaniel Tarver for making it available.)

Dillon received his baccalaureate and PhD degrees in physics from the University of Texas (Austin) in 1967 and 1973 respectively. At Texas, Dillon used RF-generated magnetized plasmas to explore the lower hybrid resonance. Following graduation in 1974, Dillon went to directly to Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and began work in the Pulsed Power Group. Dillon's career at SNL spanned 38 years.

Dillon made a direct impact on research and development of pulse power applications from the US Department of Energy’s highest power accelerators to smaller, compact accelerators for radiographic applications and current drivers of isentropic equation-of-state experiments. He was an inspiration to young scientists and continually strove to build a strong international pulsed power community to develop new technology and applications toward high-yield fusion energy.

At UT Austin, he met Stephanie Hillaker, whom he married on June 4, 1966. Stephanie and Dillon moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in fall 1973. He devoted his life to his wife, children, family, and friends. After losing Stephanie in 2007, he remarried Susan Mertes in 2009. His wife survives him, as do all his children, who share their sorrow with their spouses, Karen and Wade Vaught (Alexandria, VA), Gina and David Tarver (Austin, TX), Dillon and Laurie McDaniel (Savannah, GA), Melissa and Chris Dracup (Albuquerque, NM), Mary McDaniel Clum and Tristan Clum (Albuquerque, NM), Katie and Marti Sarber (San Antonio, TX), and Michael and Erin McDaniel (Albuquerque, NM). He leaves behind sixteen grandchildren, who were his joy, Hunter, Connor, Kayla, Quinn, Addi, Aleida, Max, Nora, Wesley, Liam, Corinne, Owen, Collin, Ian, Ellie and Harbour.

Even the deepest grief felt by all those who were close to him cannot match the love that he gave during his 67 years of life. He lived life with all his heart. Though his time was short, his impact on family and friends will be felt forever. A visitation will be held from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, May 4 and a celebration of his life at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 5 at French – Wyoming Chapel followed by interment at Mount Calvary Cemetery. Donations in Dillon's name can be made to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at www.ocrf.org.
Obituary provided by P. Barela

Dillon is buried at Mount Calvary Cemetery Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, New Mexico, USA

 

Peter Haas Pulsed Power Award

  • The Peter Haas Award recognizes outstanding contributions to pulsed power technology resulting from an individual’s continued effort to develop programs of research, education, and information exchange that are the basis for progress in pulsed power.

 

Presented to Dillon H. McDaniel Sandia National Laboratories Albuquerque, New Mexico

Presented by the Pulsed Power Science and Technology Standing Technical Committee of the Nuclear and Plasma Science Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for leadership and technical contributions to pulsed power technology in developing research programs and domestic and international collaborations with national laboratories, various institutes, and universities.

Biography of Dillon H. McDaniel

Dillon H. McDaniel was born in Austin, Texas in 1945, and received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics from the University of Texas (Austin) in 1967 and 1973 respectively. He and his wife Stephanie are the proud parents of seven children.

Dillon came to Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) directly from graduate school and began work in the Pulsed Power group. From 1973 to 1977, he was able to work with several colleagues who subsequently became Man and Haas award recipients, and greatly appreciates the mentoring they offered. His work during this time ranged from Marx design to liquid and gas breakdown; from physics studies of electron beam diodes to the investigation of the role of high magnetic fields in propagation of electromagnetic waves past vacuum insulation interfaces and down vacuum power flow channels.

In 1977 and 1978, Dillon began research on Z-pinches using the Proto II accelerator. His research was inspired by work at Air Force Weapons Laboratory (AFWL) and Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL) where significant results were being obtained with Z-pinches on the several microsecond time scale. With the support of AFWL and LANL, experiments were begun at the several megaampere level which achieved an implosion time of 60ns. Given these positive results, the number of staff working on the problem at SNL grew. In 1980, Dillon was promoted to Division Supervisor for Z-pinch and X-ray diagnostics.

In subsequent years, Dillon also managed the Division for Pulsed Power Research. He exercised a leadership role in the research for and construction of PBFA I, PBFA 11, and the conversion of PBFA I to Saturn. During the 1980s, when the world, particularly the Soviet Union, was changing rapidly, Dillon coordinated a z-pinch campaign at the Trinity Institute in Tortisk, Russia with team members from LANL and LLNL in order to confirm Trinity’s results on nested implosion. Subsequently, SNL collaborated with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), at that time DNA, on multi-shell gas puff Z-pinches at the High Current Electronics Institute (HCEI) in Tomsk, Russia. These works heightened interest in z-pinches and resulted in dedicated experimental campaigns fielded on the Saturn 10 MA dnver.

