Ken Harness credits his early successes in the aviation industry to the College of Technology’s applied approach to learning. While others were learning on the job, he says, “I was making things happen out of the box.”
He’s been “making things happen” in every stage of his career for the last 20 years. Currently the chief operating officer for Diamond Aircraft Industries, he started life after Purdue with seven years of service in the United States Army, where he was his unit’s youngest commander. He followed that with six years of experience in aircraft engine product development and management.
As the director of propulsion systems for Eclipse Aviation, he was named co-inventor on three patents related to the development of the world’s first commercially viable halon replacement system. And as Eclipse’s vice president of engineering, he managed the development and certification of the first very light jet. The project earned the 2005 National Aeronautic Association Collier Trophy for “greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America.”
Throughout his career, Harness has demonstrated an ability to improve the efficiency of a business’s operations through problem- solving, good employee relations, and clear goals.
Within his community, Harness has also provided leadership serving on the board of directors for the Albuquerque Youth Symphony for five years.
Harness and his wife, Susan, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with their two children.
This was originally written for the Distinguished Technology Alumni Awards in 2009.