C. Douglas Ebersole

Executive Director
Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

For his extraordinary career in technical, policy and managerial leadership, and his accomplishments in weapon systems efforts for the U.S. Air Force

Ask Douglas Ebersole what he loves most about his job, and he will proudly tell you, "the mission of the Air Force."

"It's seeing the impact that we can have on our war fighters," Ebersole says. "In the Air Force Research Lab we provide the emerging technologies for our airmen. Our job is to make sure they never enter a mission with a fair fight."

An accomplished member of the Senior Executive Service in the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL), Ebersole is executive director of the lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He has served in a variety of roles, holding titles that range from lead flight technology engineer and platform integration team lead, to chief and director of engineering for numerous programs. Before assuming his current position, he led the Air Force's science and technology program in propulsion, power, and air vehicles for advanced next-generation space, missile and aircraft applications. He oversaw a workforce of 1,800 from military, civilian and contractor areas, and an annual budget of nearly $700 million.

Reflecting on why he chose his profession, Ebersole says he discovered his love for flying at a young age — acquiring his student pilot's license before he even had a driver's license. And for this lover of aircraft, choosing Purdue Engineering was a "no-brainer" — it was actually the only school to which he applied. He credits Purdue's "demanding" program with helping teach discipline and preparation, along with the value of hard work.

"It has an expansive curriculum," he says. "It allowed me to establish a foundation, but also a niche in the 'aero' domain so I could be a little step ahead of the other people coming out of college."

He mentions that he always felt as though he had full access to faculty and that they always put students first. As mentors, he specifically calls out Professor George Palmer, "a legend"; Professor Winthrop Gustafson, "who provided more mentorship outside of the classroom than inside"; and Professor John Sullivan, whom he still sees a couple times each year.

Some of Ebersole's most prominent Purdue memories include showing up to class in the dead of winter in a T-shirt and shorts because he lived just across the street from Grissom Hall. He also recalls fondly the all-night Euchre tournaments with his fraternity brothers, and starting a life with his wife, whom he wed during their junior year.

However, the real benefit of being a Boilermaker, he says, came after graduation.

"There's such a strong family in both accomplishment and numbers," he says. "I can't go to one engineering event where I don't run into at least one Purdue engineer. It binds you together."

Ebersole also serves as the Department of Defense's liaison to the Steering Advisory Council for the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics — established to identify needs and opportunities of the aerospace sector and explore how Purdue can contribute and lead in addressing these needs with curricula and programs for generations of students to come.

Career Highlights

2015-present Executive Director, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), Ohio
2013-2015 Director, Aerospace Systems Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, WPAFB
2010-2013 Director of Engineering, Joint Strike Fighter Program Office, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, Arlington, Virginia
2007-2010 Director of Engineering, 478th Aeronautical Systems Wing (F-22), Aeronautical Systems Center, WPAFB
2004-2007 Chief Engineer, F-22 SPO, Aeronautical Systems Center, WPAFB
2003-2004 Chief, Special Test Mission Division, Directorate of Operations, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, WPAFB
1999-2003 Chief Engineer, Aeronautical Enterprise Program Office, Aeronautical Systems Center, WPAFB
1998-1999 Deputy Director of Engineering and Mission Systems Integrated Product Team Lead, Joint Strike Fighter Support Office, Aeronautical Systems Center, WPAFB
1996-1998 Platform Integration Team Lead, Joint Airborne Signals Intelligence Program Office, Aeronautical Systems Center, WPAFB
1982-1996 Numerous assignments in Air Force systems program offices, Aeronautical Systems Division (ASD), WPAFB
2001 MBA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1987 MSAE, University of Dayton
1982 BSAAE, Purdue University