Marquis Top Science, Technology and Engineering Professionals

Rusty Powell, PhD, PE

Title: Vice President of Engineering
Company: Axient
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

Rusty Powell, PhD, PE, Vice President of Engineering at Axient, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Engineers for dedication, achievements, and leadership in engineering administration.

With years of experience in aeronautical, mechanical and systems engineering to his credit, Dr. Powell has excelled as the vice president of engineering for Axient since 2023, a company that facilitates missions ranging from aerospace to cyberspace utilizing comprehensive analysis, strategic planning, and state-of-the-art technologies for both private civilian enterprises and government agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Department of Defense. In this position, he is responsible for providing guidance and support to the engineering and technical staff, offering his unique expertise to corporate development personnel, leading independent research and development work, and collaborating with the chief innovation officer to support strategic initiatives. Moreover, Dr. Powell has been active as an affiliate faculty member at Colorado Christian University since 2017.

Between 2021 and 2023, Dr. Powell worked as the vice president and general manager of space development and integration at Axient. He previously found success at Millennium Engineering and Integration as a corporate development specialist from 2015 to 2017, a program director in 2017, and both the executive director and chief engineer for the space and cyber systems business unit from 2018 to 2021. Dr. Powell was likewise recruited as an adjunct faculty member at National American University.

In the years prior, Dr. Powell served in the U.S. Air Force for more than 25 years, beginning his career as an aircraft armament systems specialist between 1988 and 1993. He was subsequently appointed as a high-speed systems engineer and program manager at the Air Force Research Laboratory in the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from 1999 to 2002, the B-1B lead engineer with the 28th Maintenance Operations Squadron at Ellsworth Air Force Base from 2002 to 2004, an assistant professor and deputy laboratory director at the U.S. Air Force Academy from 2004 to 2007, and the deputy chief for aviation programs in the Office of Military Cooperation for the U.S. Embassy in Astana, Kazakhstan in 2011. Soon thereafter, he advanced to the deputy chief of the tier II division and the chief of launch and range programs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico between 2009 and 2012. Dr. Powell completed his military service as the deputy for curriculum and assessment, an associate professor, and a thermal fluids systems curriculum chief at the U.S. Air Force Academy from 2012 to 2015.

To support his professional ambitions, Dr. Powell pursued an education at Colorado State University, from which he earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering, summa cum laude, as a distinguished graduate through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1997. He continued his academic efforts with a Master of Science in aeronautical engineering as a distinguished graduate at the Graduate School of Engineering and Management in the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1999. He concluded his studies at the Colorado School of Mines in 2009, graduating with a Doctor of Philosophy in engineering with a focus on combustion. In addition to these accomplishments, Dr. Powell garnered his certification as a professional mechanical engineer in Colorado.

Beyond his primary responsibilities, Dr. Powell has participated in numerous endeavors outside of his immediate circles. To support those in need, he has contributed to his local church as a member of the Council of Elders, the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association as a former board member, and Habitat for Humanity as a donor. He has also offered his wealth of knowledge to various papers, presentations, and articles published in scientific journals. Furthermore, Dr. Powell has maintained his affiliation with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics since 1999, a tenure in which he was designated as the director from 2019 to 2022 and the director of the propulsion and energy group since 2022.

In light of his impressive undertakings, Dr. Powell has accrued several accolades throughout his career.  The recipient of the McDonald Mentor Award from Tau Beta Pi, his stellar military service was recognized with decorations as Outstanding Engineer of the Year in the Junior Military Category by the U.S. Air Force in 2002, the Company Grade Officer of the Year in the 28th Bomb Wing by Ellsworth Air Force Base in 2003, and an Outstanding Academy Educator by the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2014. Dr. Powell was additionally distinguished as an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a fellow of the  Axient Fellows Alliance.

Dr. Powell has attributed his success to the guidance of exemplary mentors, his strong work ethic, his faith, and the unwavering support of his loving wife. Driven by his desire to best serve his company and country, he fondly recalls his contributions to a project that significantly expedited the delivery of space capabilities and the development of high-speed aircraft. He is also incredibly proud to witness his former students ascend to administrative roles in their respective fields. Looking toward the future, Dr. Powell hopes to continue forwarding his company’s engineering services initiatives, the mission of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the growth of his family in the coming years.

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