College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Aerospace Engineering alumna, industry professional, aviation ambassador Vera Martinovich passes away

Vera Martinovich standing beside Douglas DC-3
Vera Martinovich standing beside Douglas DC-3
Matt Hagen Photography, courtesy of the University of Washington Foster School of Business

Vera Martinovich, an influential alumna of the Department of Aerospace Engineering, a member of the department’s Industrial Advisory Council (IAC) and a respected aviation professional, passed away April 17.

Vera MartinovichMartinovich earned a B.S. in aerospace engineering from Iowa State in 1988 and since 2014 worked as an engineering manager at Boeing. Some of her most recent duties included working on the Future Flight Deck Team in Boeing Commercial Airplanes Product Development. Her work included oversight of flight controls, handling qualities, avionics, and systems architecture for the next all-new flight deck. Previous experience at Boeing was as an engineer in flight controls and aircraft handling qualities. Her airplane programs included the F-15 Eagle fighter jet, the AV-8B Harrier ground attack craft, the V-22 Osprey multi-role combat craft and the Boeing 777 and 787 commercial aircraft.

Vera Martinovich in Make To Innovate Lab visit looking at student project
Martinovich (left) discussing a student project in an AerE Industrial Advisory Council visit to the department’s Make To Innovate Lab

Martinovich’s director at Boeing, Director of Product Development Joe Keegan, said in comments to the company, “Vera will be remembered as a great friend, leader and mentor with enduring passion for people and aviation.” He went on to point out, “Vera was a lifelong learner, always seeking opportunities to sharpen her skills in human factors, organizational development and systems engineering. She spent much of her personal time learning in any way she could make herself a better leader and mentor,” and that “she lived and breathed aviation outside of work” as well.

That passion for aviation was evidenced by being an active private pilot, and her love of flying vintage planes, including the B-25 Mitchell World War II bomber and the venerable Douglas DC-3 civilian craft. She would often provide ride experiences to the public with classic aircraft. She also enjoyed flying aerobatic planes and held an FAA certification in Airline Transport Pilot Multi-Engine.

Vera Martinovich in DC-3 cockpit
Martinovich in the cockpit of a classic airplane, where she was often found when not at work for Boeing. Matt Hagen Photography, courtesy of the University of Washington Foster School of Business

In addition to her Iowa State degree, she held an M.S. in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.A. in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University and an MBA in business administration and management from the University of Washington Foster School of Business.

As part of Iowa State’s Department of Aerospace Engineering IAC she was instrumental in helping to guide department programs and policies that included student curriculums and key research, educational and organizational input.

“Most of all,” said Keegan, “Vera was passionate about people and cared deeply for her team and colleagues. She mentored and nurtured many and had tremendous vision for the organization. She was always encouraging and positive about her team and had great confidence in their potential.”