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Charles M. Schaeffer

A headshot of Mr. Charles Schaeffer.




  • BS, mechanical engineering, WVU, 1959

Charles graduated from West Virginia University with a BSME degree in 1959 and continued his formal education with advanced engineering graduate studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Florida, and the Hartford Graduate Center. He spent his entire career in the aerospace industry, joining Pratt & Whitney Aircraft (PW) as an Experimental Engineer trainee during the developmental phases of the Jet Aircraft Engine and Liquid Hydrogen Fueled Rocket Engine programs. During his career with PW, Charles participated in many military and commercial aircraft engine programs at facilities in Connecticut and Florida and progressed to the Vice President Level. In 1962, Charles accepted a position at the Alleghany Ballistics Laboratory, an aerospace company that developed solid fuel rocket motors for the US Navy. He worked on design and development programs for the Navy until an accidental explosion occurred. Sadly, nine members of his crew lost their lives while completing the casting process for a Navy Polaris Rocket Motor. Fortunately, Charles was not at the facility at the time of the explosion. Charles returned to the PW Florida Facility in 1963 to work on the first liquid hydrogen fueled rocket engine development and certification program; this is the RL-10 engine which has been in production for over 50 years. He also participated in the development of the J-58 engine which powered the SR-71 Blackbird aircraft. Fun fact: the Blackbird holds the world record for the fastest jet-powered aircraft at over 2000 mph.

In 1967, Charles accepted an experimental operations position in East Hartford and was responsible for developing manufacturing processes that would support new engine development such as Titanium diffusion bonding and laser hole drilling. He also led a group of engineers working with major airlines throughout the world as they introduced new PW propulsion systems into their fleet operations. Charles and his team taught the airlines how to operate and maintain their PW engines. From 1982 to 1983, Charles served as the Director of Business Development and Operations at the PW Overhaul and Repair Center in Southington, CT. From 1984 to 1986, he served as Vice President at The Elliott Company in Houston, TX. The Elliott Company, another division of United Technologies (UT), incorporated aircraft engine technology into turbines and compressors used in oil refineries and chemical processing facilities. While at Elliott, he helped develop a successful employee buyout of the company, resulting in the sale of Elliot to its employees. In 1986, Charles returned to PW and directed an international group of over 500 engineers. The group provided support for all PW military engines used by the US and Allied Air Forces. From 1991 to 1993, Charles was responsible for International Military Programs and Business Development in the Middle East and Africa. During this time, he directed the group that won the major completion for the engines on the Saudi Air Force F-15 and F-16 aircraft, sealing the largest aircraft engine contract ever awarded at the time of the deal. Charles retired from UT in 1993 and joined Middle River Aircraft Systems (MRAS), a division of Lockheed Martin. At MRAS, he was responsible for establishing and building the Aerostructures Customer Support Group. When MRAS was acquired by General Electric (GE), Charles went with the acquisition to GE and continued to lead the team and programs that he had started at Lockheed. He retired from GE in 1999. Although he retired from GE, Charles stayed active in the aerospace industry, consulting with Lockheed, GE, and the Agilis Engineering group. He helped build Agilis into a major aircraft engine conceptual design company.

In 1998, Charles was inducted into the West Virginia University Academy of Distinguished Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineers because of his contributions to the aerospace industry. He considers it an honor to be recognized by his alma mater in this way. Charles and his wife Shirley have created endowed scholarships in the West Virginia University schools of Engineering and Education to help provide support for deserving students who graduate from their high school in Kingwood, West Virginia. These scholarships are administered by the WVU Foundation and are named in honor of Shirley: “The Mountain Mama Scholarships.” Charles has been an active volunteer for The Jupiter Medical Center Auxiliary Motor Aid group, which provides transportation to hospital patients, since 1993. He is also a long-time member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, where he is a huge supporter of both local and international mission programs. Over a 10-year period, he helped organize and direct a group of volunteers who designed and constructed a Christian school in Antique, Guatemala. Each year the group added two new classrooms to the school. At the end of the 10-year period, the school had over 300 students from first grade through high school. Charles is also on the Advisory Board for the Salvation Army of South Florida and enjoys riding a recumbent bike 20+ miles each day. He is not only a successful Engineer and businessman but also an amazing husband, father, and (great) grandpa to his family of 26 and counting.