Dr. Zafer Gürdal
Ronald E. McNair Chair, Technical Director of the McNAIR Center
For as long as he can remember, Zafer Gürdal has been fascinated by flight. As a child in Ankara, Turkey, he recalls building a makeshift rocket from a mechanical pencil using the shavings from match heads to propel his creation into the sky. His innate curiosity and drive were a natural fit for a lifetime of propelling aerospace ingenuity forward.
While at Virginia Tech and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, Zafer pushed the frontiers of aerospace research, developing stronger, lighter materials that are critical to future exploration. This cutting edge research has brought him international recognition as a leader in aerospace innovation.
Zafer welcomes the challenge of bringing together the many facets of aerospace at the University of South Carolina. Research is his focus, with the education of tomorrow's workforce a primary goal. Under his leadership, the McNAIR Center will challenge Carolina's brightest young minds, unifying USC's aerospace effort to bring an array of opportunities to researchers and students alike.
Captain Martin J. "Marty" Keaney, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Executive Director, McNAIR Center for Aerospace Research and Innovation
In the position of executive directory, Marty Keaney is responsible for spearheading McNAIR’s business development, center’s management, executing grant proposal development, research administration, interdisciplinary educational integration, and building collaborative partnership opportunities supportive of external science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programing initiatives.
Prior to joining McNAIR, Marty served 28 years in Naval Aviation as a helicopter pilot, commanding Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light Five One and USS Essex (LHD-2) a helicopter/aircraft carrier, and Deputy Director, Information, Plans and Security, in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. He was also Vice President, Advanced Solutions Division for Delex Systems Inc, a professional services company with more than 40-years experience supporting U.S. aerospace efforts. At Delex, Keaney succeeded in developing relationships with companies, consultants and potential customers that allowed Delex to understand, resource, and develop comprehensive proposals that won competitive contract awards exceeding $45 million.
A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Marty holds a Joint Specialty Officer certification and is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Command and Staff College; and is a member of the Columbia Rotary Club. He and his wife Susan reside in Columbia, S.C