Ernst Volgenau Honored with George Mason Medal

By Catherine Probst

In recognition of his service to George Mason University, Ernst Volgenau will be honored with the George Mason Medal at the university’s 2013 Commencement ceremony. The ceremony takes place in the Patriot Center at 10 a.m. on May 18.

In 1978, Volgenau founded SRA International Inc. in the basement of his Reston, Va., home.  SRA is a technology consulting and system integration company serving primarily the federal government. SRA sustained rapid growth and now has about 6,000 employees. SRA was the sixth most successful initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in 2002 and for ten years in a row, SRA was named by Fortune magazine to the list of “100 Best Places to Work in America.”

For three years, Volgenau was a member of the George Mason University Foundation Board of Trustees. In 2004, he was appointed to the George Mason University Board of Visitors and served as rector from 2007 to 2012. Contributions given to the School of Information Technology and Engineering, now the Volgenau School of Engineering, by Volgenau and his wife, Sara, are enabling the school to make strategic investments in critical areas of study such as biotechnology, knowledge management and information security.

“As someone who has a long-standing record of public service to George Mason University and to our country, I can think of no better recipient of this year’s Mason Medal,” says C. Daniel Clemente, rector of the George Mason University Board of Visitors. “We are honored to present this award to Dr. Volgenau, who has been a driving force behind the success of the university and the community.”

Volgenau has 40 years of experience analyzing, designing and developing large technological systems of all types. He was commissioned as a U.S. Air Force lieutenant in 1955, and later served as an analyst and team leader in the Office of the Secretary of Defense conducting large-scale weapon system and command structure analyses. He also helped develop space boosters, satellites and computer systems. He taught astronautics and graduated from the Air Force astronaut course. He retired as a colonel after 20 years of service.

From 1976-78, he was director of inspection and enforcement for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where he managed an office of nearly 700 engineers and physicists that inspected all of the commercial nuclear power plants under construction and in operation in the United States.

Volgenau received his PhD in engineering in 1966 from the University of California at Los Angeles. He holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He is a professional engineer and a member of Tau Beta Pi.

“It is a great honor to be recognized for my service to our country and to George Mason University, and I am truly humbled by the kindness of my colleagues,” says Volgenau.

The George Mason Medal is designated as the university’s highest honorary award. Those receiving the award, which honors George Mason, the man, should have a record of service to their community, state or nation consistent with the level and quality of George Mason’s public service in his own time.

The first George Mason Medal was awarded to John T. Hazel in 1987. Other former Mason Medal Recipients include Lovey Hammel, Sally Merten, and Sidney O. Dewberry.