2016 Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Awards

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.

The School is pleased to honor nine graduates of AAE with the designation "Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award."

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 180 OAE's represent just over 2% of the more than 8500 alumni of the School.

Congratulations to our 2016 Outstanding Aerospace Engineers


Test Pilot
DER Consulting

From CFD to Cn, a Purdue education provides the essential underpinning of engineering judgment, through an unrivaled toolbox of theory, applied engineering principles, and hands-on experiences that allow Boilers to add value from day one across any engineering space.

Mark W. Anderson graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science with distinction in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 1974.

Mr. Anderson entered the United States Air Force later that year and served in a variety of flying assignments on active and reserve duty for 37 years. In 1983, Mr. Anderson completed graduate studies at Cal Tech earning an MS in Aeronautics. He graduated at the top of his class from the United States Air Force Test Pilot School in 1985 and has been an active test pilot for the past 30 years. While serving in the United States Air Force, he was the chief test pilot on the MC-130H Combat Talon II test program, a highly modified C-130 variant designed for special operations missions. He is a combat veteran and retired from the Air Force in 2011 holding the rank of Major General. In 1991, after leaving active duty, Mr. Anderson joined the FAA. During his 21year FAA career he flight tested civil aircraft to show compliance with FAA regulations. He has extensive experience in type certificate flight testing and supplemental type certificate flight testing on aircraft such the Cirrus Design SR20 & SR-22, USAF C-130J, USAF T-6A, and the Boeing 787. As a B787 flight test captain, he safely recovered a test aircraft with 42 crew members on board after an extensive electrical fire and subsequent total electrical failure. After his retirement from the FAA in 2011, he formed Flight Test Solutions, LLC where he continues to work as an FAA Designated Engineering Representative (DER) Test Pilot and Flight Analyst, providing FAA flight test pilot and flight test engineering services worldwide. His flight test programs include: The American Champion 8KCAB Extreme Decathalon, a Cessna C208BEX on amphibious floats, a King Air Be200 equipped with a 14’ tail boom modification, a Boeing 737 advanced flight management system, a Cessna C208 amphibian with new 850Hp PT6A-42A engine, a re-engined Cessna 182 on amphibious floats, a Nextant C-90 aircraft equipped with new GE turboprop engines engine; and a Cessna 206 equipped with with a turbo prop engine. He has accrued more than 10,000 hours of flying time in over 50 aircraft types. He has been published four times in the AIAA Journal of Aircraft and is an Associate Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.


Test Pilot, Retired
United States Air Force, Rockwell Collins

My degree from Purdue proved to be the solid footing I needed for every step I took to advance my Air Force and civilian careers.

Col. Charles C. 'Charlie' Bock, Jr. graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Engineering in 1949. He had a long and distinguished United States Air Force career as a bomber pilot, fighter pilot, test pilot, and a military astronaut designee. Col. Bock flew 51 combat missions with the 90th Bomb Squadron in Korea and 52 combat missions with the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing in Vietnam. Other assignments included two tours in Flight Test Operations at the Air Force Fight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California. He participated in many of the flight test programs at the Center and brought the first B-58 to leave the factory to the Center for a year of testing. Col. Bock was a B-50 launch pilot for the X-2 and the B-52 launch pilot for all of the first captive and launch flights of the X-15. When the YF-12 ar-rived at the Center, a YF-12/SR-71 Test Force was formed with Charlie as the Operations Officer. The mission was to assist Lockheed in expanding the operating envelope of the SR-71.

Col. Bock retired from the Air Force in 1973 to take a position with Rockwell International Corporation as chief test pilot for the B-1 bomber program. In December 1974, he piloted the first flight of the bomber. Col. Bock was responsible for all aircrew training and had a major influence on the formulation of the B-1 flight test program priorities and objectives. He retired from Rockwell in 1981, and from 1982 to 1984 was a consultant to Northrop Corporation on the B-2 Stealth Bomber. During his flying career, Col. Bock logged over 10,000 hours in more than 100 types of aircraft and was awarded the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and six Air Medals.

