For much of his professional career in systems engineering, James Goodrich, BSME ’72, worked on classified programs that he isn’t able to discuss, even after retiring last year as a vice president for Northrup Grumman. As a matter of public record, however, Goodrich’s vital role as a vice president and deputy project manager for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) is certainly worthy of note.
The far-reaching NPOESS program is charged with providing complete coverage of meteorological conditions for civil, military and scientific purposes though next-generation satellites. Circling the planet about once every 100 minutes, NPOESS is designed to collect, disseminate and process data about the Earth's weather, atmosphere, oceans, land and near-space environment, which aids in reducing the potential loss of human life and property by allowing more efficient disaster planning and response to severe weather conditions such as tornadoes and floods.
In addition, people can benefit from the satellite data in the areas of general aviation, agriculture and maritime activities. And the NPOESS will permit the military to capitalize on favorable weather conditions or avoid harsh weather conditions that could hinder maneuverability.
In recognition of his professional accomplishments as well as his support of LMU through the years, Goodrich will be honored with his name on the Seaver College of Science & Engineering Wall of Fame. Goodrich is a member (and past chair) of the Dean's Council for the College of Science and Engineering, and sits on the Dean’s Advisory Board.
As deputy program manager on NPOESS until 2003, Goodrich led a team of 125 technical specialists. Nothing in the textbooks can prepare someone for a project on the magnitude of NPOESS, Goodrich says, be he credits his education at LMU with helping him succeed nonetheless.
“My degree had an emphasis in thermodynamics, but when I graduated there weren’t a lot jobs available and I found one in analysis and design of satellites, which I found fascinating, but I had to learn a lot on the job,” says Goodrich. “It helped me that Loyola created an environment where you learned how to learn. Most of my career was working in a double E [electrical engineering] role, and I had only taken a couple classes, but the Loyola education taught you to dig in and research and think and not just give a flat answer. That was very beneficial to me.”
Illustrating his point with a personal note, Goodrich says, “We had five of my professors at our wedding. The faculty and students were extremely close. I remember Dr. Callahan would have barbeques at his house for all the engineering students. The close attention that these professors gave to their students, unlike at other schools, made a big difference. They were always available if you needed help.”