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Paul Gradl '02, '04M

Mechanical Engineering & Business Administration

Paul Gradl '02, '04M

Paul Gradl demonstrates that a Gannon education delivers boundless opportunities, even in space. Mr. Gradl is a highly accomplished NASA propulsion engineer, author, volunteer and entrepreneur. Mr. Gradl’s work on NASA’s Space Shuttle Main Engines has supported 22 shuttle launches to the International Space Station (ISS).

Mr. Gradl provides engineering expertise for NASA’s new engine development program, J-2X, which is the agency’s new upperstage engine for an Earth departure launch vehicle. Mr. Gradl leads several technical teams in the development and advancement of new technology including rocket engine nozzles and combustion chambers, handheld laser welding, advanced coatings and structured light scanning for advanced manufacturing. Following the Columbia Shuttle tragedy, Mr. Gradl directed a debris testing team that led NASA’s Return to Flight efforts.

Mr. Gradl’s contributions to the NASA mission have earned multiple awards and recognition. In 2011, he was awarded the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, one of NASA’s highest honors. It is awarded to an individual in the Federal service for a significant, specific accomplishment or substantial improvement in operations and technology which contributes to NASA’s mission.

Other notable recognition includes the Ares Program “Made It Happen” Award, a NASA Certificate of Appreciation, a NASA Special Service Award, the Marshall Space Flight Center Research and Technology Award and the NASA Engineering Directorate Partnership Award. Mr. Gradl represented NASA as one of only two space program participants in the Army Aviation & Missile Command’s 12-month leadership program, LIFT (Leader Investment For Tomorrow).

Mr. Gradl has published multiple technical papers for NASA regarding his area of expertise in liquid rocket engine combustion devices. In 2010, Mr. Gradl was awarded the 2010 Eugene L. Grant Award by The Engineering Economist Journal, which is the Engineering Economy Division of the American Society of Engineering Education.

Mr. Gradl holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration from Gannon University. He also earned a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the University of Alabama Huntsville.

Mr. Gradl resides in Huntsville, Alabama with his wife Leah. He volunteers his time as a youth hockey coach and most recently volunteered with debris removal throughout Alabama’s tornado relief efforts. Mr. Gradl intertwines his technical passion with music and business as an accomplished Disc Jockey. When he’s not enveloped in the space program, he’s concerned with executing events that most attendees consider out of this world. Mr. Gradl finds time to DJ 25+ events per year, including regional and national performances, most notably in Las Vegas.

(Published July 2014)