Wanda M. Austin
President and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, a federally funded research and development center, Dr. Wanda M Austin uses her understanding of mathematics and systems engineering to drive a leading facility for the national security space systems for the United States. Austin was born in the Bronx, New York City, New York in 1954. Her parents felt that education was integral to her success in the future. Growing up she was involved in church activities and the Girl Scouts and attended prestigious Bronx High School of Science.
Earning her bachelors in mathematics from Franklin and Marshall College in Pennsylvania, a Master’s in mathematics and systems engineering from the University of Pittsburg, Austin joined the Aerospace Corporation in 1982 as an entry level engineer. Never one to shy away from hard work and difficult problems she was part of the teams that worked on the GPS satellite constellation, the Pentagon’s global network of strategic communications satellites, and Air Force satellite communications. While working on these projects Austin earned her doctorate in systems engineering from the University of Southern California and continued to work her way up the ranks at Aerospace.
Austin became CEO of Aerospace on January 1, 2008. She has continued to strive to meet the needs of National Reconnaissance Office the government organization that operates spy satellites as well as supporting missions carried out by private businesses, such as Hawthorne’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX. Scientists and engineers at Aerospace have the responsibility of overseeing the technical side of contracts awarded to defense firms.
In 2010 Austin was appointed to the Defense Science Board and 2014 she was appointed to the NASA Advisory Council. Austin also serves on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. She also has received many accolades and awards including the 2012 Horatio Alger Award and the National Intelligence Medallion for Meritorious Service.
Beyond being internationally recognized for her work in systems engineering Austin wants to serve as an inspiration to the next generation of potential STEM professionals and encouraging people to pursue careers in science and engineering. Under her direction Aerospace Corporation is involved in MATHCOUNTS, US FIRST Robotics, and Change the Equation.
Written by Angela Goad