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Molinaroli College of Engineering and Computing

  • Alum Kenneth Bible

Service to a nation

Alum Kenneth Bible concludes a 40-year career in public service

Mechanical Engineering (master’s) alum Kenneth Bible has witnessed plenty of changes during his career. For example, when he started his professional career as a nuclear engineer at the former Charleston Naval Shipyard in 1985, the average starting salary for an entry level engineer was just over $27,400. Bible also had his own career transitions, which took him in some unexpected directions.

This past April, Bible retired from a nearly 40-year career. While he started in nuclear and mechanical engineering, he later made significant impacts on the nation’s information technology (IT) and cybersecurity.

Bible spent eight years at the Charleston Naval Shipyard before plans were announced to close the facility in 1993. Employees were offered opportunities to seek retraining, which included the University of South Carolina’s APOGEE, a distance education program designed to meet the needs of employed professionals.

Bible was hesitant about returning to school while working full time, but after successfully completing his first few classes, he applied and was accepted to the College of Engineering and Computing’s mechanical engineering master’s program. Each week he watched VHS tapes that were shipped to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston and attended one live session via closed-circuit television. He graduated from the program in 1996.

“In the mid-1990s, this was pretty cutting edge. Going back after 10 years was a little intimidating, but the counselors and faculty in the program were very encouraging,” Bible says.

Mingling mechanical engineering with information technology

Bible’s graduate education was influential in his transition to the IT world. In 1994, he relocated to the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic (SPAWAR) in Charleston, now known as the Naval Information Warfare Center. While expected to work as a project engineer, his department heads wanted to utilize his knowledge in geospatial information systems (GIS), a technology he learned at the shipyard by mapping radioactive waste sites. But to work in GIS, he had to justify his master’s degree in mechanical engineering to his new supervisors.

“Because I got pulled into GIS technology that SPAWAR was building, I had to take a different look at my degree. My boss wanted to know how mechanical engineering would relate,” Bible says. “My advisor and the faculty at USC helped me figure out how to put these technologies together.”

Bible’s professors helped him develop an independent study surrounding the cause of premature clotting of dialysis bypass grafts. To tie this problem to mechanical engineering, Bible applied the university’s finite element analysis supercomputing system to analyze possible causes. He connected this to his work at SPAWAR by addressing the networking challenges in running these advanced computing technologies remotely between Columbia and Charleston.

“The university was flexible with my coursework and fostered curiosity and study across disciplines to learn how mechanical engineering applies when solving a medical problem,” Bible says.

Bible worked at SPAWAR for 16 years, which included a supervisory position in networking and communications and division head for the network engineering division. When the Navy began updating to a global network, Bible was asked to be the technology director for the system program office and later chief engineer, a role that took him from Charleston to the SPAWAR headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In the early part of my career, I aways looked for opportunities to have an impact and ensure our national institutions were performing the services the country needed. 

- Kenneth Bible

Bible became the Marine Corps’ chief technology advisor at the Pentagon in 2013. Two years later, he was promoted to deputy chief information officer, where he developed broad policy guidance for IT, cybersecurity and communications infrastructure. In 2021, after 36 years of service to the Navy and Marine Corps, Bible craved a view of government from the civilian side. He accepted an opportunity at the Department of Homeland Security as chief information security officer, the final post of his career with the U.S. government.

Celebrating decades of service to a nation

In honor of his contributions to the nation, President Joe Biden awarded him Distinguished Rank in 2023. One of Bible’s most influential contributions was as chief engineer for the Navy’s Environmental Information Management System, a GIS-based program that supports environmental planning, natural resources management and encroachment issues. Bible built the program in 2000 alongside a team of ship drivers, lawyers, environmental groups, IT personnel and biologists in response to dolphins stranded in the Bahamas.

“The Navy is a huge steward of sea and ocean research, and this triggered an enormous environmental push,” he says. “A tremendous team came together that I was fortunate to lead, creating a system that has lasted 24 years.”

Bible was also instrumental in the response to the Solar Winds incident in 2020, one of the largest incursions into the U.S. government’s IT infrastructure. After Russian hackers breached SolarWinds software by injecting malware and affecting thousands of customers, including the U.S. government, Bible was involved in the Department of Homeland Security’s response. This experience formed much of his strategy for the department’s risk management and cybersecurity. Bible also developed technological changes to the national defense strategy, such as Advana, the Department of Defense’s authoritative source for audit and business data analytics, and guided the production of the first fully accredited secure software development pipelines.

“In the early part of my career, I aways looked for opportunities to have an impact and ensure our national institutions were performing the services the country needed. It was a blessing to have that many chances to make a mark,” Bible says.

Looking to the future

Bible continues to make an impact even in his retirement. He is a panelist for the Walker Institute of International and Area Studies, USC's center for global research and outreach.

“Ken is one of the most well-versed people in the cyber and AI arena in the nation. He is always in demand, but he has never said no to helping me,” says Jodi Salter, program manager for the Walker Institute.

Salter is also founding board chair for South Carolina Women in Technology and director of SC Cyber. Bible mentors’ students and assists these organizations in achieving their missions.

“Ken is the biggest champion of growing the number of women in the cyber area,” Salter says. “He has developed a relationship with every student I’ve connected him with. He’s a giver, a civil servant at heart and always will be.”

Bible admits that mechanical engineering has evolved and become more specialized. While technological advances are undoubtedly advantageous, he cautions students against specializing too early in their education. Instead, he recommends a broad engineering degree focusing on large categories of study that can be applied to any problem.

“Be aware that the job you will ultimately end up in hasn’t been invented yet,” Bible says. “An engineering education at the undergraduate level is about understanding methods and learning how to break large problems into smaller things you can solve. Build curiosity and be willing to research something you don’t know. You may be surprised where that leads.”

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.