General Lester Lyles
NASA Advisory Council
US Air Force (Retired)


Celestial Torch Banquet

Saturday August 11, 7:30 pm

General Lester L. Lyles received his B.S., in mechanical engineering from Howard University in 1968, his M.S. in mechanical/nuclear engineering from New Mexico State University in 1969, and Honorary Doctorate of Laws degrees from New Mexico State University in 2002, and Urbana University in 2009. He is a graduate of the Defense Systems Management College (1980), the Armed Forces Staff College (1981), the National War College (1985), and the National and International Security Management Course at Harvard University (1991).

General Lyles entered the United States Air Force in 1968 as a distinguished graduate of the Air Force ROTC program. He served in various assignments, including Special Assistant and Aide-De-Camp to the Commander of Air Force Systems Command, and Avionics Division Chief in the F-16 Systems Program Office. He served as Program Director of the Medium-Launch Vehicles Program and Space-Launch Systems offices in 1987 during the recovery from the Challenger Space Shuttle accident. General Lyles became Vice Commander of Ogden Air Logistics Center, Hill AFB, Utah. He served as Commander of the center from 1993 until 1994, then commanded the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB, California, until 1996. General Lyles became the Director of the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization in 1996. In May 1999, he was assigned as Vice Chief of Staff at U.S. Air Force Headquarters. In April 2000, he became the Commander, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. The command conducts research, development, test and evaluation, acquisition management services and logistics support for the Air Force. He retired in October 2003.

General Lyles has received many awards and decorations, including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster. He was named Astronautics Engineer of the Year by the National Space Club in 1990, and received the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award for outstanding contributions to military equal opportunity policies and programs from the NAACP in 1994. He was named Black Engineer of the Year/Lifetime Achievement in 2003. General Lyles received the General Thomas D. White Award for distinguished service in national security from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2012.

He serves on the Board of Directors for several corporations, including:

General Dynamics Corporation
KBR Corporation
Battelle Memorial Institute
USAA [United Services Automobile Association] – currently Chairman of the Board of USAA.

General Lyles served on the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee (“Augustine Committee”) in 2009 developing the agenda for the human spaceflight missions of NASA. He also chaired the National Research Council’s Committee on the Rationale and Goals of the U.S. Civil Space Program in 2009. General Lyles was appointed to the Defense Science Board in 2009, and appointed by the White House to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board from December 2009 to May 2013. General Lyles was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in March 2011. He chaired the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academy of Engineering from 2010 to 2016. In 2013, he was appointed to the Secretary of State’s International Security Board. General Lyles has been a member of the NASA Advisory Council since 2005.

General Lester L. Lyles was born in Washington, DC, and currently lives in Vienna, Virginia.



Dr. Julian Earls
Cleveland State University
(NASA - Retired)


Thursday August 9, 7:30 pm

Dr. Julian M. Earls is the retired Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field in Cleveland, Ohio where he served from October 2003 until December 2005. Previously, he served as Glenn's Deputy Director. As Director, Dr. Earls was responsible for planning, organizing and directing the activities required to accomplish the missions assigned to the Center. Dr. Earls joined the Monte Ahuja College of Business as Executive in Residence in 2006.

Dr. Earls earned his bachelor's degree in physics from Norfolk State University, his master's degree in radiation biology from the University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry, and his doctorate degree in radiation physics from the University of Michigan. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Business School Program for Management Development.

Since beginning his career with NASA in 1965 at the Lewis Research Center, renamed to the Glenn Research Center in 1999, Dr. Earls has written 28 publications for technical and educational journals. He wrote the first health physics guides used at NASA. He has been a Distinguished Honors Visiting Professor at numerous universities throughout the Nation. On two occasions, he has been awarded NASA medals for exceptional achievement and outstanding leadership, and has received the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive.



Ernest Levert
Lockheed Martin Corporation


Thursday August 9, 12 pm

Engineer Ernest D. Levert was born on March 15, 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio. Levert grew up in Cleveland where he attended Max S. Hayes High School and interned with NASA at the John H. Glenn Research Center as a sophomore. He graduated from Max S. Hayes High School in 1972. Then, after working briefly as a tool and die welder at Club Products in Cleveland, Levert served a tour of duty in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War and attended the U.S. Navy’s C-1 Welding School. Levert went on to graduate from Ohio State University in 1982 with his B.S. degree in welding engineering, specializing in laser-beam and electron-beam welding.

In 1986, Levert joined Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control Division in Dallas, Texas where he worked on projects under NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense that included International Space Station and the Army Tactical Missile System. Levert’s division created and implemented photovoltaic radiators for the International Space Station’s crew areas and the removal of excess heat. He also developed a system of elbow tubing designed to carry coolant gases in radiators that are part of the Space Station. In 1996, Levert was appointed senior staff manufacturing engineer at Lockheed Martin; and, by 2000, Levert’s team had successfully welded 284 missiles. Throughout his career, Levert has developed standard policies and processes that provide structural integrity for many Lockheed Martin products. He also contributed a chapter to the book, Sparking the Future: National Center for Welding Education and Training, published by the Welding Education Center in 2009.

In 2002, Levert became the first African American to serve as president of the American Welding Society. He was honored with the Outstanding Alumni Award from Ohio State University’s School of Engineering in 2004 and with the NOVA Award for Outstanding leadership from Lockheed Martin in 2006.