Alumni Plummer, Miller Win 2005 Draper Prize for Pioneering DoD Satellite Work
On February 21, James W. Plummer, EE '53, received the Charles Stark Draper Prize from the National Academy of Engineering—one of the world's preeminent awards in engineering—for his pioneering work in the top-secret Corona Project.
Another Clark School of Engineering alumnus, Edward A. Miller, (ME '50), also received the award for his work on the same project. Mr. Miller spoke to Clark School students and faculty on February 22.
The Draper Prize, in the words of the NAE, “…honors an engineer whose accomplishment has significantly impacted society by improving the quality of life, providing the ability to live freely and comfortably, and/or permitting the access to information.”
Plummer and Miller were among five members of the Corona Project to be presented with the award. Mr. Plummer went on to become Under Secretary for the Air Force and Mr. Miller went on to become Assistant Secretary of the Army for Research and Development. Both led highly successful corporate careers as well.
The Corona Project (1959 to 1972) created the field of satellite surveillance, providing vital photographic information that permitted the United States to gauge the nuclear threat posed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War and pursue more effective foreign policies. Mr. Plummer served as project manager and Mr. Miller as project engineer. Their team accomplished the first successful recovery of a man-made object from earth orbit.
Previous Draper Prizes recognized those who pioneered or developed personal computer networking, the global positioning system, fiber optics and other major engineering advances.
February 26, 2005