2016 Keynote Speaker: Tom Mueller
ENGINEERING DESIGN EXPO KEYNOTE ADDRESS
April 29, 2016 2:30 p.m.
Bruce M. Pitman Center
From Idaho Logger to SpaceX Founding Member
Tom Mueller’s story of how his interest in science led him to become an engineer and pursue a career in rocket engine development. Through his activities in professional and amateur rocket engine development he met Elon Musk, and helped found SpaceX as the Vice President of Propulsion. Tom’s talk will also include insights into what SpaceX is doing now and future plans.
About Tom Mueller
Tom Mueller, Propulsion Chief Technology officer at SpaceX, has more than 26 years of propulsion development experience and is one of the world's foremost rocket engine designers. As one of SpaceX’s founding members, he is responsible for building and managing SpaceX’s propulsion development group which develops propulsion systems and engines for both the Falcon launch vehicles and the Dragon spacecraft. Prior to joining SpaceX, Tom spent 15 years at TRW where he managed the Propulsion and Combustion Products department. Tom was responsible for liquid rocket engine development activities and served as a lead engineer for development of the TR-106 LOX/hydrogen engine that developed 650,000 pound of thrust.
While at SpaceX, Tom has led development of the Merlin rocket engine, the highest-performing US-made hydrocarbon engine ever developed and the first American hydrocarbon booster engine built in 40 years. More recently, Tom has focused on development and flight operations of the Merlin 1D engine, a 170,000 pound thrust engine that improves the performance and reliability of the engines for Falcon 9, and has the highest thrust to weight ratio of any flight qualified booster engine. Tom is also currently involved in development of new propulsion systems, including the next generation Raptor engine and Mars systems to further improve the reliability and reduce the cost of access to space, and eventually enable human life to be interplanetary.
Tom has a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from Loyola Marymount University and a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Idaho. He has received many awards, including an Honorary Doctorate degree from LMU, and the TRW Chairman's Award, the company's most prestigious award for technical achievement. He holds several US patents in propulsion technology.