In addition to his degree from Purdue, Col. Bock was also a graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School, the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School, the Air Command and Staff College, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Col. Bock is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. The Society, formed in 1954, has achieved international status.


Senior VP & General Counsel, Retired

I learned at Purdue that intellect, enhanced by knowledge, and combined with hard work were essential to the realization of opportunities presented to us during our lives.

Gambaro was born July 6, 1938 in Niagara Falls, N.Y., to Italian immigrant parents suffering the economic hardships of the Great Depression. He overcame his impoverished beginnings to excel as an honor student and leader. In 1955, he was named "The Most Outstanding Youth of the City" by the Mayor of Niagara Falls.


  • *He attended Purdue University on a Special Merit scholarship where he graduated with honors in Aeronautical Engineering (B.S. in 1960, and M.S. in 1961). He was recognized for his academic achievements by being inducted as a member of Tau Beta Pi (for excellence in engineering) and Sigma Gamma Tau (for excellence in aeronautical and aerospace engineering). He was asked and agreed to be the founder and first president of the Purdue chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa, the national society which recognizes student leadership. During his final three summers while attending Purdue, he was employed by Bell Aircraft and Northrop. While at Northrop for two months, he created the equations to be carried aboard every Apollo spacecraft which would have been utilized by the astronauts to manually obtain the course adjustments to safely return to earth in the event the onboard computer failed during the Apollo flights to the moon.
  • *In 1961, he was named a Fulbright Scholar by the Institute for International Education and the Government of the United States. He continued his graduate studies in aerospace engineering at Rome University in Rome, Italy. While there, he studied with Luigi Broglio, the leader of Italy’s fledgling space program, and worked on the San Marco Program which launched Europe’s first satellite into equatorial orbit (on a U.S rocket launched from a platform in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Kenya). The satellite collected data on the Earth’s magnetic field for more than two decades.


In late 1962, he joined The Aerospace Corporation which was created to perform General Systems Engineering and Technical Direction for the ballistic missile and space programs of the U. S. Air Force and other national military and intelligence agencies. He was the youngest member of the conceptual design group and oversaw the creation and implementation of most of the USAF experiments aboard the Gemini spacecraft, and the payload and mission design for the Manned Orbital Laboratory (MOL) program for the USAF. Thereafter, Gambaro, who held the nation’s highest security clearances, was assigned to the “special projects” group where he and several others crafted the initial designs for the country’s premier orbital reconnaissance system which was operational for many years.


While continuing his responsibilities at The Aerospace Corporation, he enrolled at Loyola University, the Jesuit university in Los Angeles, to become a “high tech” lawyer. He completed his Juris Doctor studies in 120 weeks, the minimum permitted by the California State Bar. Gambaro was granted special dispensation the take the bar exam before he graduated in 1975, by which time he was already admitted to the practice of law in California. He transferred to the corporate law department of The Aerospace Corporation where he gained skills in the practice of law to compliment his knowledge of the application of technology and engineering.


In 1980, he became the Assistant General Counsel of Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC: NYSE).

  • *His first assignment was to recover money owed CSC by the Iranian government after the fall of the Shah for the development and implementation of a computer-based logistics system. In proceedings he initiated before the Iran Claims Tribunal in The Hague, he secured the third largest award then granted by the Tribunal arising from contracts performed for the Shah’s government for which payment was withheld by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • *He next represented CSC in transactions connected with the development and deployment of the AEGIS fleet area defense system, and with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the Peace Shield Program (together with Boeing) and in the $300 million program awarded CSC to construct a national computer network for the Kingdom’s Ministry of Interior.
  • *He led a multi-million dollar domestic and international acquisition program which resulted in the addition of more than a dozen companies to CSC.
  • *As a consequence of these many domestic and international transactions, Gambaro developed considerable skill in the organization and financing of large domestic and international projects.

