• Dr. Wanda Austin '75 addresses graduates and their families at F&M's Commencement in May 2017. Dr. Wanda Austin '75 addresses graduates and their families at F&M's Commencement in May 2017. Image Credit: Deb Grove

First African American & First Woman President & CEO, The Aerospace Corp.

Dr. Wanda M. Austin is an American businesswoman who is internationally recognized for her work in aeronautics and systems engineering. She is co-founder of MakingSpace Inc, a systems engineering and leadership development consultant and motivational speaker. She served as interim president of the University of Southern California for the 2018-2019 academic year, and led the institution through a crucial transition period. She is the former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corp., 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 3,600 employees and managed annual revenues of $950 million at 17 U.S. locations. She was the first woman and the first African American to lead the organization. 

Austin served on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology until January 2017, advising the President of the United States in areas where an understanding of science, technology and innovation was key to forming effective U.S. policy. Austin is a member of the Defense Science Board and the NASA Advisory Council. She is an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a counselor of the National Academy of Engineering, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is a trustee for the University of Southern California and on the Board of Directors for the Chevron Corporation and Amgen.

Austin attended The Bronx High School of Science, earned a B.A. in mathematics from Franklin & Marshall College, master's degrees in systems engineering and mathematics from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Ph.D. in systems engineering from the University of Southern California.

Austin is committed to inspiring the next generation to STEM disciplines. She is the author of Making Space: Strategic Leadership for a Complex World.


Read more about Wanda:

F&M Magazine Profile

USC - Interim President Bio

Chevron bio

NASA bio

LA Times Profile