Trendsetters: Aerospace & Technology
Jimmie L. Davis Jr.
[Photo: Jeffrey Camp]
Lead software systems engineer
“I’m going to try to do my best to have youth in this state see me.”
Doctorate, electrical engineering, University of Massachusetts/ Lowell; master’s, electrical engineering, University of Massachusetts/Lowell; master’s, applied mathematics, Georgia Tech; bachelor’s, electrical engineering, Georgia Tech; bachelor’s, math and physics, Morehouse College.
Davis holds the Morehouse College record for career passing yards (5,662) and passing touchdowns (47), most touchdown passes in a game (5) and most in a season (16).
Black Engineer of the Year, 2007, in the community service
in industry category. The award is sponsored by Lockheed Martin and an engineering deans council from historically black colleges and universities. He was cited for creating educational opportunities for minorities, for anti-drug work and for leading and mentoring students and for his work for the nation.
Combine the opaque nature of Jimmie L. Davis Jr.’s highly technical field with his need to be circumspect about Defense Department work and this is about the easiest thing you can say about what he does: He leads an Air Force Electronic Systems Center-led project called the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System aimed at helping military aircraft land in any weather, in low visibility, on poor terrain and at night for almost all missions by using GPS.
A Miami native, he played high school football, baseball and basketball at North Miami Beach Senior High. His mother recognized his math skills early on. She would require him, when they went grocery shopping, to keep a running tally in his head and to come within 2 cents of being correct at the checkout register.
After earning his doctorate in electrical engineering, he joined the Bedford, Mass., campus of Mitre, a non-profit corporation that runs three federally funded R&D centers and provides long-term systems engineering and IT support to its government sponsors. In 2005, when his wife, Dr. Shairi Turner, was recruited to Tallahassee as chief medical director for the state Juvenile Justice Department, he and his family relocated from Boston, and he began teleworking for Mitre.
Davis, 40, is on the board of Space Florida, the state’s aerospace economic development organization. As Florida faces a future that includes the retirement of the shuttle, the commercialization of the space industry and the advent of competing launch sites, Davis is encouraged by Space Florida’s vision and the state’s
focus on being a leader in aerospace. “I’m very excited about what can happen,” he says.