He was also active in the Los Angeles community during his years with CSC and Infonet. His accomplishments include serving on the Argue Committee, which was the primary entity engaged in bringing the 1984 Olympic Games to Los Angeles, and was a leader in the formation of the Los Angeles Opera Company.


In 1988, he orchestrated, together with his partner, a “spin-off” of the Infonet “computer time share” division of CSC, a business which CSC had decided to abandon as more of its clients acquired high-capability computer systems. He and his partner had the vision that the telecom network which enabled client access to CSC’s mainframe computers, had value as a data communications network.

  • *During the course of several months, Gambaro, together with his partner, shared their vision with 13 of the largest telecom companies in the world, which became shareholders in the newly formed Infonet Services Corporation.
  • *Infonet was to become the world’s largest provider of secure data network services to large and mid-size multinationals. It provided sales and customer support in over 80 countries. He served as Infonet’s Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary.
  • *In December, 1999, Infonet was listed on the NYSE in the year’s largest telecom Initial Public Offering (IPO) valued at $10 billion.


Gambaro retired from Infonet on October 31, 2000. Since then he has been engaged in various initiatives and philanthropic activities.

  • *In 2001, he was made a Knight in the Sovereign Military and Hospitallar Order of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta (“The Knights of Malta”). Founded in 1099 at the fall of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, The Knights of Malta is the oldest continuously operating lay order in the Roman Catholic Church. What was once a military order defending the Holy Land and Europe, now is a charitable body with observer status at the UN and maintains diplomatic relations with more than 70 countries.
  • *His philanthropies include the restoration of churches in Italy, and being a major donor to the construction and development of the new Performing Arts Center in Miami and the new campus and theater for the New World Symphony in Miami Beach.
  • *In 2016, Gambaro was honored to receive the Outstanding Aerospace Engineer (OAE) Award from the Purdue University School of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
  • *Together with his wife, Monica, a former PanAm flight attendant, they divide much of their time between Miami Beach, Florida; Lake Como, Italy and Lake Tahoe, Nevada. They have visited every continent and more than 100 countries during their years together.


  • *Gambaro has held a private pilot’s license since 1975. He participated for several years as a “club racer” for Alfa Romeo during the 1960s.
  • *He hunted for several decades in North America and Africa, and remains an avid shooter and expert marksman. He maintains Golden Eagle and Life Memberships in the National Rifle Association, and is a member of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
  • *A body-builder, runner and cyclist since his youth, he continues to begin most days with resistance exercises.
  • *Gambaro is a life-long student of art, music, history and archeology. He speaks Italian.


  • *American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • *State Bar of California (State and Federal Courts) Member, Business Law Section
  • *U.S. Supreme Court
  • *U.S. Tax Court
  • *Los Angeles Center for International Commercial Arbitration Co Founder, Member of Board of Directors and Executive Committee
  • *International Negotiation Center, Adjunct Faculty
  • *American Arbitration Association, Commercial Panel
  • *American Bar Association Member, International Section Member, Taxation Section
  • *Los Angeles County Bar Association Founder & First Chairman, Section on Law and Technology Member, Corporate Law Section Member, Taxation Section Delegate, State Bar Conference of Delegates Chairman, Committee on Bar Reorganization Co Chairman, LACBA By Laws Revision Committee


  • *Who's Who in America
  • *Who's Who in America Law
  • *Who's Who in the World
  • *Who's Who in the West


Deputy Director
NASA Johnson Space Center

At Purdue I learned how to solve complex problems, push myself to expand my capabilities and work with others to achieve things we couldn't do alone. All of these things were critical to my career success.

Mark Geyer began his role as the deputy director of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in mid-September of 2015. In his position, Geyer works with the Center Director to manage one of NASA's largest installations, with nearly 14,000 civil service and contractor employees - including those at White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, N.M. - and an annual budget of approximately $5.1 billion. Geyer helps oversee a broad range of human spaceflight activities.

