Outstanding Aerospace Engineers Award 2010

The Purdue University designation Outstanding Aerospace Engineer recognizes the professional contributions of graduates from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and thanks them for the recognition that their success brings to Purdue and the School.

Criteria for the Award state that recipients must have demonstrated excellence in industry, academia, governmental service, or other endeavors that reflect the value of an aerospace engineering degree. The 139 OAEs represent just over 1% of the more than 7000 alumni of the School.


Director, Propulsion Directorate ~ United States Air Force Research Laboratory

"Beyond the excellent technical preparation that a Purdue engineering degree offers, there is in the practicing community a strong sense of Purdue family. It's a bond between Purdue engineers always willing to support fellow alumni. A Purdue engineering degree carries an aura that sets the person apart from others. It's one of respect and confidence in that person's ability."

Doug Bowers graduated from Purdue with a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering in 1972. Bowers earned a master's degree in aerospace engineering from The Ohio State University in 1976 and a master's degree in engineering management from the University of Dayton in 1999.

Bowers directs the U.S. Air Force's science and technology program in propulsion and power for the Air Force Research Laboratory. He began his career at Wright-Patterson in 1972 as a project engineer in the flight dynamics laboratory. In 1994, he became head of the airframe propulsion and weapons integration section of the Air Vehicles Directorate. He helped develop national recommendations for aerospace industry and national security while serving as the Air Force staff member of the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry. Before becoming director for the propulsion directorate in 2008, Bowers served as associate director of air platforms

Bowers received the Air Force's Exemplary Civilian Service Award in 1998, the Meritorious Civilian Service Award in 2001 and the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service in 2004.

Mark Burgess

Chief Engineer ~ Boeing Research & Technology

"In reflecting on my 30-plus years in aerospace, I believe I've been extremely fortunate in my career. I've had the opportunity to work with some of the finest engineers in the world on many exciting and challenging projects. I view my years at Purdue as a crucial and foundational part of my life."

Mark Burgess graduated from Purdue with his bachelor's degree in 1978 and his master's degree in 1979, both in aeronautical engineering. Burgess also earned a master's degree in industrial administration from Purdue in 1982.

Burgess is responsible for internal operations of Boeing's centrally managed research and development organization. He provides executive leadership for approximately 8,000 engineers in Boeing's Engineering, Operations and Technology organization, leading engineering management and development, engineering tools and processes, and overall engineering quality.

Before becoming chief engineer in 2007, Burgess served as director of the Advanced Lean Enterprise organization and has contributed to many aircraft and spacecraft development programs. He has worked at Boeing's operations in Puget Sound, Wash.; St. Louis, Mo.; and Wichita, Kan. for more than 30 years. His experience and skill in aircraft development, including his understanding of aerospace technologies, helped him rise to various positions of authority over that time.

Burgess has been invited to speak at numerous aerospace conferences. He also has published articles in Aerospace America and Mechanical Engineering magazines.

First Lieutenant Joel Gentz

(awarded posthumously)

58th Rescue Squadron, Nellis AFB ~ United States Air Force

Joel Gentz graduated from Purdue with a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering in 2007. Gentz attended Purdue on an ROTC scholarship and after graduation completed the U.S. Air Force's two-year pararescue training program.

Gentz had dreams of becoming an astronaut and piloting the Space Shuttle. He met combat rescue officers through the ROTC program and found the opportunity to help people and save lives compelling. That led him to pursue pararescue training.

Gentz was serving as a first lieutenant when he died in a helicopter crash while on a rescue mission in Afghanistan in June. He was a member of the 58th Rescue Squadron from Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

Gentz earned a Purple Heart and Air Force Combat Action Medal for his military service.

James Miller

Vice President, Worldwide Operations ~ Google, Inc.

'Throughout my career, I've had the fortune of working on the forefront of information technology at some of the world's most innovative places. When I think of the decision I made to attend Purdue as an engineering student, it is with a mix of pride, gratitude and a sense of duty to the legacy and history of the University.'

Jim Miller graduated from Purdue with a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering in 1986. He earned both a master's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993.

