ERDC’s Director of the Information Technology Laboratory retires

Published 10:04 am Thursday, May 23, 2024

Dr. David A. Horner, director of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Information Technology Laboratory (ITL), has retired after 40 years of civil service.

A retirement ceremony was held in honor of the Clinton, Miss. native Tuesday, at ITL.

After earning his master’s in civil engineering from Oklahoma State University in 1984, Horner began his career at ERDC in the Dam Safety Branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District.

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Later, he earned his doctorate in civil engineering from the University of Michigan.

Horner served in that role for a few years before moving to the ERDC’s Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory (GSL) in Vicksburg where he served as the lead technical director for the Military Engineering Program and then was promoted to the senior scientific technical manager.

Horner transitioned to ITL in 2015 where he served as the director of the High-Performance Computing Modernization Program (HPCMP) which supports one of only five of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Supercomputing Resource Centers.

Originally established as an Army Supercomputer Center in 1989, ERDC’s first supercomputer arrived in 1990 and the DoD formed the HPCMP two years later.

Since then, ITL has fielded some of the world’s largest and most powerful supercomputers, ERDC officials said.

The HPCMP provides a modeling and simulation ecosystem that integrates supercomputing capabilities and computational science expertise, where scientists and engineers can conduct a wide range of research activities because the HPCMP furthers their creativity, productivity and impact.

In 2018, Horner was appointed as the director of ITL where he led a wide range of research and development programs from high-bandwidth communications and data transfer to scientific visualization.

ITL has been named the World-Class Best Place to Work by The Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey since 2019.

This survey is administered every year to ensure employees across the federal workforce have the chance to confidentially provide feedback on many topics that directly impact their daily work life.

“It’s the enthusiasm and energy that David brings every day that makes people want to work here,” said Dr. David Pittman, director of ERDC. “He leads with humility and would never admit to being the smartest guy in the room – but guess what? He usually is.”

The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) solves the nation’s toughest engineering and environmental challenges, Pittman said.

Horner said that he has adopted what he believes to have been his father’s philosophy: God gave you a brain, so use it every day of your life.

Horner also gave credit to his parents for influencing him to be the kind of leader that he is today.

“They treated me and my siblings as individuals – as unique people,” said Horner. “They really instilled in all of us the value of the individual and that laid the foundation of my philosophy on how to lead.”

ERDC Deputy Director Patricia Sullivan, said Horner not only talks the talk, but he walks the walk.

“One of the reasons that I am here as ERDC’s deputy director is because, many years ago, Mr. Horner convinced someone to take a chance on me, and I am eternally grateful for that,” said Sullivan.

Horner said he believes that relationships are important and that seeing the value in each person’s unique abilities is what leads to success.

“Sometimes the most impact that we can do for an organization isn’t what we physically do but our ability to allow other people to do what they are exceptionally good at,” said Horner.“Identifying people and encouraging them to go out and be good for the organization.”

Throughout his career, Horner has been the recipient of the Department of the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the Army Engineer Association’s Bronze Order of the de Fleury Medal and the Society of American Military Engineers Wheeler Medal.