Lessons learned at SIU prove valuable to Korte

Southern Illinois University



December 08, 2014, Tim Crosby



CARBONDALE, Illinois – It’s not a stretch to say Dan Korte is one of the movers and shakers in defense engineering.

As a veteran of more than 20 years at major players such as Rolls-Royce Defense and Boeing, Korte has played a major role in steering major projects through design and manufacturing, accounting for billions of dollars in defense spending along the way.

For this Saluki, it all comes back to the valuable lessons he learned as undergraduate in the College of Engineering.

“The biggest lessons I learned at SIU had to do with the incredible power of hard work, curiosity and teamwork and how they drive both academic and business success,” said Korte, a Breese, Illinois, native who earned his bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1985. “Working five days a week at the Student Center in order to be able to afford to stay in school also forced me to become ‘world class’ at time management, and I still utilize those same skills today.”

Korte, now the chief executive officer of LMI Aerospace, got his first post-college job in 1985 when he joined Boeing as an electronics engineer, moving up in a series of increasingly senior positions to include both V-22 program manager and vice president-supplier management and procurement.

“My first job at Boeing grew out of a summer internship opportunity,” Korte said. “I still feel the well-rounded education I received at SIU allowed me to make multiple career changes as I progressed. I have never stopped learning my entire life, and SIU started those good habits.”

Korte later served as president of the Rolls-Royce Defense, where he was responsible for the strategy and performance of the $4 billion global defense aerospace business, encompassing 5,500 employees at operations in 17 countries. The business serves 160 customers in 103 countries with more than 18,000 engines in service around the world. Korte joined Rolls-Royce in August 2009 and was based at the North American corporate headquarters in Reston, Virginia.

Korte has more than 20 years of experience in design and systems engineering and integrated product team leadership, as well as supplier, procurement and program management experience. Before joining Rolls-Royce, Korte was vice president and general manager for Global Strike Systems, a division of the Boeing Military Aircraft business.

In addition to his SIU degree, Korte also holds an MBA from Lindenwood University, Missouri. He is also a graduate of the Strategic Thinking and Management for Competitive Advantage Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He also serves on the board of directors for United Way of Greater St Louis, on the College of Engineering Industrial Advisory and Foundation boards at SIU Carbondale; and as a member of the board for the St. Louis University Masters of International Business program.

SIU and the Carbondale community left their marks on Korte.

“One of my fondest memories was how much I loved to hike through the beautiful Southern Illinois forests and trails,” Korte said. “I always tried to attend the Great Cardboard Boat Regatta, too.”

Another fond memory, he said, was “getting an ‘A’ in Dr. (William) Nickel’s physics class!”

Korte remains very involved with his alma mater.

“I am back multiple times each year in support of my work with the college’s Industrial Advisory Board and the SIU Foundation Board,” He said. “I utilize those experiences to stay connected to current topics in engineering and academia and to try to give back to the university for all that I have gained from my education.

“Of course, I also try to come back at least once a year to hike in Southern Illinois!”

To this day, the college is evolving and adapting to the ever-advancing engineering field, Korte said.

“I feel the College of Engineering’s curriculum has continued to change over the years to match the technical and business needs of today’s market,” he said. “In fact, my company has just proposed some challenging issues that we are facing as potential senior design projects. That kind of interface between business and the college continues to prepare students for the real-world issues and opportunities that we are facing as an industry.”

Korte was the first of his family to attend college, and many students at his alma mater still fit that description. SIU was a key to his success, Korte said.

“I am happy that SIU still continues to serve that population,” he said.