Miller is responsible for Google's global operations, supply chain, and new product introduction for the company's global information technology infrastructure. He began his career as an avionics systems engineer in the Federal Systems division of International Business Machines Corp. Miller also has worked for Intel Corp. as a production manager, Teledesic-ICO Corp. as director for the company's user equipment alliances, and Amazon. com as vice president of its global supply chain. From 2002 to 2008, he worked for Cisco Systems, holding several vice president positions in manufacturing, supply chain development and technology development.

Prior to joining Google, Miller served as executive vice president for industrial, automotive and multimedia at Sanmina-SCI , a leading electronic manufacturing services provider. He also co-founded Sierra Crest Consulting, which provides strategic consulting services to a variety of startup businesses and industry leaders in clean tech and high technology.

Leo Millstein

Chief Counsel ~ BAE Technology Solutions and Services Inc.

'Purdue engineering provided me with the essential understanding of the aerospace industry, especially space vehicles, that I supported in my 35-year career.'

Leo Millstein graduated from Purdue with a bachelor's in aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 1970. He later earned a law degree from George Washington University

Millstein is responsible for legal matters at BAE Systems' business service areas. These matters include litigation, government and commercial contracts, employment and labor law, insurance, security, intellectual property protection, real estate, exports, and government compliance. He began his career as a lawyer at Communications Satellite Corp. and then at the law firm of Dyer, Ellis, Joseph & Mills in Washington, D.C., where he earned partner status in 1985. From 1989 to 2000, he served as deputy general counsel at IN TELSAT, a global satellite communications company. There, he led negotiations for the purchase of space launches from Lockheed-Martin, General Dynamics, Arianespace, China Great Wall Industry and Russian Proton.

He also served as vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at software company Merant, PLC. Before his current position, Millstein worked as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary for Orbital Sciences Corp.

James Renna

Vice President, Engineering Safety, Testing & Evaluation ~ Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation

'More than 20 years in the helicopter industry has helped me fully appreciate how well Purdue prepared me for a successful career. The William Shedd quote, 'A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for,' has repeatedly inspired me to utilize all the skills Purdue engineering has taught me, to practically apply science to its maximum human benefit.'

Jamie Renna graduated from Purdue with a bachelor's degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering in 1986. He went on to earn his master's degree in business administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1991.

Renna is responsible for conducting required design validation tests for all Sikorsky Aircraft products. He also is in charge of developing and qualifying new and derivative helicopters and systems.

Renna serves as deputy chair of the aviation product safety board for Sikorsky programs. There, he provides senior level engineering leadership and oversight required to investigate and resolve aviation product safety matters. Before becoming vice president of engineering safety, test and evaluation, Renna served as the Sikorsky director of dynamic systems engineering. Renna has held other notable positions, including lead structural test engineer for the S-92 helicopter and chief of rotor systems design. He joined Sikorsky as a structural test engineer after graduating from Purdue.

Renna is a member of the American Helicopter Society and Purdue's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics industrial advisory committee.

Matthew Szolwinski

Manager, GEnx Systems Engineering ~ GE Aviation

'Purdue University and the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics have left a critical and indelible mark on not just my career, but my life. From the world-class engineering education I received, to the professional networking I established, to some of my closest friendships I forged (including with my wife), Purdue has been my launch pad.'

Matt Szolwinski earned his bachelor's degree in 1993, his master's degree in 1995 and his doctorate in 1998 in aeronautical and astronautical engineering at Purdue.

Szolwinski has served as GE Aviation's chief engineer for its GEnx-1B Systems Engineering team since 2009. After earning his doctorate at Purdue, he taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as an assistant professor in the mechanical and aeronautical engineering department. In 2000, he joined Pratt and Whitney to support its operational commercial engineering fleet as a structures integration manager. In 2004, he joined GE Aviation in Evendale, Ohio with the systems engineering design team for the 787 Dreamliner GEnx-1B engine.

After the GEnx-1B earned Federal Aviation Administration certification in 2008, Szolwinski was named chief engineer for GE Aviation's large military engines.

Manage Faculty and Staff