Young Alum of the Year, ’10
On a nuclear level, this young engineer (but longtime Tech fan) is making a global difference in defense.
Title: Technical Director of Foreign Affairs, Department of Defense, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program Headquarters.
What it means: Matthew is responsible for working with numerous U.S. agencies on the development and implementation of domestic policies for international treaties pertaining to naval nuclear propulsion technology. Additionally, he is responsible for foreign policies pertaining to U.S. nuclear powered warship port entry around the world.
Hometown: Monroe, LA
Now resides in: Alexandria, VA
Family: Wife, Nicole Broussard Napoli, Tech ’04
Degree: B.S., mechanical engineering. (Master of Science in engineering science, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif., ’06; graduate of Bettis Reactor Engineering School, Pittsburgh, Penn., ’05; doctoral student at George Washington University, Washington, D.C., studying public policy with a concentration in science and technology policy, est. ’13.)
How has Tech helped you achieve what you have? Louisiana Tech provided me an engineering education on par with any university in the country. I knew this to be true when I reported for my first engineering position during my naval career. Upon graduating from Tech and joining the military, I was selected for a very competitive engineering organization, the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program Headquarters in Washington. Known as Naval Reactors, the organization prides itself in the selection and training of its personnel. At Headquarters, almost all new engineers are hired directly upon graduating from their university, with the primary constituents from MIT, Cornell, RPI, Notre Dame, and other top engineering universities. I was the first and only Louisiana Tech grad (only one other from Louisiana) as a Headquarters engineer. However, upon entering the program it was clear that I had an education equal to or better than most of my peers. I attribute my ability for success directly to Louisiana Tech and their devoted professors.
Additionally, when I was at Tech, I was elected the Student Government Association president. During my tenure, I developed the desire to continue my engineering education but eventually work towards a way to integrate this technical background with the foundations of public service. Thus, the SGA really opened my eyes towards my current venture at The George Washington University, where I am pursuing a doctorate in public policy with a concentration in science and technology policy… My goal is to combine my knowledge of engineering with the foundations of public policy and eventually apply my talents in Louisiana.
Did you ever think you'd be an alum of the year, or secretly hope to be?
I was totally surprised, yet extremely honored. To be honest, I wasn't sure how the university kept up with my career and educational progress. I guess it was from bumping into Dr. Reneau at all the Tech football road games near the Washington area (at the Army and Navy games) or from my stopping in the engineering department from time to time to update my old mechanical engineering professors (Dr. Corley, Dr. Barker, and Dr. Napper).
What are your hobbies? Playing golf, watching college football, and working on our historic Alexandria townhome (circa 1890).
Do you have any pets? No pets. However, there is a family agreement that as soon as I complete my doctorate, there will be a bulldog puppy waiting for me.
What do you do to relax? Enjoy keeping up with Louisiana Tech athletics or venturing out into the surrounding DC area to explore the wealth of tangible history.
What's something about Tech that makes you especially proud? The progression of the University in all areas: academics, athletics, faculty, and staff. I keep up with Tech as much as possible living in the Northeast. It makes me proud to see the new direction of our athletic department and advances in the engineering and science departments (e.g., Enterprise Campus). The one thing that most often makes me proud to be a Bulldog is when my wife and I return to Ruston after being away for many months. Every time we return, we bump in to a friendly face and truly get the sense of the "Louisiana Tech Community."
Do you have family ties to Tech? My father attended Northeast Louisiana University and my mother attended Louisiana Tech. Embarrassing, but my father taught me to say "wreck Tech" at a very young age. Needless to say, I outgrew childish things and made the right decision on where to go to college.
What are some of the most fun and also most challenging parts of your job? I was named Technical Director of Foreign Affairs at the Department of Defense's Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program Headquarters (approximately spring of ’09), the youngest director at Headquarters. My experience has been life-changing. I have developed close working relationships with Senior Executives at numerous distinguished U.S. agencies and with top ranking diplomats within foreign governments.
One of my most memorable work experiences was being called to the Situation Room of the White House to "defend a position." The glamour of the room I was sitting in quickly wore off, as I was half the age of anyone in the room. The debates were extremely intense, and I was front and center. I loved it.
Were you a particularly good student? There were educational ups and downs for me at Tech. I recall going back to my place after an engineering test, on more than one occasion..., and thinking “Matt 0, Tech Professor 1.” In the end it worked out as I was a member of Tau Beta Pi (the National Engineering Honor Society), Pi Tau Sigma (the National Mechanical Engineering Honor Society), Omicron Delta Kappa (the National Leadership Society), Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, awarded the College of Engineering's Outstanding Senior Award in 2003, Elected Student Government Association president from 2002 through 2003.
Favorite class/least favorite class/hardest class: Strangest Class - Statics (Engineering). I took the first test and thought, "Man I aced that." Yep ... I received a 28 out of 100! I refused to drop and worked my grade up (I passed). Not a fun experience.
Favorite Classes - a balance between the teaching of Dr. Corley, Dr. Barker, and Dr. Callens in engineering.
What are some of your fondest memories of Tech? Louisiana Tech tootball games, late nights at Bogard Hall, SGA, and all the friends I made along the way. Oh and my fondest memory of Tech was meeting my wife to be, Nicole.
Why did you choose Tech? Great question. I toured and received information from other schools around the country. However, when I visited Tech, I had a great sense of community, class, and excitement. I knew it was for me.
And why choose your career, or did it sort of choose you? I was always good in math and science, so engineering seemed like a perfect fit. Growing up, I always felt a sense of devotion to my community and country. Thus when I was nearing graduation and weighing my job opportunities, military service best met my credentials. I was able to serve my county, while maximizing the use of my engineering background. Win-Win.
Any advice for incoming freshman or today's students? Over the years at Tech, you will be exposed to a wealth of information; however, it is the principles and foundations of your field that define your success. Second, enjoy all Tech has to offer: amazing professors, an involved staff, student organizations, and athletic events.
What do you envision Tech to be 10 years or 20 years from now? Academically, I envision Tech's continued improvement in the science and engineering fields; specifically, advancements in biomedical engineering and nanotechnology/micro-manufacturing. I would like to attribute Tech's success in this venture to Dr. Reneau and Dr. Napper, both brilliant men. Athletically, I envision the return of Lady Techster dominance on the court and the Bulldogs’ rise to national prominence on the football field.