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Honors and Awards

Gwynne Shotwell Receives Prestigious Washington Award

The award is conferred annually upon an engineer whose attainments have promoted the well-being of humanity

Northwestern Engineering alumna Gwynne Shotwell (’86, MS ’88) has received the prestigious 2023 Washington Award from the Western Society of Engineers and the Washington Award Commission. The award is conferred annually upon an engineer whose professional attainments have pre-eminently promoted the happiness, comfort, and well-being of humanity. 

Shotwell, the president and COO of SpaceX, where she directed the building of the Falcon family of launch vehicles and oversaw approximately 170 launches into orbit, was honored for her “leading role spearheading private enterprise space exploration.”

Shotwell graduated from the McCormick School of Engineering with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and a master’s degree in engineering sciences and applied mathematics.

Shotwell joins an elite list of Washington Award winners that includes Herbert Hoover (1919); Orville Wright (1927); Henry Ford (1944); Neil Armstrong (1980); Gene Cernan (2003); William Nye (2014); and 2022 honoree John Rogers, Louis Simpson and Kimberly Querrey Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, and Neurological Surgery at Northwestern.

Named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People of 2020, Shotwell’s achievements have been recognized by Forbes, Fortune, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. In 2020, she was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering.

Through leadership in both corporate and external STEM programs, Shotwell has helped raise more than $1.8 million for STEM programs reaching thousands of students nationwide.