Buzza and Trautman receive College of Engineering's highest honor


Tim Buzza (’86 BS ME, ‘87 MS ME), and Stephen Trautman ('86 BS NucE) have been named recipients of the Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award, the highest honor bestowed by the College of Engineering. Established in 1966, the award recognizes graduates who have reached exceptional levels of professional achievement.

Tim Buzza, Launch Operations, Virgin Galactic, lives in Seal Beach, California. Prior to Virgin Galactic, he worked with SpaceX. Upon joining SpaceX in 2002, Tim led the development, testing, and successful launch of the Falcon 1 launch vehicle, the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, and the Dragon spacecraft. In addition, Tim led design, construction, and operation of SpaceX launch sites at Cape Canaveral, Vandenberg, and the United States Army Kwajalein Atoll. SpaceX was the first private company to launch a liquid fueled rocket to orbit (Falcon 1, September 2008) and successfully dock a commercial spaceship to the International Space Station (Dragon, May 2012). Prior to leaving SpaceX, Buzza was vice president of launch and test. Buzza recently joined Virgin Galactic to develop the LauncherOne, a revolutionary new launch vehicle dedicated to enabling dramatically more people and users to benefit from space.

Steve Trautman of Reston, Virginia, is the deputy director, Naval Reactors. In this position, he is the senior civilian in the organization of more than 40,000 personnel, acting for the director in his absence, and responsible for the administration of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program enterprise, which encompasses Naval Reactors Headquarters, 17 field offices, Navy support and training facilities, laboratories, shipyards, and nuclear-powered warships representing more than 40 percent of the Navy’s major combatants. Trautman joined the Navy while at Penn State through the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program and was commissioned an ensign upon graduation. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Penn State, Trautman received a degree from the Bettis Reactor Engineering School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Trautman was handpicked to remain at Naval Reactors at the end of his 5-year naval obligation and transitioned to the Federal civil service. In January 2001, Trautman was selected as a Senior Executive Service member, to the position of director, External Affairs. In that position, he was responsible for the program’s public and foreign affairs as well as its physical, information, and personnel security efforts. In January 2006, he was promoted to his current position.

For the complete list of Outstanding Engineering Alumni, visit the College of Engineering’s website.


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Shea Bracken



The Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the nation’s largest and most successful engineering departments. We serve more than 1,000 undergraduate students and more than 330 graduate students

We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering and nuclear engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S., M.Eng.) graduate degrees in nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering. MNE's strength is in offering hands-on experience in highly relevant research areas, such as energy, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems.

Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519