John Duxbury ’61 devoted his professional lifetime to the science of space exploration, retiring in 2006 after working for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology for 41 years. Throughout his career, Duxbury managed countless teams and projects, most notably culminating with his success as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s science payload manager. In this role, he managed a budget of $100 million to develop the seven instruments needed on the Orbiter to conduct observations and gather data on the surface, subsurface, and atmosphere of Mars, including readings that will help scientists determine what happened to the water that once flowed on the planet and whether or not life ever developed there. Other projects that Duxbury has worked on include the Mariner 9 orbiter, the Infra-Red Astronomical Satellite, and the Cassini Saturn Mission. He was the recipient of two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, 10 NASA Group Achievement Awards, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s NOVA Award, and the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana Special Recognition Award. Duxbury holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Valparaiso University and a master’s degree in the same field from Purdue University.
On receiving this award, Duxbury says, “I am deeply honored to be recognized by the Valpo Alumni Association to be a recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award. I cherish this recognition, which comes at the time of my retirement. What a great way to end my professional career!”
In crediting Valpo for leading him to Lutheranism, introducing him to his best friend (his wife, Gayle (Winkler ’61)), and providing him with an education that prepared him to work with some of the world’s top scientists in space exploration, Draheim says, “I was blessed in many ways from my experience of attending Valpo. … The Valpo team is amazing. For example, the dean of engineering took time out of his busy schedule to attend and speak at my JPL [Jet Propulsion Laboratory] retirement ceremony. This gave a strong message to the aerospace community that Valpo cares about their people, long after graduation. Thank you, Kraig.”