Scott Hinton retired as president of Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory on June 30, leaving a legacy of unprecedented growth at the laboratory. During a reception on June 30, many current and former colleagues paid tribute to Hinton’s leadership throughout his two decades of service to USU and SDL.
Hinton began his tenure at USU when he was appointed dean of the College of Engineering in 2002. In 2013, Hinton was tapped as SDL’s president, responsible for leading the laboratory as a government-sponsored University Affiliated Research Center. His successful tenure as SDL president was marked by exponential growth in employment, program revenue, and new facility construction. In addition, he led SDL to national prominence as a trusted partner of the U.S. government, with the organization providing a range of applied research capabilities to NASA and the Department of Defense.
“Scott has done an exceptional job as president of the Space Dynamics Lab, and we have benefited from his leadership and expertise. His skills have provided strategic direction and focus for Utah State University,” said USU President Noelle Cockett. “In his nearly two decades at USU as both the College of Engineering dean and Space Dynamics Lab president, Scott enacted changes that have positioned USU to assist in the next chapter of engineering, aerospace, and defense.”
When asked about SDL’s rise to national prominence, Hinton said that SDL’s achievements in the past eight years had more to do with the corporate culture and laboratory employees than the actions of a single person. “The dedicated men and women of SDL, who work tirelessly day in and day out, represent the common denominator in the success of SDL,” he said. “The SDL culture is one that embodies a spirit of innovation, selfless devotion to the organization and its partners, and dedication to team success. These inspiring traits will continue to propel SDL to new heights.”
Among the many attributes of Hinton’s leadership, people remember his professional encouragement of and commitment to all employees. “Scott cares deeply about the employees that he works with. In addition, he helped me build confidence in myself so that I can face a new challenge head on and know I will be successful in developing a good solution to the challenge,” noted Christine Hailey, former associate dean of USU’s College of Engineering and current dean of the College of Science and Engineering at Texas State University. “Using the model of ‘talking the talk’ or ‘walking the walk,’ Scott ‘runs the run’ in his support of women and underrepresented minorities.”
During the June 30 reception, the chair of SDL’s Board of Directors, retired Air Force Gen. Bruce Carlson, remarked on Hinton’s tenure and leadership. “It’s no secret that Scott has led this vital institution with excellent outcomes and with distinction. He has had the confidence of his employees, the Board, and SDL’s customers,” Carlson said to a packed auditorium. “Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to see some great leaders develop and grow people and organizations. And, in the military, we use terms like bearing, decisiveness, dependability, tact, courage, judgment, and unselfishness to describe the traits that make them successful. Scott embodies all these attributes and more.”
Carlson went on to say that it was a privilege to watch Hinton lead a nationally significant laboratory with the tenacity that inspired its customers to place some of their most essential programs in the trust of SDL.
To some, retirement means slowing down — perhaps delving into weighty novels or perfecting a home garden. Hinton, however, has other plans. When asked about his retirement plans, Hinton repeated a quote from theoretical physicist and Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman: “What I cannot create, I do not understand.”
“When I was in high school, I always wanted to be able to design a computer, and this was before they had chips. In my senior project in college, I was afforded the opportunity to design one,” Hinton said. “And now, I want to design a biological cell beginning from DNA and be able to simulate it.”
Hinton said that he’d also like to spend time studying quantum electrodynamics, as well as Mayan culture.
We’re certain he will.
SDL has been solving the technical challenges faced by the military, science community, and industry for over six decades and supports NASA’s mission to drive advances in science, technology, aeronautics, and space exploration to enhance knowledge, education, innovation, economic vitality, and stewardship of Earth. As one of 14 DOD UARCs, SDL serves as a subject matter expert in its core research areas to the U.S. Government, ensuring that essential engineering and technology capabilities are maintained. SDL is a research laboratory headquartered in North Logan, UT, and has offices in Albuquerque, NM; Bedford, MA; Colorado Springs, CO; Dayton, OH; Huntsville, AL; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Stafford, VA; and Washington, DC. For more information, visit www.sdl.usu.edu.