William H. Lawler
High-Flying Aerospace Credentials
Inducted in 2002
William H. Lawler is a prominent member of the University of Alabama Class of 1962. A graduate of the aerospace engineering department, Mr. Lawler left Tuscaloosa for a research engineer’s position with Boeing Aerospace in Seattle. His initial assignment was to develop minimum weight design algorithms for advanced space vehicles. Here, he began to acquire the tremendous credentials he sports within his industry, incorporating experience across every aspect of the military-aircraft business.
In 1964 Mr. Lawler returned to Alabama, to Boeing’s facility in Huntsville. His posts there included lead structural dynamics engineer for the Saturn V/Apollo launch vehicle; senior dynamicist for the Space Shuttle; and senior specialist engineer with the Assault Breaker missile program. He also contributed to the defining of space station Skylab’s structural-dynamic characteristics. During this period Mr. Lawler earned the M.B.A. degree from Alabama A&M University.
In 1981, Mr. Lawler, who is a native of Russellville, became affiliated with Boeing Military Airplane Company (BMAC), serving until 1985 in the Huntsville firm’s management ranks. Specifically, he was appointed chief engineer of automated test systems, having responsibility for the design, development, testing, and production of automated test equipment for military aircraft. In addition, while at BMAC Mr. Lawler completed the course of study at Boeing’s Senior Management Seminar (1983) and the Defense Systems Management College (1984).
The aerospace firm Northrop Grumman recruited Mr. Lawler to its top management ranks late in 1985. He relocated his family to California and from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s he was deeply involved in development of the B-2 “Stealth” Bomber, accepting ever more complex responsibilities. First, he oversaw in its entirety the development of B-2 support equipment. He went on to other positions with Northrop, among other things establishing the Operations Integration and Test unit at the B-2 final assembly facility in Palmdale, California. This unit, under Mr. Lawler’s expert direction, would plan and implement the very first flight of the “Stealth” Bomber, in July 1989. From 1989 to 1996 as vice president of design and analysis and later as chief engineer, then program manager for the overall B-2 Program, he directed the design and development of the B-2 from initial flight to delivery to the U.S. Air Force as an operational weapon system. Ultimately, Mr. Lawler became Northrop’s corporate vice president/executive vice president of the Integrated Systems and Aerostructures Sector, necessitating a move to Dallas in 1998. Sector sales exceeded $5 billion annually.
In February of 1999, Mr. Lawler rejoined the team at The Boeing Company, this time in Missouri, as the vice president and general manager of Business Development and Strategy for the Military Aircraft and Missile Systems Group, responsible for the group’s total business backlog and its strategic development, with annual sales of over $13 billion. He assumed his current post as the vice president and general manager of strategic operations and planning for the group in August of 2000.
The combination of engineering ability, business acumen, and “feel” for clients’ needs and interests that he brings to his tasks is unequalled in the industry. Mr. Lawler has authored numerous technical papers on structural dynamics and has lectured extensively on stealth technology at symposia around the globe. He has contributed to and appeared in numerous television documentaries on the B-2 and stealth technologies including the History Channel specials. An active member of several technical societies in the past, Mr. Lawler channels his current outside activities to teaching Sunday School classes and serving as a member of the Advisory Board for the University of Alabama Department of Aerospace Engineering.
Mr. Lawler and his wife, Marie (a native of Florence), reside in St. Louis, are the parents of three children (Susan, Jason, and Shannon), and have two grandchildren.