B.S. Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, Virginia Tech 1975
M.S. Public Administration, American University 1996

Keith Englander caught the “aviation bug” early in life. His father was a career naval officer and the family relocated several times in his early year. When he lived in Norfolk, the family would often visit the Naval Station Norfolk, today the world’s largest naval station. It was on that waterfront base that Englander first recalled becoming fascinated with fighter jets and other types of airplanes.

In high school, he was fascinated by the Gemini and Apollo programs, and decided then that he wanted to work in the space program or in aviation. Englander chose to attend Virginia Tech because of the excellent reputation of its aerospace and ocean engineering program and because he wanted to get back to Virginia. Once on campus, Englander came under the tutelage of Joseph Schetz, the Fred D. Durham Endowed Chair Professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering. “He was the one individual at Virginia Tech who had the most influence on me relative to the way I conduct myself as an engineer,” Englander said. “Joe set an example for me as to what a good engineer should be — technically astute and ethical.”

He graduated in 1975 with a bachelor’s of science degree in aerospace and ocean engineering, and went to work for the Navy as a civilian supervisory mechanical engineer. Shortly after the Challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986, he was selected by the Navy as its representative on a team to determine the feasibility of devising an escape system for shuttle flights. In 1988, he was named chief engineer (CHENG) for the A-6 Navy attack aircraft, a carrier-based jet; and in 1992 moved to the Department of Defense to work on the National Missile Defense Program, where he was systems engineering director for the Brilliant Pebbles space-based weapon program. He was eventually promoted to Technical Director for the National Missile Defense Program.

In 2001, he was promoted to Director of System Engineering and integration of the Missile Defense Agency, where he led a 500-person technical staff and managed a $300 million annual budget, coordinated missile defense efforts with foreign nations, and incorporated technological advances from the academic community into the missile defense program. Englander was named Director of Engineering in 2005, a role he continues in today. He is responsible for recruitment, training and retention of 2,000 engineers and scientists and serves as the technical spokesperson for the agency with the Department of Defense, State Department, Congress, and the international community.

Select Awards and Recognitions
Presidential Rank Distinguished Award
David R. Israel AIAA International Ballistic Missile Defense Achievement Award
National Defense Industrial Association Outstanding Leadership Award


Keith L. Englander