ESSSA’s Sam Dougherty receives Alumni Professional Achievement Award!

Sam Doughterty picture

Sam Dougherty (center) with his wife, Carol, and friend Howard Chambers

Nearly 300 UT alumni, spouses, families, and special guests convened at the Knoxville Convention Center October 2 for the Alumni Board Awards Dinner.

The mood was all red carpet as nineteen remarkable Volunteers from a broad spectrum of ages and professions were recognized for their achievements and contributions to UT, the nation, and the world.

Among the recipients was ERC’s Sam Dougherty!


During more than fifty years in the aerospace profession, Nathan Sam Dougherty has been one of the rare individuals who has profoundly impacted the development of both aeronautics and space systems.

The Dougherty name is one of the most respected at UT. Dougherty’s grandfather, Nathan W. Dougherty, was a revered dean of the College of Engineering and played an important role in creating the Southeastern Conference (SEC), serving as its first secretary-treasurer, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Dougherty graduated in 1962 from the College of Engineering with a BS in mechanical engineering and in 1970 from the UT Space Institute with an MS in aerospace engineering. From the beginning of his career at the USAF Arnold Engineering Development Center through the last thirty-five years at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center with Sverdrup, Rockwell International, Boeing, and now Jacobs/ERC, he has been dedicated to the advancement of spaceflight. It is a remarkable fact that he has contributed to every NASA Human Spaceflight Program from Apollo through today’s Space Launch System.

Widely recognized as a subject-matter expert in the testing and integration of rocket propulsion and vehicle systems, Dougherty is a Jacobs Technical Fellow for thermal and fluid dynamics and a technical fellow at ERC Inc., where he serves as a senior systems engineer.

His recent lecture at UT on the future of human space flight was one of the best attended and most inspiring in memory, and he has contributed greatly as a member of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Advisory Board in the College of Engineering.