Leading by Example


After high school, Doug Jones, BME ’63, MS ’65, DSc ’70, thought he wanted to be a machinist. “But somewhere down the line,” he remembers, “machinist became engineering, and engineering became a bachelor’s degree.”

That goal led him the GW School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), where he has since been affiliated for more than 50 years.

Beginning as a part-time undergraduate student, Doug earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from SEAS before joining his former instructors as a member of the SEAS faculty, rising through the professional ranks, ultimately serving as the associate dean for academic affairs before retiring in 2004 as professor emeritus of engineering and applied science.

Among his many contributions to GW, Doug directed more than 25 master’s theses and doctoral dissertations, co-authored an engineering textbook, dozens of journal articles, and conference proceedings, and helped establish a computer-aided design program in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. In 2002, he took his commitment to GW to a new level, establishing the Douglas L. Jones Endowed Mechanical Engineering Graduate Fellowship. The fellowship provides tuition assistance for graduate students majoring in mechanical engineering, students just like Joseph Lukas.

Doug Jones, BME ’63, MS ’65, DSc ’70, and his wife, Mary, with Joseph Lukas in Science & Engineering Hall.

Doug Jones, BME ’63, MS ’65, DSc ’70, and his wife, Mary, with Joseph Lukas in Science & Engineering Hall this spring.

Joseph, who spoke at the 2015 Power & Promise dinner, is a PhD candidate in aerospace engineering, currently designing propulsion systems that will be used in two satellite launches scheduled for later this year. If the launches are completed successfully, Joseph and his team in the Micropropulsion and Nanotechnology Lab hope to be the first GW team to send their technology into space.

“The experience of going from a concept to having the thrusters I’ve built with my own hands being placed in space is an aerospace engineer’s dream come true,” he says. “I have my scholarship to thank for allowing me to go the extra mile to get where I am now, as well as where I will end up in the future.”

In addition to his work for the upcoming launches, Joseph has maintained a 4.0 GPA while preparing for his dissertation he hopes to complete this fall and also teaches a class on propulsion, an opportunity made possible because of his fellowship. “I enjoy teaching and helping people change the way they see the world,” he explains. “I want to apply this when I become a professor, how I can reach people differently.”

Doug has a straightforward goal for his fellowship: to bring the brightest students to GW and transform the mechanical engineering department. “One of these [fellowships] might not change the department,” he says, “but 10 of these will really impact the department.”

After completing his undergraduate degree, Doug didn’t immediately decide on pursuing a doctoral degree, but initially had his sights on a National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowship. While he wasn’t selected for the NSF fellowship, he received a letter from the dean of SEAS letting him know he could be eligible for a pre-doctoral fellowship established by NASA at GW, and this time he was selected.

“I did receive job offers [after undergrad],” Doug remembers. “If I hadn’t gotten that fellowship, I likely wouldn’t even have gotten a master’s…so it was very significant in my professional development.”

Recently, Doug was able to meet Joseph in person for the first time. The two swapped machine shop stories, discussed Joseph’s upcoming international conference presentations, and shared their experiences as the first class to occupy new buildings, Joseph in Science and Engineering Hall and Doug in Tompkins Hall.

“Getting a scholarship to study what I love is a dream come true,” Joseph told Doug. “Thanks to you, I can really focus on my research when I truly needed it most.”

With his storied history at GW as student, educator, and administrator, Doug knows the value and importance of graduate support.

“I’ve always felt that our department could be very strong if we had 10 fellowships like mine,” Doug explains. “If we could do that, then each one of those could be instrumental in helping a really bright student come to GW. I hope that my choice can help lead the way by example.”


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Author: GW Impact

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