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The Mitre Touch

Jimmie L. Davis Jr.

Jimmie L. Davis Jr.
[Photo: Jeffrey Camp]

Mitre Corp.
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.

College football:
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.

Oh, Pioneers!

» The first woman to win the U.S. National Aerobatic Champion title, three-time winner Patty Wagstaff of St. Augustine will be flying in air shows across the nation this year, pursuing the creation of Patty Wagstaff Aviation (a fixed base operator at St. Augustine’s airport) and promoting Cirrus planes. She also plans to return to Kenya to instruct that nation’s wildlife service pilots.

» Native Floridian and aerobatics and automotive legend Betty Skelton Frankman Erde, 82, of The Villages is being inducted in August into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America for a career of records, including being the first woman to drive a jet car more than 300 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats. After winning Feminine International Aerobatic Championships from 1948 to 1950, she long partnered with Chevrolet, setting Corvette speed records and representing the automaker. She’s in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and her “Little Stinker” Pitts Special airplane is in the National Air and Space Museum.

» After her work at ground zero after the Sept. 11 attacks, USF computer science and engineering professor Robin Murphy, 50, became known internationally for her search-and-rescue robots. Murphy, director of the Institute for Safety Security Rescue Technology, now works on human-robot interaction. She is studying a web-enabled “Survivor Buddy” robot to act as a companion for people trapped by disasters, sniper fire or some other occurrence. The robot will monitor blood pressure and pulse, supply food and water and provide an audio and video link to those outside.