Dr. J. Robert Burnett
Executive Vice President, Space and Defense, retired
Robert J. Burnett came to Purdue to work on his BSEE degree and remained to complete his PhD and join the faculty of the School of Electrical Engineering. While at Purdue, he headed research projects in servo-mechanisms, digital computers and network theory.
In 1956, Burnett left Purdue to become manager of the Computers and Controls Department of TRW and thus began a 35-year career with the company. A year later he became director of TRW's Electromechanical Laboratory and was responsible for the development of inertial guidance and control systems for Atlas, Titan, Thor, and Minuteman weapon systems. During the early 1960's, he served as Minuteman program director.
Burnett became a vice president of TRW in 1969. He served as vice president and general manager of the Defense Systems Group, a high-technology organization employing more than 10,000 people. He was promoted to executive vice president and deputy general of Space and Defense and assumed control of a $3 billion operation devoted to aerospace, automotive, and information systems.
He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1975 and is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Burnett won the Charles A. Coffin Fellow Award and received an honorary doctorate from Purdue in 1969.
Retired since 1991, Burnett continues to be active on a number of government committees and corporate boards. He is a member of the selection board for the National Science Foundation and a consultant to Argonne National Laboratory.