Robert D. Shadley

Senior Vice President, Business Development
Ordnance and Ground Systems
Alliant Techsystems Inc.
Major General, U.S. Army (Retired)
BSIE ’65, MSIE ’66

For his innovative leadership and outstanding technical expertise in logistics management, the College of Engineering is proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to Robert D. Shadley.

Serving His Country

“I came to Purdue to be an engineer, and I also wanted to play a little basketball, but for some reason the coach [Ray Eddy] thought Terry Dischinger [Purdue’s high-scoring All-American and Olympic gold medalist] was a better ball player than I was,” Robert Shadley says, and laughs. “So I played freshman ball and then devoted all my time to industrial engineering.”

Shadley studied advanced ROTC while at Purdue but deferred military service for a year in order to finish a master’s of science in industrial engineering degree. He then went to work for PPG Industries Inc. in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. “I wrote the Army and asked, ‘Did you forget about me?’” Shadley says. “And they wrote back and said, ‘Yes, we did. Here are your orders.’ So, maybe if I’d kept my mouth shut, I never would have gone in the military.”

Shadley began his military career as a project officer at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, and worked his way through the ranks to Major General. Along the way he studied with the British Royal Armour School in England, was the Commander of the 801st Maintenance Battalion in the 101st Airborne Division, and held the position of Commanding General of the Army Ordnance Centers and Schools in Maryland, among others. “I had a succession of challenging assignments,” Shadley says. “I enjoyed working with the people, and I felt like I was making a contribution to my country.”

Shadley was responsible for logistics support for U.S. forces in Haiti and for the logistics aspects of setting up the refugee center at the Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 1994. He was also the Commander of the Division Support Command in the 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized), which deployed to Operations Desert Shield/Storm. His command supported 22,000 personnel as the Big Red One covered more than 250 kilometers in four days.

Top Soldier

“I found engineering very compatible with the military,” Shadley says. “The whole engineering discipline—the thought process of how you identify the real problem, look at the facts, look at the assumptions, analyze the alternatives, come up with a recommended solution, and then implement it—fits very well, because that’s what you do in the military: take on problems and look for the best solution.”

Shadley culminated his career as Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics, U.S. Army Forces Command, an organization composed of more than 800,000 soldiers and 40,000 civilians. He is credited with saving the command over $50 million by redistributing excess property and $34 million through contract regionalization.

In recognition of his long and distinguished career, the Army has awarded Shadley the Bronze Star in 1971 and 1991 for service in a combat theater, three awards of the Legion of Merit, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and, finally, the Distinguished Service Medal in 2000. In 2003 he was inducted into the U.S Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame. In 1996 he was inducted into the Purdue ROTC Hall of Fame.

Retirement and Back to Work

Shadley has also been honored by his alma mater. “In 1999 I came back and was a recipient of an Outstanding Industrial Engineer Award,” he says. “Several of the professors I worked with had served in the armed forces, in wartime and peacetime, and I sensed that they were very proud to see someone there in a military uniform.”

Upon his retirement from military service in May 2000, Shadley was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, our nation’s highest peacetime Army award.

But he wasn’t idle for long. In June 2000, he joined Alliant Techsystems (ATK) as Vice President, Army Operations. ATK is a $2.2 billion aerospace and defense company employing more than 12,000 people. Shadley is currently Senior Vice President for Business Development, Ordnance and Ground Systems. He is also the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Minnesota, serving pro bono.

“After leaving Purdue, I always felt very proud when people asked, ‘Where did you go to school—did you go to West Point?’” Shadley says. “And I would say, ‘No, I went to Purdue.’ People would say, ‘Ah!’ I would just get a little swelling of pride in my chest when I said I was an engineer from Purdue.”

2003- Senior Vice President, Business Development, Alliant Techsystems;
appointed Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Minnesota
2003 Inducted into the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame
2001-03 Vice President, Logistics and Army Operations, Alliant Techsystems
2000-01 Acting Group Vice President, Defense Systems, Alliant Techsystems;
United Way Outstanding Community Service Award
2000- Vice President, Army Operations, Alliant Techsystems
1999 Outstanding Industrial Engineer Award, Purdue
1997-2000 Director of Logistics, U.S. Army Forces Command, Fort McPherson, Georgia;
Distinguished Service Medal
1996 Inducted into the ROTC Hall of Fame, Purdue
1995-97 Commanding General, U.S. Army Ordnance Centers and Schools, Maryland
1994-95 Director of Logistics, U.S. Atlantic Command, Norfolk, Virginia;
Defense Superior Service Medal
1992-94 Executive Officer to the Commanding General, U.S. Army Materiel Command, Alexandria, Virginia;
Legion of Merit (2d Oak Leaf Cluster)
1991 Bronze Star Medal (1st Oak Leaf Cluster)
1990-92 Commander, Division Support Command, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas and Operations Desert Shield/Storm;
Legion of Merit (1st Oak Leaf Cluster)
1986-90 Logistics Officer and Team Chief, U.S. Army, Washington D.C.;
Legion of Merit
1985-86 Student, U.S. Army War College, Pennsylvania
1983-85 Commander, 801st Maintenance Battalion, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky
1980-83 Executive Officer, 708th Maintenance Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, Germany;
Commander, 8th Infantry Division Materiel Management Center
1978-80 Assistant Chief of Staff, Maintenance Branch, Fort Hood, Texas
1977-78 Student, Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Master of Military Art and Science
1976-77 Student, Long Armour Infantry Course, British Royal Armour School, England;
Operations Research / Systems Analysis Officer, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
1972-75 Student, Ordnance Officer Advanced Course, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland;
Research and Development Coordinator, U.S. Army Materiel Command, Alexandria, Virginia

Advisor, Ordnance Advisory Division, U.S. Military Assistance Command, Vietnam;
Bronze Star Medal

1969-70 Commander, 86th Ordnance Detachment, U.S. Army Pacific, Japan
1968-69 Commander, later Executive Officer, 249th Ordnance Detachment, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama

BSIE ’65, MSIE ’66, Purdue University
MMAS ’78, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College