Society & Culture

NASA engineer, UGA alumnus to speak at College of Engineering

Russ Fortson

Athens, Ga. – Russ Fortson, an engineer with NASA contractor Science Applications International Corporation, will be the inaugural speaker for the University of Georgia College of Engineering’s Homecoming Symposium Nov. 7 at 2 p.m. in the Driftmier Engineering Center auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

Fortson, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural engineering from UGA, will address “From Driftmier to NASA—My Journey through the Space Program.” Fortson will focus on his career path since UGA, his current position with the space program at NASA and the value of being a UGA alumnus.

His career in the space program has covered more than 23 years and spanned two NASA centers, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and, currently, the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. At Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, Fortson is a technical expert responsible for insuring safe design and operation of spacecraft environmental control and life support systems. His current efforts are focused on the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and various commercial spacecraft being built for NASA mission support.

“We are thrilled to have Mr. Fortson as our speaker for the college’s first homecoming symposium,” said Don Leo, dean of the UGA College of Engineering. “Certainly, his career path exemplifies the caliber of individuals who are alumni of our program, and we are looking forward to the message he will bring our faculty, staff, visitors and most especially, our students.”

In addition to SAIC, Fortson has worked on a variety of space projects with government contractors, such as Dynamac and Lockheed-Martin, and with “new space” commercial companies, such as Bigelow Aerospace and Paragon Space Development Corporation. These projects include advanced programs for lunar and Mars exploration, support of the International Space Station and privately funded commercial space vehicles.

A native of Atlanta, Fortson was an active member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity as well as the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers while a student at UGA. Early in his career, he worked as a research and extension engineer for the UGA Tifton campus.
He is a registered professional engineer in Florida.

“I am honored to be asked to share my story with the university, since I owe my success in large measure to the excellent instruction and guidance I received as a student there,” Fortson said. “I am excited to be a part of the homecoming activities and see the excellent work currently being done there. I am always proud to tell people that I am a University of Georgia engineer.”

Fortson’s message precedes other events planned for the College of Engineering during UGA’s Homecoming Week celebration. Along with various student activities, the college will host a tailgate brunch Nov. 9 from 9:30 a.m. to noon at the Driftmier Engineering Center prior to the kickoff of the UGA homecoming football game versus Appalachian State University. All alumni, their families, faculty, staff, students and supporters are invited to attend.

For more information on the UGA College of Engineering, see