Photo of awardee

Mark A. Burgess

Chief Engineer, 
Engineering Operations and Technology,
The Boeing Company
BSAAE ’78, MSAAE ’79, MSIA ’82

In recognition of his technical and managerial leadership in the development of science and technology in the aerospace industry.

Mark Burgess easily sums up his life: “I made three right decisions: I went to Purdue. I married my wife. I took a job at Boeing.”

Burgess, chief engineer, engineering operations and technology, The Boeing Company, always had a love of airplanes and aerospace, likely a result of his dad’s passion for airplanes. “I told my mother I wanted to be an aeronautical engineer and I didn’t even know what an aeronautical engineer did. I never waffled from that idea.”

He is responsible for internal operations of Boeing’s centrally managed research and development operation and provides executive leadership for approximately 8,000 engineers.

Before becoming chief engineer in 2007, Burgess served as director of the Advanced Lean Enterprise organizations.

Burgess says Purdue prepared him for a career in aeronautical engineering and was foundational in his whole life experience. “Purdue was an incredible place and an incredible experience. I met my wife there. I matured. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without Purdue. I believe that in my heart.”

Burgess was the air vehicle analysis and integration team leader for the last manned X-airplane Boeing built. “It was a dream come true for a kid from Indiana.”

Burgess points out that aerospace has a major accomplishment about every 20 years: The Wright Brothers made their first flight (1903); Charles Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic (1927); Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier (1947); Neil Armstrong walked on the moon (1969). “Our engineers coming out of school will have the opportunity to live through the next two 20-year cycles. I can’t imagine what they’re going to see in their careers. Today, we have robots on the Martian surface sending back live video. Imagine what will be happening in 40 years!”

He comes back to Purdue offering Purdue students jobs at The Boeing Company. “I think it’s important to thank the University, the professors, and instructors who helped me. Sometimes I think the University thinks of itself as being in the business of producing engineers. For me, they made a dream come true.”

Burgess thinks engineering students are the same today as they were when he was a kid: Curious. Building and taking apart things. “I think engineering is something that is in your DNA.

“I was recruited by Boeing out of college and have been here 33 years. I’ve had great jobs and great assignments. I’ve had the opportunity to work on incredibly advanced projects and practice great engineering with some of the finest engineers in the world. We’ve done things at Boeing that nobody has ever done before.” 

Career Highlights

2010-present Chief Engineer, Engineering Operations & Technology
2009-present Chief Engineer, Boeing Research & Technology
2007-09 Chief Engineer, Phantom Works
Director, Advanced Lean Enterprise; 
Chief Information Officer, Phantom Works
JSF Program: Site Director for St. Louis;
Team Leader, X-32 Air Vehicle Analysis and Integration
1979-93 Various engineering positions with Boeing
1982 MSIA, Purdue University
1979 MSAAE, Purdue University
1978 BSAAE, Purdue University