Gen. Lester Lyles, chairman of the NASA Advisory Council and former commander, Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, advises MITRE as a visiting fellow.
MITRE’s Visiting Fellows program engages external leaders in strategic focus areas, including national defense, cybersecurity, and health. Visiting fellows contribute to research and innovation programs, and many advise MITRE on healthcare, supply chain, cybersecurity, and more.
Lyles retired from the Air Force in 2003 after 35 years, including 26 years leading organizations in aeronautical and astronautical research, development, acquisition, and logistics.
Prior to his command at Wright-Patterson, Lyles was Air Force vice chief of staff and chief technology officer and directed the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization at the Department of Defense.
Lyles, a fellow in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics since 2022, also currently serves as chairman of the National Space Council’s Advisory Group–Office of the Vice President, and as chairman of the Defense Advisory Committee on Diversity & Inclusion–Office of the Secretary of Defense. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineers in 2011.
Lyles previously chaired the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academy of Engineering, served on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, and was a member of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board in the White House, the Defense Science Board, and the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) in the State Department.
He has received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, and Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster. Lyles was named Astronautics Engineer of the Year by the National Space Club in 1990 and received the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award for outstanding contributions to military equal opportunity policies and programs from the NAACP in 1994. He was named Black Engineer of the Year/Lifetime Achievement in 2003, and the Gen. Thomas D. White Award for distinguished service in national security, from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2012.
Lyles holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Howard University. He earned a master’s degree in mechanical/nuclear engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology program at New Mexico State University. Lyles also studied at the Defense Systems Management College at Fort Belvoir, Va., the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., the National War College in Washington D.C., and completed a National and International Security Management Course at Harvard University. He holds honorary Doctorate of Laws degrees from New Mexico State and Urbana University.