Graduation Year: 1950
The Alumni Service Award recognizes outstanding volunteer service to Kettering University.
Ernie Platfoot has been an enthusiastic advocate and recruiter for Kettering University for many years, especially in the Fredericksburg, Texas area. Ernie has helped build a pipeline to Kettering University from Fredericksburg High School through the school’s innovative STEM technology program called SystemsGO Aerospace. The unique curriculum excites and inspires students to consider STEM careers by challenging them to research, design, build and launch rockets that break the sound barrier. The program is one of two organizations qualified to launch rockets at the White Sands Proving Grounds. The other is the United States Federal Government. The program has now been spread to 40 other high schools in Texas and continues to grow (more information is available at SystemsGo.org). Three students from the program have gone on to become Kettering students -- Hunter Casbeer, Efrain Quezada and Justin Junell (who now works at NASA along with his wife Rebecca, also a Kettering alumna).
Ernie was a “GM Brat,” attending school in nine different districts before graduating from high school. He graduated from GMI/Kettering in 1950 and then spent the next three years in the United States Army, serving in Korea. He was discharged in 1953. Ernie worked for three years in the retail automobile and insurance businesses and joined the Buick Division of General Motors in 1956. In the mid 1960s, he and Frank Andrews ‘50 started the New England Chapter of the GMI Alumni Association. They received a lot of help and direction from Charlie Sheridan, then Director of the Alumni Association, and that started a friendship that has lasted to the present. In the mid 1970s, at the behest of friends in California, and again with the help of Sheridan, his son Fred enrolled at GMI. Fred graduated in 1981 and is still employed in GM's Engineering Department. Ernie retired in 1991 after a 35 year career in the Sales Department. He and his wife Sandy ranched for 13 years and he became active in the Fredericksburg, Texas, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Fredericksburg Education Initiative and the Lutheran Church.
Ernie believes his education at GMI/Kettering was unique and beneficial to his career, and he plans to continue supporting Kettering through the SystemsGo program, among other ways.