College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Vance Coffman and Dennis Muilenburg share their perspectives on aerospace engineering

Vance Coffman and Dennis Muilenburg address the crowd in Howe Hall.

Students and faculty gathered in Howe Hall on Wednesday afternoon to hear from two of the most prominent leaders in aerospace engineering. Vance Coffman ‘67, former CEO of Lockheed Martin and Dennis Muilenburg ’86, chairman, president, and CEO of The Boeing Company, shared their thoughts and perspectives on the aerospace industry.

The two industry leaders answered questions about their time at Iowa State, the lessons they’ve learned from the industry, and how they see the future of aerospace engineering.

“A hunger for learning is part of the culture at Iowa State,” Muilenburg said. “The value of hands-on learning and working together in teams is something that is stressed here. It’s part of the culture that I learned growing up here in Iowa.”

Vance Coffman discussed the importance of being innovators in the field off aerospace. “Innovating in the aerospace world is the life blood,” Coffman said. “If you’re not innovating, you’re not going to have the next product that your customers want. Without it, you become second place.”

Muilenburg discussed plans for the new Space Launch System (SLS) which aims to put the first humans on Mars.

“I think it’s an exciting time in the realm of space exploration,” Muilenburg said. “I’m hopeful that our country and our world will regain some of the momentum we had a few decades ago.”

Students were given a unique insight to the minds that have had a tremendous influence on aerospace engineering in the past 25 years.

In addition to the seminar, Muilenburg and Coffman also spent time with Iowa State students and toured the Make to Innovate laboratories.

Click here to view photos of the event.