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February 26, 2013

U.S. Missile Defense Agency director to deliver Purdue keynote for Discovery Lecture Series

James Syring

James Syring
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A Navy admiral tapped late last year to be the first sailor to head the Pentagon's U.S. Missile Defense Agency will deliver a Discovery Lecture at Purdue University at 3 p.m. March 5 in Discovery Park.

Vice Admiral James Syring, who served as director for the Navy's Program Executive for Integrated Warfare Systems before taking the helm at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), will give the talk titled, "Ballistic Missile Defense Update."

The lecture, slated for the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Room 121, is free and open to the public. Sponsors for this Discovery Lecture are Lilly Endowment, the Purdue Center for Integrated Systems in Aerospace, Purdue Office of the Vice President for Research and Discovery Park.

"We are extremely grateful that Vice Admiral Syring, in the midst of a very busy start to his tenure at MDA, is coming to Purdue," said Purdue astronautics and aeronautics professor Daniel DeLaurentis, director of the Center for Integrated Systems in Aerospace. "We are excited to show the director the important research Purdue is already conducting for his agency and the vision that Purdue's leadership has for growing the relationship between Purdue and MDA."

While on campus, Syring will review two major research projects that MDA has ongoing with Purdue, including an effort led by DeLaurentis and Saurabh Bagchi, an associate professor in Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, to develop software that would improve the ability to manage the large volume of incoming data during an enemy attack.

The Purdue team is creating computer software for "enhanced command and control" that takes input from various sensors - information from radar, satellites, reconnaissance aircraft and ships. The three-year project, funded through a $4.8 million MDA contract, would enable more efficient and effective battle management and command and control of the missile defense system.

The White House appointed Syring to succeed U.S. Army Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly, who retired in November. O'Reilly visited Purdue in February 2012, reviewed the agency's research at Purdue and delivered the Boeing Lecture.

With a $9 billion annual budget, Syring oversees the MDA's worldwide mission for developing, fielding and upgrading the nation's ground- and sea-based missile defense programs for countering ballistic missile strikes, working with Japan and Israel, among other nations.

Today's Missile Defense Agency traces its origins to the Strategic Defense Initiative established in 1983. Top contractors of the DOD agency today are Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Raytheon Co., Northrop Grumman Corp., and Orbital Sciences Corp.

A native of Muncie, Ind., Syring earned a bachelor's degree in marine engineering in 1985 from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the Naval Post Graduate School in 1992. The 27-year veteran is a recipient of the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

His previous leadership positions include combat systems baseline manager in the Aegis Technical Division, director for surface combatants for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and technical director for the Navy's DDG 1000 shipbuilding program.

Commissioned as a Navy ensign after graduation, Syring was designated an engineering duty officer. At sea, he qualified as a surface warfare officer on the USS Downes, where he served as auxiliaries, electrical and electronics material officer. He served as ship superintendent for the USS Port Royal and Aegis test officer from 1992-96 for the new construction DDG 51 class ships on the staff of the supervisor of shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss.

From 2001-03, he was director for Surface Combatants in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. He served in the DDG 1000 Shipbuilding Program - as technical director from 2003-05, and as program manager from 2005-10.

Through a $1 million gift to Discovery Park from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, Purdue launched the Discovery Lecture Series in 2006 for bringing prominent speakers to campus.

Writer: Phillip Fiorini, 765-496-3133, pfiorini@purdue.edu

Sources:  Daniel DeLaurentis, 765-494-0694, ddelaure@purdue.edu

Candiss Vibbert, 765-494-9404, vibbert@purdue.edu