B.S., Aerospace Engineering, 1969
M.S., Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering, Purdue
Ph.D., Industrial and Systems Engineering, 1997
Joe Meredith grew up as an only child on a farm in a rural Richmond community. By age 10, he developed a fascination with flying after watching a neighbor build an airplane from scratch. Meredith was fortunate to have an uncle with connections to Goodyear who subsequently secured a flight for him on its infamous blimp. “From then on I knew I wanted to fly – that was my goal,” said Meredith.
Professionally he knew he wanted to be an engineer, and in 1965 Meredith became first generation to attend college at Virginia Tech. He enrolled in the aerospace program to better understand flight. Upon graduation he went on to pursue his master’s degree in aeronautics, astronautics, and engineering science at Purdue, the home to many astronauts. Meredith was drafted, but he was able to defer joining the service until he graduated. Then he entered the Air Force Officer Training School, where he failed his flight physical due to allergies, crushing his dreams of flying the blue skies. Newport News Shipbuilding called and Meredith was hired as a research engineer in fluid mechanics, and his computer skills led him to become computer systems department head.
Meredith’s impressive leadership skills soon earned him a spot in a general management development program. In 1983, Meredith was one of a handful of corporate executives to be accepted to the Defense Systems Management College (DSMC). Graduation from DSMC was a requirement to become a program manager of a major weapon system. In 1988, Meredith relocated to Washington D.C. to manage the shipyard’s engineering office. In 1991, he was back in Newport News managing the Integrated Logistics Support Department. After three years, cutbacks in defense spending forced a workforce reduction, and he became an entrepreneur working for IBM, DARPA, and other companies.
At 45, he accepted his dream job in Blacksburg – President of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. One of his long-term goals, to return to Blacksburg, a town where technology was thriving and new ideas abounded, was finally accomplished. Today, the 230-acre park is home to over 150 research, technology and support companies due to Meredith’s vision. The mission of the center, in collaboration with the university, is to advance research, education, and technology.
Meredith began another educational pursuit in 1997, returning to the classroom as a student. Twenty-seven years after he completed his master’s, Meredith obtained his Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech.
Select Awards and Recognition
New VA Leadership Award, 2008
Professional Leadership Award, Christiansburg-Blacksburg Rotary Club, 2011
Business Person of the Year Award, Blacksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce 2001