Iowa State University

Inside Iowa State
March 7, 1997

Wilsons endow faculty chair

by Skip Derra
A $1 million gift from T.A. Wilson, former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of The Boeing Co., and his wife, Grace, of Seattle, has endowed a faculty chair in the College of Engineering. The chair gives preference to the departments of civil engineering and aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics.

"Iowa State's College of Engineering is creating a new learning-based environment that will prepare students to meet the engineering challenges of the 21st century," said Engineering Dean James Melsa. "This gift helps the college build a faculty with expertise in both engineering and teaching."

T. A. Wilson received his degree in 1943 in aeronautical engineering. Grace Wilson completed hers in applied art in 1944.

Following his graduation from Iowa State, T. A. Wilson immediately joined The Boeing Co. He left briefly, in 1946- 47, to teach engineering at Iowa State and played a role in the development of the new aeronautical engineering department, now the aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics department.

The first Boeing airplane to have a significant Wilson imprint was the B-47 swept-wing bomber. He became project engineer for the B-52 program during its latter stages.

Wilson then managed the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile program that established Boeing as a leader in multi- contractor systems integration work of vast size and complexity. In 1963, he was elected a Boeing vice president. A year later, he was put in charge of operations and planning for Boeing corporate headquarters. In 1965, he was named executive vice president and became president in 1968. In 1969, he also was elected chief executive officer, and in 1972, he became chairman of the board. He continued to serve on the board until 1993.

Wilson's gift is part of Campaign Destiny: To Become the Best.

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