Prior to being named deputy center director, Geyer has served as manager of the Orion Program since 2007. In this position, Geyer was responsible for directing the development of Orion, implementing program policies, planning and ensuring effective cost control of the program. Under Geyer's direction, Orion was successfully tested in space in 2014 for the first time, bringing NASA a step closer to sending astronauts to deep space destinations.

Geyer also served as Deputy Program Manager of the Constellation Program from 2004 to 2007. Along with the program manager, he was responsible for the day-to-day management, development, and integration of Program elements for the deep space exploration program.

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Geyer joined NASA in 1990. He began his career as a Systems Engineer in the Lunar and Mars Exploration Office.

He was quickly recognized for his leadership abilities, and in 1999 he became an increment manager for the International Space Station, responsible for integrating operations requirements between NASA, the Russian Space Agency and their contractors prior to arrival of the first International Space Station crew.

In 2000, Geyer became manager of the International Space Station Integration Office, responsible for definition of the International Space Station assembly sequence. This was the primary office for technical integration of space station elements between the international partners.

Then in 2004, Geyer began supporting the Development Program Division of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington as the manager of Systems Engineering and Integration.

Geyer has been recognized with NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal in 2000, the Space Flight Awareness Leadership Award in 2003, the Meritorious Executive Rank Award in 2006, the Distinguished Executive Rank Award in 2011, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 2015. He was also a nominee for the Federal Engineer of the Year Award in 2012.

Geyer earned Masters and Bachelor of Science degrees from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University. He and his wife Jacqueline have three children, Samantha, Russell and Andrew.


Engineering Director for Defense Programs
Aerojet Rocketdyne

Having been inspired by the moon landings, I decided to pursue a career in aerospace. In researching my college options, I found that the reputation of Purdue University was outstanding. When I was attending Purdue, I had no idea of the aerospace adventures I would encounter during my career. The experiences, the people and the opportunities have been wonderful. I feel blessed to have worked on a diversity of challenging propulsion programs. Go Boilers!

Rolf Hamke graduated from Purdue University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering and a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1987.

Mr. Hamke began his career at Thiokol Corporation (1990) working on the Solid Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile (LEAP) and Standard Missile 3 Block IA Solid Divert and Attitude Control System (SDACS) programs as a ballistician, test engineer, and system analyst. In 1998, Mr. Hamke continued his career at Beal Aerospace Inc. as the Stage 3 Integrated Product Team Lead focused on developing a peroxide powered launch vehicle stage for a privately funded launch system.

In 2000 Mr. Hamke joined Aerojet Gencorp as a Chief Engineer developing peroxide powered turbopump fed rocket engine, turbo-machinery and green liquid propellant based propulsion systems. Mr. Hamke's work efforts extended to the National Missile Defense system working on the Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV) thrusters, the Missile Defense Agency Technology Risk Reduction Program and Standard Missile 3 Block IB and IIA Divert and Attitude Control System programs.

In 2011, Mr. Hamke was promoted to Engineering Director of the Missile Defense and Strategic Systems. Another promotion (2013) led to his current role as Engineering Director for Defense programs for Aerojet Rocketdyne.


Director of Flight Sciences
Boeing Commercial Airplanes

My educational experience at Purdue connected me to generations of family, friends, and aviation leaders, and provided me with a strong understanding of aeronautical engineering fundamentals. I am proud to have made positive contributions to aviation and to have followed my grandfather, John Herbert Leffel (BSCE 1932), as a Boilermaker alumni.

Mr. Ben Linder graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 1994. He then attended the University of Washington where he obtained a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1995. Several years later, he attended Seattle University and obtained a Master of Business Administration in 2006.

