Kresa's accomplishments as an engineer and an industry leader have been significant. A Course XVI alumnus (’59, SM ’61, EAA ’66), he played a leading role in developing advanced stealth aircraft, aircraft carriers, and spacecraft for scientific missions and national security at Northrop-Grumman from 1973 until his retirement in 2003. In 2009, he was appointed interim board chair of the General Motors Corporation by the Obama administration and oversaw that company's recovery. Kresa was selected as one of the nation’s top 25 managers in 2001 by Business Week, and in 2002 Forbes magazine named Northrop Grumman its company of the year.
The lecture is this year's installment in the School of Engineering's Distinguished Lecture Series, and the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics’s Lester D. Gardner Lecture. Both series are intended to be regular opportunities for the MIT engineering community — and the Institute at large — to come together to hear from leaders and pioneers in the engineering disciplines.