The Honorable William A. LaPlante was elected to the Board of Trustees of The Aerospace Corporation on September 1, 2021.
Dr. LaPlante is president and chief executive officer of Draper Laboratory, a research and development company that specializes in providing advanced technology solutions in the fields of national security, space exploration, health care, and energy. In his last role, LaPlante was senior vice president and general manager at MITRE National Security, where he oversaw the operation of two federally funded research and development centers and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology. Prior to that, LaPlante was vice president of the Missile Defense Portfolio at MITRE.
Previously, LaPlante was the assistant secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition), Washington, D.C., where he brought the $43 billion Air Force acquisition enterprise budget into alignment with the Air Force vision and strategy. During LaPlante’s three-year tenure as assistant secretary, the Air Force realized nearly $6 billion in “should-cost” savings. Before that, LaPlante spent 26 years at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in roles of increasing responsibility and authority in multiple programs, ultimately heading the Global Engagement Department where he was responsible for all of APL’s work supporting military capabilities. He was also a member of APL’s Executive Council.
LaPlante is a present or past member of several prestigious scientific boards and commissions focused on maintaining national security, including Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow; the National Defense Industrial Association; the U.S. Strategic Command Senior Advisory Group; the Naval Research Advisory Committee; and the Defense Science Board, on which he served as chair and/or a member of more than 20 studies and task forces. LaPlante joined other national experts as a commissioner on the congressionally mandated Section 809 Panel, which performed a comprehensive review of Department of Defense acquisition policies and provided efficiency and improvement recommendations, many of which became law.
Drawing upon his more than 36 years of experience as a leader of Air Force Acquisition, a member of the Section 809 Commission, and a subject matter expert on defense technology, LaPlante has testified to Congress numerous times. He continues to advise government and commercial organizations in the space technology field. He also has served as an adjunct lecturer in modern control theory and systems at the Catholic University of America.
Awards and honors LaPlante has received throughout his career acknowledging meritorious service and significant contributions include the W. Stuart Symington Award, the Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service (the highest award the Air Force bestows on civilian employees), and the General James Doolittle Award.
LaPlante earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in applied physics from Johns Hopkins University, and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Catholic University of America.