Distinguished Engineering Alumni 2007

William H. Gerstenmaier BSAAE 1977, OAE 2003

The title Distinguished Engineering Alumni was first given in the spring of 1964 for the purpose of recognizing special accomplishments by our alumni who have distinguished themselves in any field of endeavor that reflects favorably on Purdue University, the engineering profession, or society in general.

Each year, the College of Engineering recognizes those men and women engineers whose achievements are truly outstanding. The School of Aeronautics and Astronautics is proud to announce the Distinguished Engineer Alumni 2007 is William H. Gerstenmaier BSAAE ’77, OAE ’03. The presentation took place during National Engineers Week on February 23, 2007.


Gerstenmaier serves as associate administrator for the Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. He directs NASA's human exploration of space and also has programmatic oversight for the International Space Station, Space Shuttle, Space Communications and Space Launch Vehicles.

Gerstenmaier began his NASA career in 1977 at the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland performing aeronautical research and was involved with wind tunnel tests on the Space Shuttle. In 1980, he joined the Space Shuttle program as propulsion flight controller, and in 1992 Gerstenmaier got his first managerial assignment for the Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle project at JSC.

 In 1990, he led the Space Shuttle/Space Station Freedom Assembly Operations Office responsible for resolving technical assembly issues and developing assembly strategies for what would eventually become the International Space Station.
Gerstenmaier was selected in 1995 to be the operations lead in Moscow for the first phase of the Shuttle-Mir program, serving as primary interface to the Russian Space Agency for operational issues between the Space Shuttle program and Russia's Mir space station. He also was responsible for daily activities and the health and safety of NASA astronauts on Mir.

 In 1998, Gerstenmaier was named Space Shuttle program integration manager. In December 2000, he was selected as deputy manager of the International Space Station program, where he was responsible for day-to-day operations. Selected in 2002 as manager of the International Space Station program, Gerstenmaier was responsible for the overall management, development, integration and operation of the project, including the design, manufacture, testing and delivery of complex spaceflight hardware and software, and working directly with the program's international partners.

Gerstenmaier received a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue University in 1977 and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Toledo, Ohio, in 1981. In 1993, he completed course work at Purdue for a doctorate in dynamics and control, with a minor in propulsion.