Albert D. Wheelon Biography
Dr. Albert D. Wheelon Ramo Founders Award
Retired Chairman and CEO, Hughes Aircraft Company
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Dr. Albert D. Wheelon spent his life in the world of science and advanced technology.

His first work was focused on guidance systems for long range ballistic missiles and early space projects at TRW, Inc. In addition, he did original research on radio wave propagation and fluid flow, while also teaching as a visiting professor at UCLA.

Dr. Wheelon joined the CIA in 1962 and served as the Deputy Director for Science and Technology until 1966. During this time, he established the Agency's broad program in research and development for the collection and analysis of technical intelligence. For this work he was awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

Wheelon joined the Hughes Aircraft Company in 1966 as Vice President for Engineering. Four years later, he took on the responsibility for building the Hughes Space and Communications Group. Over the next fifteen years, this group built a wide variety and large number of military and scientific satellites. They also produced more than 50% of the world's commercial communications satellites.

In 1986 he was named Executive Vice President for the Company at large and in 1987 was named Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Hughes, a high technology company with 80,000 employees. He retired in May, 1988. He was appointed a visiting professor and lectured at MIT in 1989.

Dr. Wheelon had a distinguished record of public service. He has served on the Defense Science Board and the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. In 1986 he was named to the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident. He is a trustee of the California Institute of Technology, and the Rand Corporation.

He published more than thirty scientific papers on applied physics and a book on applied mathematics. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the IEEE and the AIAA.

Dr. Wheelon received a B.S. in Engineering from Stanford University in 1949 and a Ph.D. in Physics from MIT in 1952. While at MIT, he was a teaching fellow in physics and a research associate in the electronics laboratory.

Dr. Wheelon passed away on Friday, Sept 27, 2013.


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  • Ramo Founders
  • 2013
  • For outstanding contributions to aircraft, spacecraft, and communication satellite technology that enhanced national security and strengthened the U.S. economy.