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05-11-2013

Aerospace Corporation CEO Wanda Austin Receives Clarkson University Honorary Degree

Wanda M. Austin, president and chief executive officer of the Aerospace Corporation, a leading architect for the nation’s national security space programs, received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's 120th Commencement on Saturday, May 11.

Wanda M. Austin, president and chief executive officer of the Aerospace CorporationAustin is internationally recognized for her work in satellite and payload system acquisition, systems engineering, and system simulation.

The degree was awarded for her "commitment to engineering and creating secure communications between ground stations on Earth and satellites operating in orbit, for her dedication to mathematics and the study of system dynamics yielding novel modeling tools that analyze real-world data, and for her leadership that is inspiring future generations of scientists, mathematicians and engineers."

Saying she was, “honored to meet the inspired -- and inspiring -- graduates,” Austin applauded Clarkson’s administration, faculty and staff for their commitment to ensuring an outstanding education.

She added, “Your focus on leading innovation and benefitting humanity provides the graduates with the balance of tools needed to become our future leaders.”

Acknowledging that Clarkson has the second highest percentage of students who serve in ROTC, Austin said, “Special congratulations and thanks for developing one of the best Army and Air Force ROTC programs in the nation.”

As a CEO, she said she’s traveled the world meeting -- and learning from-- lots of talented people. And speaking directly to the graduates, she assured them that they, too, would become “the leaders and problem solvers of the future.”

Austin said that, as the recipient of an honorary degree and a mom, she put together a list of the top ten lessons she’s learned. Drawing cheers and applause from the graduates, she said the list is short enough to Tweet:

10. Get a Job
9. Commit to your education – commit to continuous learning
8. Listen twice as much as you talk
7. Maintain a work/life balance; work is not the meaning of life
6. Vote!
5. Make peace, not war-- seek win-win solutions
4. Do what you love-- find your passion and your voice
3. Think globally
2. Give back more than you receive
1. Get a job! Have a plan to become self-sustaining

The Aerospace Corporation is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the objective application of science and technology toward the solution of critical issues affecting the nation’s space program. It has nearly 4,000 employees and annual revenues of more than $850 million.

Austin previously was senior vice president of the company’s National Systems Group, which supports the national security space and intelligence community. Prior to that, Austin served as the company’s senior vice president of the Engineering and Technology Group.

Before joining Aerospace, Austin was a member of the technical staff at Rockwell International.

She served on President Obama’s Review of Human Spaceflight Plans Committee in 2009, and in 2010 was appointed to the Defense Science Board.

Austin earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Franklin & Marshall College, master’s degrees in systems engineering and mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh, and a doctoral degree in systems engineering from the University of Southern California.

She is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the International Academy of Astronautics, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She also serves on the board of directors of the Space Foundation, and on the board of trustees of the University of Southern California and the National Geographic Society.

Austin has received numerous awards and citations. Among them are the National Intelligence Medallion for Meritorious Service, the Air Force Scroll of Achievement, and the National Reconnaissance Office Gold Medal. In 2010, she received the AIAA von Braun Award for Excellence in Space Program Management, and is a recipient of the 2012 Horatio Alger Award.

Austin is committed to inspiring the next generation to study the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines and to make science and engineering preferred career choices. Under her guidance, the Aerospace Corporation has undertaken a number of initiatives in support of this goal, including participation in MathCounts, US FIRST Robotics, and Change the Equation. Austin was among the first CEOs to commit to Change the Equation.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/waustin2.jpg.]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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