• Credit: Lance Hayashida/Caltech Office of Strategic Communications

Caltech Awards International Aerospace Honor to Industry Leader

John Tracy, chief technology officer and senior vice president of engineering, operations, and technology for the Boeing Company, is the 2014 recipient of the International von Kármán Wings Award. The honor—bestowed annually by the Aerospace Historical Society, which is part of the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT)—acknowledges outstanding contributions by international innovators, leaders, and pioneers in aerospace.

The award recognizes Tracy for his technology and leadership contributions to technical and engineering excellence in the aerospace industry and for leadership in advanced structural and material technologies for commercial aviation, defense programs, and space systems.

"It is an honor for GALCIT and the Aerospace Historical Society to give the International von Kármán Wings Award to John Tracy, whose pioneering work with Boeing continues to transform the aerospace industry. His technical and functional excellence has resulted in transformative structural and material technologies for commercial and defense applications, which have significantly enhanced the reliability of the aerospace systems," says Guruswami (Ravi) Ravichandran, chair of the Aerospace Historical Society, director of GALCIT and the John E. Goode, Jr., Professor of Aerospace and professor of mechanical engineering at Caltech.

In his current position, Tracy oversees the development and implementation of Boeing's technology investment strategy and provides strategic direction to functions, business organizations, and initiatives involving more than 100,000 employees. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Royal Aeronautical Society, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

"John is passionate about everything aerospace; he loves the intellectual challenge of making it all work," says Boeing chairman and chief executive officer Jim McNerney. "The aerospace industry is stronger because John has been in it."

Ravichandran presented the Wings Award to Tracy at a gala banquet and awards ceremony on October 20 at the Caltech Athenaeum. Also recognized during the banquet was Morgane Grivel, a graduate student in Caltech's aeronautics program, who received the Shirley Thomas Academic Scholarship. The scholarship, which is named in honor of the Aerospace Historical Society's founder, has been awarded annually since 2010.

The Wings Award has annually honored aerospace pioneers for their achievements and role in shaping the aerospace industry for the last 30 years.

Recent recipients of the award include Neal Blue, chairman and CEO of General Atomics; Sir Martin Sweeting, executive chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.; and David Thompson, chairman, president, and CEO of Orbital Sciences Corporation.

Written by Shayna Chabner McKinney