Dr. Paul K. McConnaughey is the associate director, technical, in the Office of the Center Director at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
Named to the position in August 2015, McConnaughey is responsible for ensuring the performance of Marshall’s programs and technical activities, with respect to cost, schedule and mission success.
Originally from the Midwest, he earned his bachelor’s degree from Oregon State University in Corvallis, and his master’s degree and doctorate from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. After earning his doctorate, McConnaughey spent three years as a professor of soil physics and mathematics at Mississippi State University in Starkville.
He joined Marshall in 1986 as an engineer in the Systems Dynamics Laboratory, where he advanced quickly through supervisory positions and in 1998 was named the chief of the fluid dynamics division. In 1998, McConnaughey was named NASA’s deputy manager for the Military Spaceplane Technology Office, where he worked on space vehicle technologies of joint interest to NASA and the U.S. Air Force.
McConnaughey held various leadership positions of increasing responsibility, and in 2007 was selected as Marshall’s chief engineer. He then served as the director of System Engineering and Integration and the chief engineer of the Exploration Systems Development Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington where he oversaw the integration of the Space Launch System, Orion spacecraft and Ground Support Development and Operations programs.
For his service to NASA, he has received three NASA Exceptional Service Medals, a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, a Center Director’s Commendation and a Certificate of Appreciation. McConnaughey also received the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executive in 2011, the second-highest award conferred by the president of the United States.
McConnaughey has three daughters — Shannon of Seattle, Washington; Kelly of Browning, Montana; and Tracy of Auburn, Alabama — and resides in Huntsville, with his wife Angie and their two dogs.