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3 GA-ASI Engineers Win Awards from AIAA

Leon Alvarez, James McPherson and Terry von Klein
Receive AIAA San Diego Section Awards
Leon Alvarez, James McPherson and Terry von Klein Receive AIAA San Diego Section Awards

Three senior engineers from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) were honored with awards from the San Diego section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) in the areas of outstanding aerospace engineering and engineering management. The awards were presented at an event hosted by the AIAA on May 21, 2023. GA-ASI is a leading employer in the San Diego area and manufacturer of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions.

Leon Alvarez, James McPherson and Walter (Terry) von Klein were the three GA-ASI engineers who were honored with awards.

“We are very proud of the important contributions of Leon, James and Terry,” said GA-ASI Vice President of Engineering Dee Wilson. “As the world leader in unmanned systems, engineering is the lifeblood of our company. These engineers have helped to pioneer the development of new and innovative technologies that are utilized on our UAS platforms, which are critical to U.S. national security and throughout the world.”

Leon Alvarez is technical director for GA-ASI’s Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC) Group, and is the company’s leader in development of a revolutionary technology for GA-ASI’s aircraft – Automatic Takeoff and Landing Capability (ATLC) utilizing only onboard sensors. He has worked as a leader over 15 years on the architecture and development of the technology and is integral in the deployment of ATLC as a key enabler of GA-ASI’s line of unmanned aircraft that are deployed with customers around the world and has zero mishaps after more than 130,000 takeoff and landing events.

James McPherson is GA-ASI’s program manager for U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) programs and was awarded for outstanding contributions to aerospace management. He manages technical projects involving GA-ASI’s USMC customer, including all training and sustainment for the USMC MUX Program and support of the USMC’s Service Level Training Exercises where he has led a team of project managers, engineers, technicians, mechanics, and aircrew to a Link 16 solution without impacting a rigorous flight schedule.

Finally, Terry von Klein, GA-ASI engineering director for Flight Technologies and Advanced Programs, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from AIAA for his outstanding contributions to GNC activities on all GA-ASI platforms. Over the course of his 36-year career, which also included stops at Northrop Grumman and Boeing, he had significant impact on aerospace engineering, primarily in GNC and flight simulation across programs as diverse as C-17, X-48B, ATT, MD-11, MQ-1, MQ-9, and numerous advanced and novel systems. His work has been published by AIAA and NASA, and he holds a patent for a novel method of automatic control of a vehicle.


About GA-ASI

General Atomics-Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI), an affiliate of General Atomics, is a leading designer and manufacturer of proven, reliable remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) systems, radars, and electro-optic and related mission systems, including the Predator® RPA series and the Lynx® Multi-mode Radar. With more than seven million flight hours, GA-ASI provides long-endurance, mission-capable aircraft with integrated sensor and data link systems required to deliver persistent flight that enables situational awareness and rapid strike. The company also produces a variety of ground control stations and sensor control/image analysis software, offers pilot training and support services, and develops meta-material antennas. For more information, visit

Avenger, Lynx, Predator, SeaGuardian and SkyGuardian are registered trademarks of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.

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