Wanda Austin Receives 2022 ISE Distinguished Alumni Award – USC Viterbi


Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Chair Maged Dessouky presents Wanda Austin with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Image/Nicole Lewis.

Wanda Austin, former interim president of the University of Southern California, ex-chief executive officer of the Aerospace Corporation, and the holder of a USC Viterbi Ph.D., received the ISE Distinguished Alumni Award for her many contributions to USC and the field over the years.

Maged Dessouky, chair of the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, presented her the award Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at Town and Gown. Austin, who is internationally known for her expertise in aeronautics and systems engineering, has left an indelible mark.

In August 2018, she was appointed interim president and became the first woman and African American to lead USC. During her leadership of the university, Austin established the President’s Culture Commission and launched the USC Office of Professionalism and Ethics, among other efforts to strengthen USC’s commitment to accountability, wellness and transparency.

That same year, Austin received the USC Presidential Medallion.

In addition to leading USC through a crucial transition period, and being awarded the highest honor USC has to offer, Austin has a remarkable reputation and successful career.

Wanda Austin

Image/Nicole Lewis

She is a co-founder of MakingSpace, Inc., a systems engineering and leadership development consultant and motivational speaker. She is also the former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the application of science and technology toward critical issues affecting the nation’s space program.

From January 2008 until October 2016, Austin led the organization’s 3600 employees and annual managed revenues of $950 million at 17 US locations. As Aerospace’s sixth president, she was the first woman and the first African American in its 57-year history.

Austin served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology until January 2017, advising President Barack Obama in areas where an understanding of science, technology and innovation was key to forming effective US policy.

She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Chevron Corp. and Amgen Inc.

Growing up in New York City, Austin attended The Bronx High School of Science, then earned a BA in mathematics from Franklin & Marshall College, MS degrees in systems engineering and mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh and a Ph.D. in systems engineering from USC.

Published on June 23rd, 2022

Last updated on June 23rd, 2022

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