Alumni Spotlight: Kenneth Van Meter
Principal of Energy and Cyber Security at the Lockheed Martin Company in Phoenixville, Pa.
What do you feel is the value of a liberal arts and sciences education?
I earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in chemistry in 1969 from WVU, and a master’s of business administration from the University of Georgia. A background in the physical sciences lets us understand how everything in the universe functions and it has helped me give context to each new field I have become engaged in. The scientific method teaches us how to frame, understand and solve problems, not just in science, but in every facet of our lives. The urge to inquire, to understand, to stand at the edge and look beyond, makes it all fun and exciting.
Was the broad-based education you received at Eberly valuable to you in the career path you have taken?
I have enjoyed a wide ranging career, from flying fighter interceptors in the USAF, selling and marketing chemicals, helping invent video on demand and interactive television, taking video conferencing from an interesting idea to a powerful tool that most businesses now use, and forging new capabilities in the energy field.
Today, I am principal of Energy and Cyber Security at the Lockheed Martin Company, where I help lead the development and sales of new products and services to utilities and other energy entities, like Micro Grid operators, including the formulation of strategic partnerships with other leading companies. I have relied on the scientific and business skills I learned at Eberly to build my success and on the languages, history, literature and lessons from many interesting and valued friends and professors to make my life rich while doing it. I learned to love learning at WVU.
Any news you like to share?
I have just been awarded U.S. Patent 7,759,813 for a process to significantly increase the energy efficiency of buildings. Also, I was recently elected to the Board of Governors of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel, which is charged by the National Institute for Standards and Technology to finalize the standards for our next generation electric grid.
What is your fondest memory of WVU?
While in Air Force ROTC, I teamed with a professor Captain Fred Current to create a set of career development gaming modeling tools that were published and used by officers to enhance their careers. It was the first “real” thing I had created. Captain Current also mentored me in my own career and challenged me to take on more leadership roles which has guided me for the rest of my life.
Who was your favorite professor?
Doctor Rosenbaum, who taught me freshman honors history, impressed me more than anyone else at WVU. A refugee of the Nazi concentration camps, he worked his way through college in the Chicago stockyards and became a great thinker, a kind and giving man, and an author of the definitive text on the Weimar Republic, a cook book and a children’s book. He was my idea of a modern “Renaissance Man,” and showed by example that it is impossible to overcome the most dire challenges and still achieve greatness without sacrificing home and family.
What advice would you give to a future student?
Have an open mind, and resist categorizing or pigeonholing yourself or others. Time and life will take you down paths that, at least for a time, will define and constrain you, but keep a forward thinking view in which all things really are possible. I have had great and challenging opportunities in many fields and 30 countries, but none of them have been what I set out to do and be as a freshman at WVU.
What makes you most proud of being an Eberly graduate?
I am proud of Eberly’s continuing love of learning, the beautiful campus, the engaging and talented professors and leadership. I also enjoy the great sports teams, but the thing I am most proud of about Eberly and WVU is that we have never forgotten our heritage. While we must always embrace new ideas and new conditions, Eberly does it in the context of building on our greatness, not ignoring or diminishing it.
How do you stay connected to the Eberly College, alumni and friends?
I read the alumni publications with interest, and follow the sports teams. I also e-mail friends and fellow alumni, and connect with them on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Why do you enjoy giving back to the Eberly College?
I give because so much was given to me and it is the least I can do. I came from a modest family in a small coal mining town and had I not gotten a scholarship to WVU, I could not have attended there. No one at WVU ever treated me anything but well, and my financial circumstances never created a barrier for me. WVU is and always will be home to me.