Mike Ballard ('83) | Physics

mike ballard

Senior applications analyst,
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth

A typical work day for Mike Ballard might include a 3 a.m. conference call with European and Australian partners in the aerospace industry or it could include tinkering with the ejection seat design on an F-22 fighter jet.

Whatever the job calls for, Mike is up to the task. And it all started in the Physics Department at ACU.

Along the way I moved from working on the processes for developing the 3D data to the organization, management and collaboration on all the engineering data for the F-35.

Mike earned a degree in engineering physics from ACU in 1983. He quickly was admitted to Texas A&M University's graduate school in mechanical engineering and got his master's degree in 1987.

Nowadays, he puts all that knowledge to use as an applications analyst senior staff member at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth. Mike credits the education and nurturing he received at ACU for making the journey possible.

"I've been prepared well," he said. "I think that ACU's family atmosphere and in particular the Physics Department's close work with the students and involvement in research are exceptional."

A changing field

During the 22 years that Mike has worked at Lockheed Martin, the company and its aircraft have changed dramatically. Mike's knowledge base and skills have grown along with the changes.

When he first arrived at the facility in 1987, the F-16 fighter was in full production.

"I worked in a group whose task was to devise and implement a fully 3D computer model of new designs," he said.

At first, the work involved modifications to the F-16 but later the technology was applied to the F-22, A-12, F-2 and F-35.

"Along the way I moved from working on the processes for developing the 3D data to the organization, management and collaboration on all the engineering data for the F-35," Mike said.

Mike's job also includes an international collaboration on the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35), using the same tools. He also helped design the ejection seat rocket sled for the F-22.

Mike's work is hardly mundane. Not only does he play an important role in national defense, he also draws on the skills and knowledge gained as a student at ACU. Apparently, his bosses aren't the only ones who are impressed.

In addition to his job, Mike served for many years as a development planning council chairman for the CATIA Operator's Exchange. That's an organization for companies that use Computer Aided Three Dimensional Interactive Application 3D solid modeling software.

As if that weren't enough, he also has served as a visiting committee member for ACU's Physics Department. He active in the church, serving as a deacon and now an elder at South Main Church of Christ in Weatherford.

Mike could give any number of reasons he cherishes his ACU experience. But one quality stands out.

"It was the close relationship with the professors that was most helpful," he said. "I would definitely recommend ACU to anyone looking at physics as a course of study."

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