Class of 1972
After graduating from Mississippi State University, Bill took a position in the petroleum industry as a field reservoir engineer. The work on ultra deep, high pressure wells in Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle was both exciting and dangerous.
While there, he earned a place in the very exclusive honorary “Four Mile Club” for his work on natural gas wells drilled deeper than 4 miles. Later Bill moved to the Gulf Coast and worked in offshore drilling and production from Alabama to Texas.
In 1986 a drop in the price of oil and natural gas forced Bill to make a career shift. He ended up in Huntsville, Alabama working at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) at a time when NASA was returning to flight after the Challenger Accident. Bill started as a reliability engineer and was quickly promoted to Lead Engineer managing the Problem Reporting and Corrective Action (PRACA) system for the Space Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) Project.
As the Lead he was responsible for making sure all hardware problems discovered during previous flights and pre-launch assembly and testing were properly assessed and cleared before each launch. In addition Bill manned a console at the Huntsville Operations Support Center (HOSC) during the 12 hours leading up to each launch.
Bill also served as the MSFC Safety Representative on the Booster Post-flight Assessment team at Kennedy Space Center where he would spend 10 days after each launch monitoring the disassembly and inspection of the Solid Rocket Boosters.
In 1992, as a result of specific actions Bill took that directly led to improvements in flight safety, the NASA Astronaut Corps recognized Bill with their highest award; the Astronauts Personal Achievement Award, also known as the Silver Snoopy.
The Silver Snoopy Award was developed and adopted by the Astronaut Corp during the Apollo program to help highlight the role of all team members in supporting space flight safety. The award was presented to Bill in a ceremony at Marshall Space Flight Center on September 8, 1992 by Astronaut Jeffery Hoffman.
Bill continued working on the Space Shuttle Program until 2002 when he became the MSFC Risk Management Lead. One of Bill’s last accomplishments on the Shuttle Program was the development of the MSFC Disaster Contingency Plan that was later used in the wake of the Columbia Accident to preserve data and information for the following investigation.
Bill left MSFC in 2005 and he now owns a residential and commercial building consulting firm in Madison, Alabama.
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