Mike McCall spoke to friends, family and colleagues at The Rocket City Tavern July 26, signaling the end of a 30-plus year career as an Aviation Propulsion Engineer.
Throughout his career, McCall used his expertise to benefit multiple turbine engine programs and his dedication led him to postpone retirement to assist in laying a solid foundation for the Improved Turbine Engine Program office at the Program Executive Office for Army Aviation.
After graduating from Saint Louis University with a bachelor's degree in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering in 1981, he began his career as a General Electric Field Engineer for gas turbine and power generation equipment. From there he joined the government to begin his civil service career with the U.S. Army Aviation Systems Command. From 1984 to 1997, McCall continued to support the Aviation Systems Command by helping design, develop, test and support various engines and new technologies to improve performance. He later earned an MS in Engineering Management from the University of Missouri in 1995. In 1997, McCall and his family relocated to Huntsville, Alabama as part of the Base Realignment and Closure to continue his support for Army Aviation with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command. From 1997 to 2016, he served in various leadership positions within the Aviation Engineering Directorate, including as the Chief of the Cargo and Propulsion Divisions as well as the Associate Director.
Throughout his career, McCall enjoyed mentoring young engineers. Lt. Col. Curt Kuetemeyer, former ITEP project manager, recalled McCall's interest as a mentor.
"I would call Mike in for a meeting and he would ask for one of our new engineers to join us," Kuetermeyer said. "When I questioned why, Mike replied, 'Maybe they won't understand it now, but in a few years, they will think back to this conversation and it will matter.'"
"He always asked to add new engineers to the team. He was always willing to take the time to answer their questions…he had an open door."
Instead of retiring in 2016, McCall offered to serve as the Technical Chief for ITEP within the PEO Aviation's Aviation Turbine Engines Project Office. He provided counsel to leadership; guided the program through Milestone A and two Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction Contracts; and, kept the high priority Army program on schedule and on cost.
"On my first day, Joan Smith (Integration Lead for ITEP) put a list of items on my desk that needed to be resolved for integration," McCall said at his farewell ceremony. "I guess I couldn't retire until Joan's List was completed."