photo of jerry mcdowell

Jerry L. McDowell

Deputy Laboratory Director/Executive Vice-President for National Security Programs, Sandia National Laboratories (Retired)

B.S. ASE 1974, The University of Texas at Austin
M.S. ASE 1975, The University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D. ASE 1979, The University of Texas at Austin

Jerry McDowell retired in 2015 from Sandia National Laboratories after a 34.5 year career that culminated in the position of Deputy Lab Director and Executive Vice-President. At Sandia he had executive responsibility for over 5,000 employees and a budget in excess of $1.5B.

He received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.

McDowell’s professional career began in 1972 at the NASA Johnson Space Center as a COOP/Graduate Intern in the Engineering Analysis Directorate supporting Space Shuttle design/development. He spent a year at Vought Missiles and Space Division supporting classified space programs and then 34.5 years at Sandia National Laboratories. In the first decade of his career at Sandia he provided engineering analysis support to a wide range of hypersonic rocket, missile and reentry vehicle programs. The last two decades McDowell worked in management, which included executive responsibility for the Nuclear Weapons program and support to the DoD, NASA, and various intelligence agencies in areas of conventional strike (kinetic and non-kinetic); missile defense; information/cyber operations; ISR; counter- and non-proliferation; and intelligence support.

His primary technical work was in the design, development and flight testing of hypersonic weapons (offensive and defensive). In his management roles McDowell was able to formulate strategic plans and commit resources to a deeper understanding of the evolution in warfare from nuclear to precision conventional strike, information warfare, space-based operations, and real-time intelligence/surveillance.

McDowell has served on the UT Austin ASE/EM External Advisory Committee, the USAF Scientific Advisory Board, and supported the DoD Defense Science Board. He is an Associate Fellow of AIAA. He is the recipient of the National Nuclear Security Administration Silver Medal, the USAF Order of the Nucleus, and the US Navy Fleet Ballistic Missile Achievement Award. The UK Atomic Weapons Establishment recognized his contributions to the US/UK Mutual Defense Treaty.

He lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with his wife Tara. They are blessed with three grown children and seven grandchildren. In retirement McDowell enjoys time with family, traveling and reading. He served on the University of New Mexico Hospital Board of Trustees from 2013 to 2019.