Volume 19 - October 16, 2008 - Pielke\'s Perspective

People in the Spotlight: an Interview with Norman R. Augustine

bridges vol. 22, July 2009 / People in the Spotlight

By Caroline Adenberger

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norman_r_augustine.jpgNorman R. Augustine

Norman R. Augustine is one of the "Fifty Great Americans" living, according to the Library of Congress and Who's Who in America . A quick Google search of his name results in more than half a million matches for the retired chairman and former CEO of the Lockheed Martin Corporation .

In addition to his successful career in corporate America, Augustine has served in key government positions under two US presidents, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. He was the assistant secretary for research and development of the Army from 1973 to 1975, and then undersecretary of the Army from 1975 to 1977.

Today, although he considers himself "retired," Augustine serves on countless governmental advisory boards. He also served for 16 years on the President¹s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under both presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. In 1990, he led the Advisory  Committee on the Future of the US Space Program, and in 2005 he was assigned chairman of the National Academies commission that produced the  landmark report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing  America for a Brighter Economic Future ."

Just recently, in May 2009, he was again called by the White House to chair another high-level panel. He is currently leading the committee that is reviewing, and will determine the future of, the US Human Space Flight Plans. The panel¹s final report and its recommendations are expected at the end of August this year.

Augustine, who attended Princeton University where he graduated with a bachelor of science in aeronautical engineering, magna cum laude, and a master of science in engineering, was interviewed by bridges regarding his views on and recommendations for the future of science and engineering in the United States.

bridges: You have underlined repeatedly how important it is to sow the seeds of interest in science and engineering early in childhood. Can you tell me a little bit about your own upbringing? Who planted the science seed in you?

Augustine: I actually consider myself a bad example of the points that I am trying to make with regard to early science and engineering education. I grew up in Colorado, always loved the mountains, and wanted to become a forest ranger. It was not until high school that I discovered my interest for science and mathematics. I was reasonably good at science but always very good in mathematics, kind of a natural.

It was my grandfather who was really into science. Although he had only a fourth grade education, he made models of how the planetary system works, and so on. I consider him one of those brilliant men who never received the right education to make best use of their talents. If there was anyone from whom I "inherited" my interest for science, I guess that would be him.

When I got to college, engineering seemed to be a reasonable thing to study. However, it wasn't always a clear path to me. Even at college age I was still considering forestry as an option. Eventually, I followed some study advisors who recommended aerospace engineering to me.

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