Howard D. Trudeau

For his sustained and distinguished contributions to the nation's defense and to the advancement of the national technology base, the Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to Howard D. Trudeau.

Vice President of Engineering, Missile Systems Division,
Lockheed Missiles and Space Company
BSME '60

Trudeau bust

On mechanical engineering and student life

While in high school I enjoyed math and science and was interested in mechanical things- automobile engines and other mechanisms. I used to spend a lot of time discussing engineering with my father, who was a self-taught engineer, and with a good friend's father, who was a degreed mechanical engineer. From my early high school years, I knew that I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. My friend's father told me that Purdue was by far the best engineering school in the Midwest.

I grew up in Maywood, Illinois, and had attended a fairly large high school in Chicago, so I wasn't overwhelmed by Purdue's size. I was well prepared for college, so the coursework during my freshman year wasn't a big struggle. There wasn't much time for extracurricular activities, although I did participate in residence hall activities and government and was in advanced ROTC. The ROTC program gave me much more experience in leadership, extemporaneous speaking, and giving presentations that has been very valuable in my career.


I really enjoyed the ME courses during senior year that stressed a systems-level focus to problems and challenged us to integrate and apply the knowledge we had gained from all the courses that we had taken previously. The instructors were able to relate the coursework to real engineering problems being faced in industry, and they sparked my interest in systems engineering.

Young Trudeau portrait

My goal during college was to succeed and to get my degree. I was the first person in my family to attend college, and they expected me to accomplish this goal. When I thought about the future, my goal after completing my Air Force commitment was an engineering management position in the Midwest, probably at a large company. I had never really considered working in the defense industry.

On his life's accomplishments

From a personal standpoint, my wife, Sue, and our two children have been the highlights of my life. We have lived in the same community for 26 years and are active in various church and community activities. Professionally, I am very proud that I had a positive impact on two of the major U.S. strategic deterrent missile systems, Minuteman and Trident, and now am in a responsible position to move my company into nondefense business.

Two things stand out in regard to my career at Lockheed: First, I was chief engineer for the Trident missile program and was intimately involved in the day-to-day work of developing the missile system. It is the most reliable deterrent system the U.S. has today, and I found my contribution meaningful and rewarding. Second, I've led efforts to diversify Lockheed's business base. We won a $1.2 billion grant from NASA for the Advanced Solid-Rocket Motor Program, which was going to be a significant element of our space shuttle program. Although Congress has canceled the ASRM program, we take great pride in the fact that the Lockheed team that I headed won this significant competition.

Right now I'm involved in starting a new line of business called the Lockheed Launch Vehicles-space boosters that will place small commercial and civilian satellites into orbit. That program is a major contribution to the fulfillment of the Clinton administration's policy of developing commercial uses for defense technology.

On engineering education

My entire experience at Purdue was superb preparation for the career I've chosen. Purdue's social and academic environment prepared me extremely well. I think I was ready for the corporate world-probably more than some of my more theoretically educated peers.

I'm deeply concerned about the decline in enrollment in engineering schools, mostly because students are reacting to the drop-off in the short-term demand for engineers. We'll have a shortage of engineers in the future, and the U.S. may lose its position of technological leadership. I've participated as a member of the Santa Clara University Engineering School Advisory Board and the Santa Clara County Industry Advisory Council to the Society of Women Engineers. In both of these activities, and at the elementary school classrooms that I visit, I hear that students, particularly females and minorities, are not developing the interest and motivation during elementary and high school to enter the engineering curriculum in college. All of us in the engineering profession must work with young people, to promote engineering as a career.


Named Vice President, Engineering, Missile Systems Division, Lockheed. Responsible for systems, de sign, and test engineering of current MSD products and for management of division's advanced lines of business.
Named Vice President, Advanced Lines of Business, Missile Systems Division. Pioneered creation of Lockheed Launch Vehicle family of space launch boosters.
Named Vice President, Advanced Solid Rocket Motor Program.
House of Representatives cites management of Trident II program as model for Department of Defense.
Chief Engineer, Engineering and Technology Organization. Led development of Trident II missile; provided engineering support for deployed systems, Polaris, Poseidon, and Trident I.
Assistant Chief Engineer, Engineering and Technology Organization.
Manager, Re-entry Systems Division.
Assistant Program Manager, Technical, for Advanced Fleet Ballistic Missile program.
Manager, Re-entry Systems Engineering, Lockheed. Led development of Trident I (C-4) re-entry systems.
Joined Lockheed as project leader, Advanced Payload Systems.
Professional staff member, Institute for Defense Analysis.
Captain, U.S. Air Force. Managed development of first multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicle for Minuteman III ICBM.

BSME '60, Purdue; Executive Development Program ('76), Cornell.