Wayne C. Solomon earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of Idaho in 1955. His expansive career in aerospace started in the 1960s with propulsion research at the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He subsequently served as a visiting professor at Germany’s University of Goettingen for two years.
After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, he joined Bell Aerospace Textron as director of high- energy laser systems and, later, director for advanced Systems. He moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is now a professor emeritus, to head the Aerospace Engineering Department in 1988.
During his tenure, Illinois’ aerospace engineering department gained national prominence for research on aerodynamics, lasers, structures and space systems. Solomon also oversaw a graduate education program for McDonnell Douglas, now Boeing, in St. Louis.
Additionally, he organized and received NASA support for the Illinois Space Consortium and served as its director from 1991 until 2002. This NASA-sponsored research and education program reaches students from elementary to Ph.D. levels within institutions across the state of Illinois.
He is best known for his innovative research efforts in the areas propulsion and of high -energy lasers. In the 70’s and 80’s, he and a team of scientists conducted major research and design programs for chemical lasers and laser radar devices.
A fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astrodynamics, he has authored more than 200 research articles and conference proceedings. His research has been sponsored by number federal agencies.
Currently, Solomon serves as chairman of CU Aerospace, LLC, which he founded in 1999. A successful small company, it works closely with several universities to evolve aerospace research and provides the development expertise to commercialize aerospace innovations in the laser, electric propulsion and micro- satellites areas.
He and his wife, Janet Reis, currently divide their time between Boise and McCall.