Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. And thank you, Norm, for that kind introduction. The Edison Achievement Award is named for one of our nation’s greatest innovators. So it is fitting that it is dedicated to those who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the world of innovation.
For this reason, I’m humbled and I’m honored to accept this award on behalf of the 100,000 women and men of Lockheed Martin.
It is a tribute to their vision, spirit, and ingenuity.
They are the ones who have made – and will always make – our company a leader in innovation on land, at sea, in the air, in space, and in the cyber realm.
Each year, the Edison Awards are a reminder that innovation is ultimately the product of
human minds and human energy.
Innovation begins with an idea. Yet, as this room knows, it takes initiative – and just plain hard work – to turn those ideas into reality. There are no short cuts. That’s why innovation can never be taken for granted. Innovators need to be encouraged, supported, and celebrated.
So, I thank the visionaries behind the Edison Awards for lifting up this year’s extraordinary honorees – and all those who came before.
At Lockheed Martin, we also strive to remember those who have played a defining role in our corporation’s legacy of technological leadership.
Innovators such as: Allan and Malcolm Lockheed, Glenn L. Martin, “Kelly” Johnson, Ben Rich, and many more.
One of those leaders is my dear friend, Norm Augustine, who was kind enough to join us and to offer my introduction this evening. It was Norm, as leader of Martin Marietta, who led the “merger of equals” alongside his Lockheed counterpart Dan Tellep, when our two legacy companies combined their operations in 1995.
Before this merger, our entire industry was facing one of the most challenging periods in our history. Norm navigated these challenges skillfully and ultimately positioned our corporation for decades of success. Thank you, Norm, for your wisdom, your friendship, and for what you’ve done to make not only Lockheed Martin, but America, stronger.
For the 105 years of our corporation’s existence, we have understood that innovation is
the lifeblood of our company and the key to a brighter future for all. It is a philosophy that we share with Thomas Edison. Like the “Wizard of Menlo Park,” we think a lot about how to create a culture of innovation that enables scientists, engineers, and visionaries to excel.
For decades, Edison was famous for his ability to organize, inspire, and focus his small circle of trusted colleagues.
They had one simple goal in mind: to invent. But it wasn’t invention for its own sake. It was invention that transformed lives. Edison once said he didn’t want to invent anything that wouldn’t sell. He believed that a product’s sale was proof of utility, and utility defines success.
One of Lockheed Martin’s greatest innovation leaders agreed. Kelly Johnson, the Founder of our legendary “Skunk Works” research and development division, understood the importance of creating the solutions that our customers needed the most. During the Korean War, he visited 15 air bases to learn what American pilots needed on the front lines. This strong sense of purpose and mission helped create a distinctive culture at Skunk Works – one that led to such iconic and transformative aircraft as: the XP-80, America’s first jet; the U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane; the SR-71 Blackbird, the world’s fastest jet; and the F-117 Nighthawk, the world’s first stealth fighter.
Such innovation continues today. Just last week, NASA awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to design, build, and test the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator an X-plane designed to make supersonic passenger air travel a reality.
This experimental technology could enable a commercial airliner to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in three hours without producing a disruptive sonic boom. The technologies we create are designed to make the world safer and more prosperous. We call it “innovation with purpose.”
As we look to technologies like the Low-Boom Flight Demonstrator and others, we see three factors that are key to sustaining revolutionary innovation.
The first is inspiration.
Innovators must have a strong vision for the future. They must recognize that their ingenuity and perseverance can unlock the new technologies and innovative approaches that lead to shared progress.
At Lockheed Martin, we serve customers across the U.S. government who seek to strengthen our national security, protect human life, and press forward science and human understanding.
We are inspired by them.
We know that innovation holds the key to meeting all their challenges. In a world where global threats are constantly emerging and evolving, Lockheed Martin’s ability to deliver new technologies and new capabilities with speed and agility can make all the difference in the world.
The second key factor is collaboration. By taking full advantage of diverse perspectives, we believe innovators can create world-changing innovations. Whether inventing the lightbulb, the phonograph, or the F-35 human ingenuity flourishes when the best and brightest minds are working together toward a common goal. That brings us to the third and final key to unlocking innovation – education.
America’s technological leadership must be strengthened and reinforced through every generation. That’s why we must encourage our youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. The STEM fields help equip students to innovate. And that spirit and capability has made America a beacon of hope throughout the world.
As we reflect on this evening, we celebrate the outstanding contributions each of this year’s Edison Award recipients have made – and will make – to our world.
I’m optimistic that as long as organizations like the Edison Awards are seeking to inspire innovation, we will continue to see progress and prosperity for generations to come.
Thank you for this very special honor.
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