C. Wendell Mead
Pioneer of Ballistic Missile Defense
Inducted in 2012
Charles Wendell Mead’s ability to find solutions to complex missile defense problems, his high standards of excellence and his natural curiosity have contributed to significant advances in our nation’s defense programs, making him a pioneer in ballistic missile defense. One of his major career accomplishments was the development of proprietary ballistic missile defense simulation software, BMD TRADES, a program proven to accurately run and analyze complex, real-world missile defense systems and threat engagement scenarios.
Growing up on a small cotton farm in Blountsville, Ala., Mead was the first in his family to graduate from high school and the first to attend college. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Auburn University in 1963. After graduation, he accepted a position with NASA’s Propulsion and Vehicle Engineering Laboratory at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. NASA awarded him a scholarship, which afforded him the opportunity to earn his master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Auburn University in 1966.
In 1968, Mead joined the U.S. Army Advanced Ballistic Missile Defense Agency. In 1977, the Army selected him to head a pivotal study on the feasibility of missile-to-missile defense, which would alter our country’s defense efforts and the course of his career. This study began his relentless pursuit of a simulation model that could assimilate data to create a wide variety of end-to-end ballistic missile defense scenarios and strategies. He made substantial contributions to historical technology development programs. While working for the Army, Mead was nominated for the prestigious Sloan Fellows Program, and he earned a master’s of management from Stanford University in 1979.
After spending more than a decade leading SRS Technologies in Huntsville, Mead ventured out on his own to establish AGRI, Inc. in 1990. As chief executive officer and chief technical director of the company, he produced the Ballistic Missile Defense Technical Requirements Assessment & Design Evaluation Simulation. BMD TRADES, his greatest and most influential engineering contribution, is used for design and test of current and future BMD systems against realistic potential threat scenarios.
In 2010, Mead donated the simulation software, as well as its source code, to Auburn University’s Department of Aerospace Engineering. The model will provide engineering students with a hands-on training tool in ballistic defense analysis, simulation and evaluation. The contribution will ensure the continued impact of his life’s work in ballistic missile defense. Mead serves on Auburn University’s Department of Aerospace Engineering Advisory Committee and the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council. He received the Distinguished Auburn Engineer Award in 2010.
Mead currently serves on a 16-member committee of the National Academy of Science commissioned to evaluate ballistic missile defense and make recommendations to Congress on all elements of the system architecture and technology. The committee utilizes Mead’s BMD TRADES as a principal tool for analysis.
Mead lives in Arab, Ala. with his wife, Angela. They are the proud parents of four sons: Mike, Marty, Matt and Marc who hold advanced degrees from prestigious medical, law and business programs at UAB/Tulane (Medical), Harvard (Law), and Duke (2 MBAs), respectively.