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(Female narrator) Charles Watt.
The older of two boys born to Charles and Bertha Watt, of Pelzer, SC, Charles and his
brother Donald enjoyed the simple pleasures of growing up in the rural South. Charles
remembers his daily two-mile walk to school, playing various instruments in the school
band, and time spent with his father deep sea fishing. And working hard in his dad’s
automotive repair business.
After graduation from Palmetto High School in 1955, Charles headed down the road a few
miles to attend Clemson. He loved to kid his parents about why he went there.
(Charles Watt) I used to always remind my father and my mother,
I said, “Well, you drove me to Clemson.” They said, “How was that?” I said, “You
worked me so hard that I had to find some other alternative that I thought I wouldn’t
have to work so hard my whole career!”
(Narrator) Looking for a career other than the one he
grew up with (automotive repair), Charles quickly found his calling in engineering;
more specifically, electronics. His challenging course load as an electrical engineering student
made him look forward to his daily drills as an Air Force ROTC cadet, just to get a
break from the books. Looking back to those campus days, Charles credits the faculty and
the Clemson experience for preparing and guiding him to his life’s work.
(Charles Watt) Dr. Thurston was indeed my favorite professor.
He was an excellent instructor. He really was a student’s professor, as far as presenting
things in a way that could be well understood. And he was a mentor after class, in helping
from the standpoint of understanding engineering and the principles of engineering. Clemson
did something to me that I think it does to so many graduates: it really provided a foundation
for my career for life. And that’s what I took away from Clemson, was a foundation
over those four years that was, barring none, as good as it gets.
(Narrator) Charles also met and married his wife Linda
while at Clemson, thanks to an introduction by his good friend, Parker Martin, who just
happened to be her cousin. Linda has enjoyed a career as a registered nurse. She and Charles
have been married for almost 55 years, and have two sons: Stephen, a 1981 Clemson graduate,
and Michael, who graduated in 1984. And the next generation is maintaining those Clemson
traditions. Both Stephen’s and Michael’s wives, and their children, are all dedicated
Graduating in 1959 with a BS in Electrical Engineering, Charles used the academic and
professional foundation laid at Clemson to guide him through additional education, and
a professional career leading teams and forming partnerships to solve complex problems for
industry, government, and academia.
Charles went on to earn his MBA in 1972 from the Industrial College of the Armed Services,
and both a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Engineering from George Washington University,
in 1973 and 1986, respectively.
Beginning his engineering career at Bendix Corporation, it wasn’t long before his expertise
was sought by the US government. He then spent 20 years as an engineer and executive in government
Charles began at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in Washington, DC, where he
reached high levels of achievement as director of the C3 systems engineering office. He then
moved to Charleston, as technical director of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command.
Moving back to Washington, he served as director of telecommunication technology assessment
for the US Congress, before going to the Pentagon as director of defense, test, and evaluation,
in the office of the Secretary of Defense. That was during President Reagan’s administration.
(Charles Watt) I worked for the Administration under President
Reagan. And as a part of that basic activity, was the time that we as a nation were building
some of the most modern weapons systems, the most modern technology we had ever dreamed
(Narrator) In 1986, Charles left Washington to direct
research at Georgia Institute of Technology. He later joined Clemson as a professor and
associate vice president for research. But the culmination of his professional achievements
is probably best represented in the advanced technology company that he founded in 1991,
and led as chairman and CEO. Headquartered in Atlanta, Scientific Research Corporation
(SRC) was established to reach across disciplines and build teams to solve complex problems.
As a result, SRC provides a wide variety of national defense and global security electronic
products and related services.
(Charles Watt) Towards the end of my basic work program,
I went back to two basic loves. One was academics, and I am really delighted to still be involved
in academics at Clemson University. And the other was some of the companies I have founded,
and one being Scientific Research Corporation. And I have been privileged to see it go from
a startup company, to a transition, to a world-class operation. To me, when you can see those kind
of achievable goals and visions, and you see it in the span of your career, what a delight.
(Narrator) Today, Charles is retired from SRC, but serves
as a consultant and as a member of its board. His sons, Michael and Stephen, now own and
operate this fast-growing company, leading more than 1,500 employees with annual revenues
topping $300 million.
For decades, Charles has applied this same talent for achievement, building partnerships,
and solving complex problems, honed in his career, to his service to Clemson. He currently
serves on the Board of Directors of the Clemson University Foundation, and as a trustee on
the South Carolina Research Authority Board. He and Linda are major donors to the University
and IPTAY, and are members of the Benjamin Ryan Tillman Society.
As a faculty member, Charles established international agreements between Clemson and universities
in Hong Kong, China, Budapest, and Moscow. He was instrumental in helping Clemson secure
Congressional and Department of Commerce support for the National Textile Center, and is a
long-standing supporter of advanced material and computational research projects at Clemson.
(Charles Watt) Objectives and visions at Clemson University
require each and every one of us to step forward. It requires us to do all, and the best we
can, to accomplish the vision that has been established for our university.
(Narrator) Charles has been recognized throughout his
career for his exceptional leadership, achievements, and contributions across government, industry,
and academia. He was awarded the Department of Defense medal for distinguished service,
and was also recognized with a commendation for special service to the United States Congress.
In 2002, he was inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists,
and was named a Clemson Alumni Fellow in 2006.
(Charles Watt) Well, for me, success is important. And I
would define success from a saying that I heard many, many years ago. It is progressive
realization of one’s own predetermined worthwhile goals. And if you can look back at that, and
say, “I have been successful” in a series of elements, or if it’s just one that you
have fundamentally have great belief in, to me, that’s success.