2000 Distinguished Service Award: Thomas Hunter

// Engineering Physics

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Thomas O. Hunter
Senior Vice President for Defense Programs
Sandia National Laboratories
PhDNE ’78, MSNE ’76

In 1978, Thomas O. Hunter embarked on a career that would lead him to one of the top positions in the engineering industry. After completing his PhD at UW-Madison, he renewed his affiliation with Sandia National Laboratories. Now Hunter is the senior vice president of this U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory.

Hunter leads the strategic business unit in defense programs. The unit includes more than 50 percent of the labs’ $1.5 billion annual budget. He oversees research programs in microelectronics, materials science, engineering science, nuclear weapons engineering and other areas. Hunter is also responsible for the laboratories’ efforts in advanced computing, computational engineering science, environmental testing, systems integration and military interface on nuclear weapons.

Prior to this assignment, Hunter managed Sandia’s California Laboratory, including arms control, nuclear materials management and interactions with the former Soviet Union.

During the past 25 years, Hunter has made significant contributions to several areas of engineering. He worked to advance technology development for testing components in the radiation environments produced by nuclear weapons. As one of the initiators of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant project, and manager of Sandia’s Yucca Mountain efforts, he led research and development efforts to establish technology for the nation’s first repository for the permanent isolation of nuclear waste in rock salt.

As a founding member and chairman of the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program, he helped establish a series of congressionally supported initiatives between U.S. national labs and institutes in the former Soviet Union. He has been a guest lecturer at MIT and served on advisory councils for engineering at the University of Texas-Austin, University of California-Davis, and the University of Florida.

He enjoys outdoor activities and spending time with his family, including three daughters now living in various parts of the country.