Published: Mon Dec 6, 2010
For Commencement information, please visit the Commencement website.Allen Atkins, a Tennessee Tech University alumnus and retired vice president of technology for Boeing's Phantom Works, is the featured speaker at this fall's commencement ceremonies.
Commencement will be held for 771 graduates at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Hooper Eblen Center on campus.
Atkins is considered a pioneer of stealth technology and the driving force behind the development of low observable technology and weapons systems. His contributions made possible such aircraft as the F-22 Raptor and the F/A18 Hornet fighter jets.
Atkins grew up in Western Kentucky and said he had a natural fascination for mathematics and science. He earned his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1970, followed by a master of science degree in systems engineering in 1971 and a doctorate in engineering in 1975 – all from TTU. He was among the first people to earn a doctorate in engineering from TTU. He later received a master's of business administration degree from San Diego State University in 1995.
He began his career as a civilian in the U.S. Air Force's Aeronautical Division at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, from 1973 to 1980, rising to the rank of chief engineer. He then served the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, commonly called DARPA, from 1980 to 1987, rising to the position of Director of the AeroSpace Technology Office.
While at Wright-Patterson, Atkins worked on the Mini-Remotely Piloted Vehicles. Among them was the first electric vehicle, the first solar-powered version, the smallest RPV and the first RPV that was considered truly stealthy. Success of RPVs lead to other low observable technologies and stealth vehicles, such as the Have Blue Stealth Demonstrator which became the F-117 Stealth Fighter, Tacit Blue, second generation of Stealth Demonstrator, and the B-2 Stealth Bomber.
Atkins' work also included watercraft. He was the first chief engineer on the Sea Shadow, a first-generation stealth ship.
In recognition of his work, Atkins received the 1981 Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Award, the second-highest civilian award given by the Department of Defense.
Atkins' work in the private sector included serving as vice president and general manager with the McDonnell Aircraft Co. in St. Louis from 1987 to 1990 and McDonnell Douglas Technologies Inc. from 1990 to 1995, and as vice president, Product Application Technology, with the McDonnell Douglas Aerospace Co. from 1995 to 1997. After the merger of McDonnell Douglas with Boeing in 1997, he became vice president, Technology and Define Process, for Boeing Corp. at Phantom Works in St. Louis.
Atkins is the recipient of the Engineer of Distinction Award, the highest recognition given by TTU's College of Engineering, in 2002. In 2006, Atkins became the recipient of the 2006 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Tennessee Tech, the highest honor bestowed by the university's alumni association.
Following this commencement, TTU will have granted almost 69,000 degrees. Students graduating from TTU this fall hail from 30 states including Tennessee, 74 Tennessee counties and 13 countries. They represent 39 undergraduate fields of study and 22 graduate fields.