Jeff McLean WG16
35; White House Fellow, Office of American Innovation; former Navy fighter pilot
Secret to your success? I grew up working on a farm in Wisconsin, bailing hay and feeding cows, and that developed in me a sense of self-reliance and working hard until the job was finished. That experience still drives me to take ownership and have pride in my work, dig deep every day, and dedicate as many long hours as are required to solve the tough problems.
Proudest professional accomplishment? As a Navy fighter pilot and test pilot, I was a part of a world-class team of engineers that worked on an experimental unmanned jet aircraft, called the X-47B. Together, we achieved the first unmanned autonomous aerial refueling, which is still the forefront of autonomy in aviation. Historically, one of the most challenging tasks for a jet pilot is to connect to and refuel from an airborne tanker aircraft, and our team achieved that feat with an unmanned autonomous aircraft.