James E. Turner, Jr.
Class of 1956, BS
James E. Turner, Jr. is the retired President and Chief Operating Officer of General Dynamics Corp., a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and the current Rector of Virginia Tech’s Board of Visitors.
“Jim Turner is one of the all time great leaders of the shipbuilding industry,” says his colleague Greg Cridlin (Virginia Tech 1968 civil engineering graduate and the current Vice-President and General Manager of Newport News Shipbuilding).
Mr. Turner spent more than 40 years associated with naval nuclear shipbuilding and commercial nuclear power projects and his work earned him the prestigious 1999 Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz Award from the Navy League of the United States. The award is given annually to a person who has made a major contribution to the U.S. maritime strength.
Mr. Turner’s career with General Dynamics started in 1988 when he was named Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Electric Boat Division. He focused his career with this Fortune 500 company on providing the U.S. Navy with nuclear-powered submarines of increased capability at reduced costs. He led the re-engineering of General Dynamics’ Electric Boat shipyard organization, processes, and work force to create a technologically integrated team. This effort helped meet the Navy’s demand for more affordable submarines, achieving a breakthrough in low-rate production.
The culmination of Mr. Turner’s vision while in this position was the creation of the New Attack Submarine, the first American warship designed solely on computer and considered to be today’s most sophisticated and advanced submarine. It was founded on the integrated product and process development (IPPD) approach, which Mr. Turner pioneered at the Electric Boat Division.
Prior to joining General Dynamics, Mr. Turner served in a series of positions with Newport News Shipbuilding, the last two years as the Executive Vice President in charge of operations. His responsibilities included submarine construction, aircraft carrier construction, and all overhaul and repair activities. Previously, he was Vice President of Operations for a Tenneco and Westinghouse joint venture to build floating nuclear plants.
From 1978 until 1981, Mr. Turner served as General Manager of the Nuclear Components Division of Westinghouse. In this position, he was responsible for the sale, design, and manufacture of large steam generators and reactor core internals for U.S. and international utilities.
At Virginia Tech, in addition to his service on the Board of Visitors and the Foundation Board of Directors, he is a member of the Ut Prosim Society, the Golden Hokie Club, and the College of Engineering’s Committee of 100.
His professional society memberships include: the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, the American Society of Naval Engineers, Naval Submarine League, the Navy League of the U.S., and the American Defense Preparedness Association. He is a Bartels Fellow of the University of New Haven. He is a past Board of Directors member of the Shipbuilders Council of America and the American Shipbuilding Association.
He is a ’56 agricultural engineering (the department is now called biological systems engineering) graduate and was named the College of Engineering’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1999.
A native of the Isle of Wight, Virginia, he and his wife, Elizabeth, currently reside in the Tidewater region of Virginia.
Class of: 1956
Year Inducted into Academy: 2000