Mr. Linder is the Director of Flight Sciences for Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). In this capacity, he is responsible for the integrated airplane performance, loads, and dynamics characteristics of all BCA airplane products by leading a team of more than 700 people. Mr. Linder oversees the development and growth of the Flight Sciences engineering functions: Aerodynamics, Noise, Weights, and Loads & Dynamics. Most recently, he was the 777 Fleet Support Chief Engineer responsible to ensure the 777 airplane fleet maintained its safe and economical operation with customers around the world. Previously, Mr. Linder was the Chief Engineer of Aerodynamic Characteristics and Flight Performance, the 777 Safety, Certification and Performance Senior Manager, the Everett (747/767/777) Airplane Safety Engineering Manager, and a Product Marketing Regional Director. He joined Boeing as an Aerodynamics Engineer in Commercial Airplanes where he enjoyed assignments in product development, sales support, flight test, certification, and fleet support. In his career, he has worked on every Boeing commercial airplane model produced since he joined Boeing as an engineering summer intern in 1993.

Mr. Linder’s professional interests are in the areas of aviation, international business, engineering, mentoring, and development of future leaders. He is married, lives near Mukilteo, WA, and enjoys sports (soccer, football, baseball, basketball, scuba diving, alpine skiing), fast cars, gastronomy, the outdoors, and travel.


737 MAX Engineering Integration Chief Engineer
Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Purdue connected my passion for aerospace with the potential within me. Without a doubt the education and hands on experience I gained while at Purdue has been, and will continue to be, instrumental in my career. Most importantly Purdue gave me a community of colleagues and great friends that will last a lifetime

Mr. David N. Loffing graduated from graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 2002 and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2004.

Mr. Loffing joined The Boeing Company as a summer intern in 2002 and then full time in 2004 as an Airplane Configuration Engineer in the 747 Product Development group. During his internship, Mr. Loffing was part of small design team that developed the preliminary configuration of what would become the heavily modified 747 Dreamlifter (Large Cargo Freighter) for the 787 Program. From 2004 to 2011, he had the unique opportunity to be a part of the entire development cycle of the 747-8 Freighter and Intercontinental airplanes. During his time with the 747-8 Program, Mr. Loffing performed several different roles including Wing & Empennage Managed Configuration Team Leader, Program Integration Manager, Deputy Performance Leader, Flight Test Program Integration Leader and 747 Technology Leader.

After certification and delivery of the first 747-8F in 2011, Mr. Loffing joined the management ranks at Boeing in Aerodynamics Stability & Control as a Manager of the Simulation and Accident Investigation teams. He would later serve as Senior Manager of the Airplane Configuration & Integration (AC&I) organization at Boeing Commercial Airlines with teams supporting Product Development and Airplane Development programs including the 737MAX, 777X, 787-10, KC-46 Tanker, and New Airplane Studies.

In his current position on the 737MAX Airplane Development program, Mr. Loffing leads the multidisciplinary Airplane Level Integration Team (ALIT) as the Chief Engineer of Engineering Integration.


Director of Liquid Engine Development

I was fortunate to start my Purdue aerospace education at a time when the school was committed to ramping up experimental propulsion research. The practical experience gained by building up new rocket test stands, testing combustion devices, and learning every day from the faculty and staff at Zucrow Labs provided the foundation I needed to contribute in a fast-paced and forward-looking work environment.

Mr. Kevin Miller graduated from Purdue University with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 2003 and a Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2005.

Mr. Miller joined Space Exploration Technologies as a Propulsion Development engineer in 2005. His first responsibilities included completion of development testing of the pump-fed Merlin 1A rocket engine. He served as test director for the qualification of the Merlin 1A engine and supported flight operations of the Falcon 1 launch vehicle which launched successfully in September 2008. Mr. Miller stepped into the role of Manager of the Boost Propulsion group and was the responsible engineer for the Merlin 1C rocket engine developed for the Falcon 9 launch vehicle. He was a technical leader in the development the Falcon 9 launch vehicle propulsion systems and defined interfaces with avionics, software, and ground support teams. The Falcon 9 flew successfully in June 2010 and completed the first ever commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station in 2012. Mr. Miller was awarded the NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal in 2014 for contributions made toward commercial resupply services to the ISS.

