Scott A. McLaughlin, executive director of Spaceport America, was honored as the NMSU College of Engineering Spring 2021 Ingeniero Emimente, one of the college’s highest honors. This honor was part of the May 14 College of Engineering Sociedad de Ingenieros ceremony.
The Sociedad de Ingenieros was established at NMSU in 1989 by deans and department heads of the College of Engineering. The society is dedicated to each graduating class of engineers in anticipation of the future contributions they will make to society while practicing their profession. At each ceremony, eminente members are inducted into the society. These recipients have distinguished themselves in the field of engineering and serve as role models for new graduates.
McLaughlin is an experienced engineer and executive with a diverse background in both design and business. He has worked in both the private and government sectors and has traveled around the world installing, maintaining and marketing specialized wind radar systems. His innovative designs support space launch, test ranges, aviation operations, weather service networks, atmospheric research, pollution studies and shipboard-based wind measurements. Users include research and defense agencies such as NASA, NOAA, DOE, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, universities, as well as customers in Spain, Taiwan, India, UAE, Thailand, Kuwait, Mexico, Samoa, and Colombia.
Having worked on both sides of the negotiating table, McLaughlin understands the difficulties and advantages present in both private business and government operations. As a technical innovator, a founder, and an executive of a new business unit, he also appreciates the trials and tribulations of entrepreneurial companies looking for funding while working to “cross the chasm” and to make their mark on the world. In working with and for the federal government at White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico, NASA at Johnson Space Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado, and now the state of New Mexico, McLaughlin also embraces the challenge of how best to honor taxpayer-funded activities.
McLaughlin was born and raised in New Mexico. After graduating from New Mexico State University with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, he moved to Texas, then Colorado where he established a radar design and manufacturing business. After being acquired by a similar small company, and a 25-year absence from New Mexico, he returned to the Land of Enchantment. With a life-long love of space and aviation, McLaughlin found a dream job as director of business development at Spaceport America. In March 2021, he was named executive director of Spaceport America.