photo of Perry Whitten
Retired Senior Engineering Manager

Job Title

Retired from Lockheed Martin. Last position: Senior Engineering Manager for F-35 Test and Evaluation


Lockheed Martin Aeronautics


Fort Worth, TX

Why did you decide to pursue an aerospace engineering degree? 

I was interested in aviation from early in my youth and had an aptitude for math and science. As I was entering college, the Cold War and the space race with the Soviets was in high gear and the country needed engineers, so I was encouraged to pursue a technical field. The standard of living potential for engineering graduates was also very good.

What student projects/organizations were you involved within ASE/EM?

Sigma Gamma Tau

How did these groups help prepare you for your career?

My student organizations were the APO service fraternity and the Tejas Club. These organizations fostered leadership, scholarship, and friendship. 

Do you recommend any particular focus for students other than academics to improve themselves as potential candidates for jobs? If so, please explain.

Industry experience through internships, summer jobs, or co-op programs is very good to have, particularly in technical fields and professional organizations such as AIAA, NDIA, etc., to learn about the industry. Other training to develop are interpersonal skills, speaking, and writing that could be acquired through organizations such as Toastmasters, etc. Military training and experience is very valuable, if possible.

Are there courses at UT you wish you had taken? If so, which ones and why? 

Some business courses would have been helpful.

Who was your most influential ASE or EM professor and why?

John Westkaemper, M.J. Thompson, and S.W. Yuan were all equally important. They covered the spectrum of aeronautic elements.

What has been your most influential ASE or EM course and why?

The principles of high-speed aerodynamics and aircraft performance were the most useful. Non-aerospace courses in computer programming and technical writing were also very useful.

What advice would you give to our students?

Work hard at learning the fundamentals of your discipline. (The physics, not just the computer programs that model it.) When you graduate from UT, your learning has just begun, so be prepared, and be humble.

Do you have a favorite memory as a UT aerospace student?

The friendships developed with my fellow classmates.

List three things that most people don't know about you.

I have traveled extensively (all 50 states and 25 countries).

I'm a private pilot.

I have a twin brother (also a UT ASE alumni).