Mr. Miller managed the development team for the Merlin 1D rocket engine which achieved the highest thrust-to-weight ratio of any other booster engine and is currently the most flown liquid rocket booster engine in the United States. The Merlin 1D engine demonstrated successful reusability during multiple test flights of the SpaceX "Grasshopper" experimental launch vehicle and was also the first rocket engine to successfully demonstrate supersonic retro propulsion and a targeted precision landing and recovery of a complete booster stage used in an orbital mission.

As Director of Liquid Engine Development, Mr. Miller was responsible for flight qualification and risk management for all Merlin engines as well as directing a team of over 60 engineers focused on the structural, thermal, and fluid design of SpaceX’s Merlin and Raptor engines. He also acts as the primary propulsion interface with multiple government review organizations at NASA and the USAF, in support of contracts valued at over $1 billion for commercial resupply and commercial crew flights to the ISS. In his current role as Principal Propulsion Engineer, Mr. Miller focuses on the most impactful technical issues confronting SpaceX’s liquid propellant rocket engines.


Vice President, Retired,
Delta Launch Services, Boeing

My education at Purdue provided a broad range of educational tools for me to pursue my career in Aerospace. There is no doubt that my Purdue education was a factor in my career advancement.

Mr. Schweikle consults on large expendable and reusable space launch vehicles to the aerospace industry since he retired from Boeing in 2004. His expertise and experience is in development and testing of large vehicle systems, program management, business development, propulsion development, zero-gravity environments, and manned systems for space application.

Mr. Schweikle spent 45-plus years working for Douglas Missiles and Space/ McDonnell Douglas/ and Boeing as each company merged with the previous. His range of programs over this period include: the Boeing Delta IV/EELV development, launch vehicle commercial and government business development, sales and marketing, reusable launch vehicles DC-X and DC-XA, International Space Station, Saturn Apollo S-IV and SIVB and the Thor IRBM

In September 2001, as VP of Delta Launch Services, Inc., he formed a new division in 1998 responsible for all Delta Commercial and Government Sales and Marketing. His sales team was responsible for bringing in over $5 billion in commercial and government sales.

He served as the Program Manager for the Delta IV/ Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Program. He was responsible for implementation of Commercial and USAF engineering, manufacturing, and development activities for five Delta IV launch vehicle configurations leading to the U.S. Air Force’s selection of Boeing to produce the EELV/Delta IV family of expendable launch vehicles.

During his time with the company, Mr. Schweikle has served as Program Manager for the single-stage reusable rocket, the Delta Clipper-Experimental Advanced (DC-X/DC-XA), and as Chief Engineer and Deputy General Manager for the McDonnell Douglas portion of the International Space Station (ISS) and Space Station Freedom programs. Other responsible ISS positions included Director of Systems Engineering and Integration.

He served as Chief Engineer-Propulsion for the McDonnell Douglas Missile and Space Systems Division (MSSD), directing propulsion design, analysis and testing for MSSD major programs including the Delta Launch Vehicles.

Mr. Schweikle joined Douglas Missiles and Space Division in 1959, working on propulsion GSE, design analysis, and pressurization systems. He played a major role in the development of the liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen propulsion systems on the Saturn S-IV and S-IVB upper stages for the Apollo Moon Program.

Mr. Schweikle received his BSAE from Purdue University in 1959, and a MS degree in Engineering from UCLA in 1965.

He has served on the AIAA Liquid Propulsion Technical Committee, 1978-81; the AIAA Solid Rocket Technical Committee, 1984-87.

Mr. Schweikle was awarded the NASA Public Service Medal in April, 1994, for his contributions to the International Space Station transition from Space Station Freedom.

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