Raytheon's Own Dr. McCoy
Trekkie, black belt, Patriot missile tester
Lester McCoy has three engineering degrees from two top schools -- and a mercifully non-academic way of telling the rest of us what it’s like to stand near a Patriot missile during a test launch.
“It feels like getting kicked in the chest,” he said.
He should know. As a test lead for Raytheon’s Patriot Air and Missile Defense System, he’s seen his share of launches. And as a black belt in jiu jitsu, he’s taken his share of kicks to the chest. He’s also delivered a few of his own, as seen here in this Raytheon video profile.
“I’m a skills junkie,” McCoy said. “I think it’s important to develop your skills to be the person that you want to be.”
In McCoy’s case, being the person he wanted to be meant getting a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in the same field from Boston University, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the same school. It also meant mentoring an eighth-grader and helping the student make the honor roll for the first time.
“A lot of people helped me in my career,” he said. “And they showed me it’s important to share what you know. So I like helping others.”
McCoy, whose father was a Marine, was born in New Orleans and “basically grew up on military bases.”
Math interested him early on, and as a kid he saw a TV show about a robotics competition at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That made him want to go to MIT, and he got in – the first member of his family to go to college. He earned his bachelor’s in 2003, and crossed the Charles River to Boston University , where he earned his master’s degree three years later.
A Ph.D. was a logical next step, but he jokes that it was ‘60s camp TV, not academic ambition, that drove him to pursue his doctorate.
“I love Star Trek," he said, "and I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to be Dr. McCoy?”