Each year in November we celebrate Veterans Day. Many of our alumni have used their engineering degrees to serve our country, and many say that the academic rigors and discipline they needed to “get out” of Tech have served them well in the military.
One of our early engineering graduates, Leonard Wood (circa 1895), was a “Rough Rider” with Teddy Roosevelt during the Spanish-American War, and he later became military governor of Cuba and then governor general of the Philippines. There was Gen. Ray Davis, who served in World II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. His most notable endeavor was saving hundreds of trapped Marines during the 1950 Battle of Chosin Reservoir while commanding the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines. An AE alumnus who made huge contributions to the military was David Sloan Lewis Jr. A 1939 graduate of the program, Lewis eventually became leader of General Dynamics and was instrumental in developing the F-16 fighter.
Today you can find civil engineering graduate Gen. Philip Breedlove serving as the 17th Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO Allied Command Operations (which was once Dwight Eisenhower’s job). Just recently former Admiral James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld (AE ‘78), who was vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former NATO commander, returned to Tech as a distinguished professor in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. And our more recent grads are making names for themselves in the military, too. Take, for example, Lt. Jenny Lentz Moore (AE ’05), who is now one of the world’s elite fighter pilots.
From enlisted men and women to generals, Tech engineers have helped shape our armed forces, but we also contribute in another valuable way. In our research labs we are developing sensor technologies, enhancing soldier survivability, modernizing defense electronics, and developing new generations of unmanned systems. Much of what our researchers do is help develop the underlying technologies that will aid those who will protect our country in the future.
We are doing research funded by the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health. In developing artificial clotting agents for minimizing blood loss from battle injuries, we can help frontline troops fighting at remote locations to reduce combat fatalities. An ECE alumnus is working to develop a radar jamming system that “can think on the fly” and overcome the electronic protection of advanced targets. We are helping helicopters fight a dreaded enemy – ice. We’re also developing mini-radars and even doing research to optimize energy consumption at forward operating bases.
These and countless other projects underway at Tech will not only benefit our military, but many of the research outcomes will have a direct impact on consumers in general.
I am thankful to all our students and alumni who will serve or have served our country. I am also thankful for the outstanding research we do, which helps keep our country and our servicemen and women safe.