From engineer to marine scientist to rocket scientist, alumnus Bill Seufzer’s career has taken him on an incredible journey since his graduation from MSOE.
Seufzer earned his electrical engineering degree in 1983 and credits the hands-on training he received in class labs for setting him up for success. “Learning by doing and having to write out reports not only helped me with the learning process, but I believe it taught me how to break down and explain complex things to others,” said Seufzer.
Bill started his career as an avionics system engineer and US Air Force officer at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Ohio. As an Air Force engineer, he developed an interest in computer programming and simulation. During that time, he and a coworker thought it might be fun to also learn how to scuba dive. Learning that skill ended up helping him uncover a passion for marine science that would ultimately lead him down a new career path.
One of his first diving adventures was participating in Project Ocean Search, an educational and research project led by Dr. Richard Murphy and Jean-Michel Cousteau, the son of famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.
“A group of 30 of us stayed on a small island in the British Virgin Islands. Each day there were scuba and snorkeling excursions. We learned ocean ecology and earth science and helped provide information for the research project. It was a life-changing experience that led me to pursue graduate work in marine science,” said Seufzer.
Just before attending grad school, Seufzer got the opportunity to travel to Paris to meet Jacques Cousteau and his family. Seufzer then started working towards his Ph.D. in Marine Science, focusing on a computational project that combined plant physiology, artificial intelligence, ecology, and high-performance computing.
That work would later open the door to NASA. In 1997 while finishing his Ph.D., Seufzer began working as a contractor supporting the Data Analysis and Visualization Branch and the Atmospheric Sciences Data Center at NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia.
In 2003, Seufzer became a computational scientist with NASA and played a pivotal role working on the Electron Beam Free Form Fabrication (EBF3) project.
“For the EBF3 project, I wrote about 15,000 lines of MATLAB® code to control and automate the electron beam welder. My involvement led to rides in the NASA zero-gravity C-9 (AKA vomit comet), three patents, one of which I authored, and development of SHAZAM, a laser measurement system to measure deposition height. SHAZAM played a key role in fabricating NASA’s first printed full-scale upper-stage rocket nozzle that fired for 90 seconds.”
It also led Seufzer to be named NASA Langley's chief information security officer (CISO) in 2020. “My job was to help bridge the gap between the worlds of cybersecurity and mission success. I’ve learned a lot of cybersecurity in a short time from some fantastic professionals,” he said.
After being the CISO for two and a half years, Bill will be starting a new position in 2023 that takes further advantage of his engineering and science background. “I’m going to work within the Science Mission Directorate as an embedded cyber professional. I’m really looking forward to being closer to the science,” he said.
Out of all these incredible career and life experiences, Seufzer’s most prized accomplishment is his family. “My wife Mary and I have two kids and life with them has been amazing,” he said. When he’s not working, he’s playing the role of supportive and involved soccer, figure skating, dance, band, and musical theatre dad—a role he values and cherishes beyond all his career accolades.