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March 22, 2007

Top NASA administrator to speak about history, future of aerospace engineering

Michael Griffin
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NASA's top administrator, Michael Griffin, will discuss the history and importance of aerospace education and research as the keynote speaker of the eighth William E. Boeing Distinguished Lecture at Purdue University.

His talk, "System Engineering and the Two Cultures of Engineering," is sponsored by the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and will be held in Stewart Center?s Fowler Hall at 1 p.m. on Wednesday (March 28). The event is free and open to the public.

"It is a great honor for Purdue to have someone of Michael Griffin's stature come to the campus to talk with our students and faculty," said Thomas Farris, head of the Purdue School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. "Griffin's talk will focus on the role of system engineering in modern society, with a focus on the development of the aerospace disciplines over the past century."

Nominated by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Griffin began his duties as the 11th administrator of NASA in 2005. As administrator, he leads the NASA team and manages its resources to advance the U.S. space exploration.

Griffin previously served as space department head at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. He also was president and chief operating officer of In-Q-Tel Inc., in Boston and served in several positions within Orbital Sciences Corp., in Dulles, Va., including chief executive officer of Orbital's Magellan Systems Division.

Earlier in his career, Griffin served as chief engineer and associate administrator for exploration at NASA and as deputy for technology at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization. He has been an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University and George Washington University, where he taught courses in spacecraft design, guidance and navigation, spacecraft attitude control, astrodynamics, and introductory aerospace engineering. He is the lead author of more than 24 technical papers, as well as the textbook, "Space Vehicle Design."

A registered professional engineer in Maryland and California, Griffin is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics, an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a fellow of the American Astronautical Society, and a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He is a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the AIAA Space Systems Medal and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given to a non-government employee.

Griffin received a bachelor's degree in physics from Johns Hopkins University, a master's degree in aerospace science from Catholic University of America and a doctorate degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. He also earned master's degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California, in applied physics from Johns Hopkins University, in business administration from Loyola College and in civil engineering from George Washington University. He is a certified flight instructor with instrument and multiengine ratings.

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 494-4192,

Source: Thomas Farris, (765) 494-5117,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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