With an interest in the structural aspects of engineering design, 1963 civil engineering alumnus Jack McGuire never anticipated he would have a life-long career in aerospace engineering. But after 43 years at the Boeing Company, he can safely say the field has proved to be the place for him. His professional accomplishments and commitment to advancing the industry have led to many successes, including his most recent honor—being selected as a Tau Beta Pi Eminent Engineer.
McGuire, an Audubon native and Ames High School graduate, first became interested in aerospace engineering during his senior year of college. He wasn’t immediately sold on the idea after interviewing with a few aerospace companies, but after visiting airports and seeing the intricate designs within airplanes, he saw a way to connect his own interests to the field. In 1963, he moved to Seattle to begin working for Boeing.
As a junior engineer conducting structural analyses, McGuire got his first big project when the Boeing 737 was ordered into production in 1965. The 737 has since become one of the best selling airliners ever built, but to McGuire, it will always be the beginning of a career in innovative structural engineering.
“The 737 stands out to me as my most memorable program. It was my very first, and I was privileged to be involved in every phase of the program,” he says.
From structure analyses for initial and final designs to flight-testing and certification of the airplane, McGuire got a taste of all aspects of airplane design and manufacturing. Even after the plane was put into service in the airline industry, McGuire still had a role supporting customers who were flying the 737.
Since then, McGuire has gone through several aircraft research production and design programs, including the 757, 777, and the newest airplane, the 787 Dreamliner. He has also received several promotions along the way, including director of Structures Engineering in 1990 and director of Engineering Technology Development in 1999. In addition to overseeing all structural analysis advancements for Boeing commercial airplanes, he also introduced new employees to Boeing, bridging the gap from their college education to way Boeing designs products.
“There are 3,000 structural engineers in Boeing Commercial Airplanes who have a mixture of civil, aerospace, and mechanical engineering backgrounds,” explains McGuire. “Being able to integrate all those skills into one activity was a very satisfying part of my career.”
Due to McGuire’s long list of successes, the Iowa Alpha chapter of Tau Beta Pi (TBP) named him an Eminent Engineer during an induction ceremony in May. This honorable membership to TBP was established in 2011 to recognize the high achievements of alumni.
“I was thrilled and honored to be named a TBP Eminent Engineer,” says McGuire. “I have always had an interest in helping engineering organizations, students, and professionals alike. This seems like a crowning, concluding achievement to that activity, and a recognition of all the things I’ve done to try to advance the engineering profession.”
McGuire has long recognized the importance of education and continued his involvement with Iowa State. Currently, he is on two industry advisory boards, one for civil engineering and one for the Institute of Physical Research and Technology. He served for three years on the industry advisory board for mechanical engineering, six years on the engineering college advisory board, and also several years acting as the executive focal point between Boeing and Iowa State.
“I have always adamantly supported the idea that Iowa State programs are potential investments for Boeing, and the company has contributed funding for a variety of scholarships, advanced technology development, and projects on campus like the Virtual Reality Applications Center, Howe Hall, the Center for Non-destructive Evaluation, the solar car team and the steel bridge team. Boeing also hires many students as interns and full-time employees,” he says.
McGuire decided it was time to retire in 2006, but he soon found a clean break from engineering just wouldn’t work. He is now working part-time as a structural engineering consultant for Boeing, sitting in on design reviews and developing solutions to problems posed by the company’s new products. He also continues to promote safe structural design requirements and practices.
“With so many years of experience, I’ve learned a lot of things about engineering and Boeing as a company, and now I’d like to give back to the company by sharing that experience and knowledge with newer and less experienced engineers,” explains McGuire.
He is also leaving time for fun, spending time fishing and hunting, as well as making frequent trips to southern California to visit his two grandchildren, and to Ames for football games, to visit friends, and continue his contributions to Iowa State education.