Distinguished Engineering Alumni 2011

Thomas Maxwell
Thomas Maxwell
Gary Payton
Gary Payton
Group photo
L~R Dan DeLaurentis, Thomas Maxwell, Tasos Lyrintzis, Gary Payton, Gus Gustafson, C.T. Sun.
The Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award is presented to engineering alumni who have distinguished themselves in any field of endeavor that reflects favorably on Purdue University, the engineering profession, or society in general. The College of Engineering has over 81,000 living alumni. The distinction of DEA has been bestowed upon 472 of these outstanding individuals.

The School of Aeronautics and Astronautics were proud to honor two alumni who were awarded a Distinguished Engineer Alumni Award on February 25th 2011.

Thomas L. Maxwell BSAAE'69, General Manager, Military Propulsion Engineering, GE Aviation was awarded a DEA  in recognition of his technical and managerial leadership of numerous aircraft engine programs.

Gary E. Payton, MSAAE'72, Former Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force and Astronaut was awarded a DEA in recognition of his technical and managerial leadership in space exploration and development,

Maxwell chose Purdue for his undergraduate studies, and then went on to earn a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Cincinnati and an MBA from Xavier University. He stayed in the Cincinnati area to work his way up the ladder at GE Aviation, where he now heads the development and operation of all military engines.

Maxwell has worked on a wide variety of interesting projects in his time at GE. In a previous position he oversaw the team effort between GE and Rolls-Royce to develop the F136 engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. That program has continued and the first engines are scheduled to deliver in 2012. He also was tasked with establishing a new Military Product Support Engineering organization to better serve military customers.

Payton obtained his BS through the U.S. Air Force Academy, and his MS at Purdue University. His career focused on aviation and space flight – a career that would include a spot on the space shuttle Discovery (STS-51C) in 1985.

STS-51C was the first mission dedicated to the Department of Defense. Payton, a major in the Air Force at the time, was selected as payload specialist. By the time Discovery touched down at Kennedy Space Center, Payton had traveled over 1.2 million miles and logged more than 73 hours in space.

Payton retired from active duty in 1995 and went on to high-level positions in the aerospace industry, mostly in the civil service but including two years as a senior vice president at ORBIMAGE, a leading global provider of Earth imagery products and services. When he retired in 2010, he was deputy under secretary of the Air Force for space programs, where for five years he maintained the perfect launch record for national security space missions that had begun in 1999.

The School hosted a reception prior to the ceremonies where faculty, students and staff were able to talk with the two honorees.

Left  ~ Thomas Maxwell

Middle  ~ Gary Payton

Right  L~R Dan DeLaurentis, Thomas Maxwell, Tasos Lyrintzis, Gary Payton, Gus Gustafson, C.T. Sun.