Donald L. Lamberson
For his ground-breaking contributions to energy and laser technologies and to the nation s defense through his leadership role in the U.S. Air Force, the Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to Donald L. Lamberson.
General Lamberson began his distinguished 35-year Air Force career as an ROTC student at Purdue, where he graduated with a bachelor s degree in chemical engineering in 1953. He continued his education at the Air Force Institute of Technology, earning a master s degree in nuclear engineering in 1961 and a doctorate in aerospace engineering in 1969.
Before he retired at the rank of Major General in 1989, General Lamberson s technical expertise and leadership in directed energy physics made him the father of lasers in the Air Force. He held a critical role in high-energy laser development in the Air Force in the 1970 s and 80 s, and was particularly influential in his leadership over the Airborne Laser Laboratory, the first high-powered laser to work from an aircraft for precision targeting.
General Lamberson received the Air Force Outstanding Research and Development Officer Award in 1964, the Theodore von Karman Award and the Legion of Merit in 1978, the Defense Superior Service Medal in 1983, and the Distinguished Service Medal in 1989. He is a member of Purdue s Aeronautics and Astronautics Industrial Advisory Council and was a member of Purdue s Engineering Visiting Committee from 1986 to 1990.