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NASA manager receives alumni lifetime achievement award from UC

Lew Soloway, class of ’71, spent 40 years working in the aerospace and manufacturing industries

Lew Soloway headshot

Lew Soloway

Lew Soloway spent a significant portion of his career working for NASA in California with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), but the foundation for his career was built at the University of Cincinnati. Soloway graduated from UC with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 1971. He went on to earn a master’s of business administration in finance and accounting from the University of Washington. 

Soloway was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) at the CEAS Alumni Awards Dinner held on October 3. The accolade is the highest alumni honor from the college and it annually pays homage to a distinguished graduate whose career reflects the college’s commitment to excellence, achievement and service.

“I am very humbled by the award. The university, college and the Department of Aerospace Engineering are all important to me and have been since I was a student,” Soloway said. 

Soloway is retired from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, where he worked for 15 years. Most recently he served as the lead for supply chain management on the engineering and science directorate staff. He was responsible for tracking and troubleshooting subcontracts for major flight projects – balancing cost, technical details, and the project’s schedule. 

He also managed a team that developed advanced conceptual designs to set the stage for future missions such as landing on Europa, the icy moon of Jupiter, as well as missions to put a probe in the methane lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan, transport Mars samples back to Earth, and land on Venus.

Prior to his role on the engineering and science directorate staff, Soloway held senior management roles leading JPL’s manufacturing operations including mechanical systems engineering, fabrication, testing, electronic packaging, propulsion and fluid systems services, and machining operations for such missions as the Mars Curiosity rover.

Before joining NASA, Soloway streamlined the engineering operations of companies like Northrup Grumman and Rolls Royce Engines as a management consultant. While an engineer at Rockwell, he worked on the design and testing of various aircraft and missile prototypes, and also worked on the structural design of struts supporting the main engines to the space shuttle orbiter.

Soloway has maintained involvement with his alma mater in various ways, including hiring UC students as cooperative education (co-op) students at NASA JPL and serving on the college’s Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Advisory Board

Soloway, who grew up in Bergenfield, N.J., was drawn to UC for the depth of the aerospace engineering program; the welcoming atmosphere; and the co-op program, which allowed him to gain real-world work experience while also earning money he put toward his education.

“At JPL, I encouraged the development of new technologies for future missions,” Soloway said. “I ascribe that to my UC engineering experience. I still love to learn, branching out to other areas in addition to the technical.”