William A. Davis, Jr.
William A. Davis Jr. graduated from the School of Engineering in 1950 and was hired as a test engineer with the Charleston Naval Shipyard. After four years in Charleston, he moved to Huntsville, Ala., to begin work as a civilian with the U.S. Army and the fledgling missile defense industry. He became a project engineer with the HAWK air defense system’s research and development program.
In 1963 he initiated research in high energy lasers and in 1966 he was awarded the Sloan Fellowship and received his master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Davis returned to Huntsville and began work again with the U.S. Army Missile Command. In 1971 he became director of the Army Advanced Ballistic Missile Defense Agency’s Huntsville office and in 1975 he became the first director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Advanced Technology Center. In 1977 he was named program manager for the Ballistic Missile Defense Program. He was the senior civilian in a 500-person organization with a $300 million budget for systems and advanced technology programs.
After retiring from the government, he served as vice president of space defense for Teledyne Brown Engineering Inc. He left TBE in 1986 to accept a grant from Carnegie Mellon to write two books on ballistic missile defense and to begin consulting with several companies and government agencies.
Davis’ many awards include a Department of the Army Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service and a Presidential Award for Meritorious Civilian Service. He was also proud of the time he served on the School of Engineering’s Committee of Visitors. He was a member of the Fred J. Lewis Society.