Paul J. Hommert
Executive Vice President and Deputy Laboratories Director
In recognition of his outstanding contributions in the area of national security
National security remains a top concern as the United States faces diverse threats on multiple fronts. Helping solve the complex challenges is Paul Hommert, who feels that engineering — particularly engineering education— is a key underpinning to a strong economy and a safe nation.
“Our ability to bring new technologies to the marketplace and compete in the global economy is critical,” he explains. “The technological superiority of our conventional forces and our nuclear deterrent is clearly at the core of our national security. Our strength in these areas directly depends upon the prowess of our engineering and the continued excellence of our nation’s science. The work of our outstanding engineering and science institutions such as Purdue, which continue to innovate in education and research, is essential.”
Hommert began his career in energy research. However, when work in this area began to decline in the 1980s, his career took a different direction. “Fortunately, I was at an institution (Sandia National Laboratories) where I could easily make the transition to national security work,” Hommert says. “In this field, I encountered a wide range of new challenges that continue to be very dynamic.”
Throughout his career in defense, Hommert has contributed his expertise to a wide variety of crucial projects. He has led various nuclear research initiatives, overseen nuclear weapons programs, and also led the Applied Physics Division at Los Alamos National Laboratories. This division is responsible for nuclear weapon design and assessment, weapon performance code development, and weapon science support.
Hommert also initiated and led the largest engineering mechanics computer code development effort in the country, which is now a sustaining program involving many groups across the nation (including a few from Purdue).
Currently, he is one of three deputy directors reporting to the director of Sandia National Laboratories, which employs approximately 8,500 people and manages about $2.3 billion in work annually. In this role, Hommert oversees engineering support and design for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, among other responsibilities.
“I’ve been fortunate in my career to have been presented with challenging opportunities in many dimensions, from the technical work in energy research, engineering simulation, and nuclear weapons, to the leadership challenges of working abroad and in different National Laboratories,” Hommert says.”