Dillon has continually strove to build a strong international pulsed power community to develop new technology and applications. The collaboration among SNL, DTRA and Institutes in Russia has expanded to include the French DA laboratory, Centre d’Estudes Gramat (CEG). Dillon has been the key person at SNL for these interactions. In 1998, Dillon began campaigning for a direct agreement between the USDOE and the French DGA. This came to fruition in the spring of 2000. Such close collaboration has proven to be very effective not only in the regime of Z-pinches, but also in the development and funding of pulsed power research development at HCEI, Trinity, and the MinAtom Laboratories.

In 1996, PBFA 11 was converted to Z and progress on z-pinches has continued at an exceptional rate.

In 1997, Dillon became the Deputy Director for Pulsed Power Technologies and External Alliances.This group has consolidated SNL’ s electromagnetic efforts and is addressing abroad range of subjects, both experimentally and theoretically from stockpile issues to applications of pulsed power.

Dillon is presently helping to lead an effort to refurbish the Z facility (ZR), and believes that continued strong coordination within the US and with international communities will bring the best pulsed power solutions to the problem. ZR is a steppingstone to the ultimate goal of high yield fusion in the laboratory, and Dillon looks forward with excitement and enthusiasm to being one of many that will achieve this goal.

Obituary for Stephanie Hillaker McDaniel.

Stephanie Hillaker McDaniel will be remembered for her insight, intelligence, creativity, soft voice, light touch, quiet demeanor, sympathetic ear, ready humor, and most especially for her caring heart. She died at her home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on June 28, 2007, after fighting ovarian cancer for two and a half years.  

Born to Harry James Hillaker and Betty Devaney Hillaker in Fort Worth, Texas, she grew up in Fort Worth with her three younger sisters and two younger brothers. They recall what a hard act she was to follow. From 1963-66 she attended the University of Texas at Austin where she was in the honors program. She studied engineering science as one of only two women in the engineering department at the time. At UT, Austin she met Dillon Heierman McDaniel, whom she married on June 4, 1966. Stephanie and Dillon moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in fall 1973. She devoted her life to her husband, children, family, and friends. Seven children, whom she considered her angels, were fortunate to call her Mom.  

Her husband survives her, as do all her children, who share their sorrow with their spouses: Karen and Wade Vaught (Albuquerque, NM), Gina and David Tarver (Austin, TX), Dillon and Laurie McDaniel (Sheffield, AL), Melissa and Chris Dracup (Albuquerque, NM), Mary McDaniel Clum and Tristan Clum (Albuquerque, NM), Katie and Marti Sarber (Washington, DC), and Michael and Erin McDaniel (Santa Barbara, CA). She leaves behind ten grandchildren (and one on the way), who were the lights of her life: Hunter, Connor, Kayla, Quinn, Addi, Aleida, Max, Nora, Wesley, and Liam. She is also survived by her parents, Betty and Harry Hillaker (Fort Worth, TX), siblings Victoria and Howard Harrell (Conroe, TX), Deborah and Phil Currier (Del Mar, CA), Eric and Susan Hillaker (Fort Worth, TX), Melissa and Jack Gillespie (Fort Worth, TX), and Harry and Michele Hillaker, Jr (Des Moines, IA), and dozens of nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and -nephews, and many other relatives and friends.  

Even the deepest grief felt by all those who were close to her cannot match the love that she gave during her 62 years of life. She will be with us always through the love her family holds for her in their hearts. A celebration of her life was held on July 3 at the Mt. Calvary Cemetery Chapel. Donations in Stephanie's name can be made to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at www.orcf.org.

 

 

 

Dillon H. and Stephanie McDaniel Photo Album

Stephanie and Dillon McDaniel

Dillon under his father's arm, his mother, Dorothy, is in the middle.


Stephanie with her father, Harry James Hillaker .



Russian Minister Boris Saltykov (second from left), the Russian Minister of Science and Technology Policy, and Dillon McDaniel (right), Manager of High Energy Plasma Physics Dept. 1273, jointly examine a low-density foam target used in physics experiments on Sandia’s Particle Beam Fusion Accelerator II. Behind Saltykov are (at far left) Vladimir Kuznetsov, Consul General, and Valeri Semin, Consul for Science and Education, both at Russia’s US Consulate in San Francisco. The Russian science visitors were at Sandia September 22, 1994, hosted by Bert Westwood, Vice President for Research and Exploratory Technology 1000, who briefed them on research initiatives at Sandia. They also received briefings on pulsed power technology, surface sciences, and computer-aided materials processing and met with Executive VP Jim Tegnelia. Clyde Layne, deputy program manager of Sandia’s Cooperative Measures Program Office, was with them the whole day, split between Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia.

Dillon and Stephanie McDaniel's tombstone
Mount Calvary Cemetery Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, New Mexico, USA

 

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