Leadership. It is a quality that all professors try to instill in their students. Lieutenant Colonel Carrie A. Cox (’99) strives to do this in all of her classes and training programs. “I think leadership is important in any field. Leadership is doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do,” she said. “We need that in our engineering careers, as well as any career. If somebody is trusting you to do your job well, then they are trusting that you are going to do the right thing.”
Cox currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies at Virginia Tech as an active duty member of the Air Force. This fall she will be teaching freshman in an introductory course and will be teaching seniors in the spring.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from the United State Air Force Academy in 1998 and a master’s degree in civil engineering from Virginia Tech in 1999. Like many alumni, Cox found her way back to Blacksburg after almost eight years on active duty. Her last assignment was an instructor for the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at Virginia Tech. She is happy to continue her time in Blacksburg, along with her husband Steven S. Cox, Assistant Professor in the CEE Department, and two children.
Early on in her Air Force career, she did aircraft maintenance and was responsible for managing equipment, tools, and hazardous materials, which reminded her of days in CEE laboratories. More importantly though, her CEE degree taught her to problem-solve. “As an aircraft maintainer and in the training world, I haven’t gotten out my CEE textbooks, but I definitely believe that the degree taught me to be a thinker and how to problem solve,” Cox said. “I now know how to approach any task and solve any problem.”
She hopes to instill those same qualities in her students, particularly the seniors that will soon leave campus after graduation. Cox has one piece of advice for them. “Embrace the opportunities in front of you.” As an alumni, she understands that Virginia Tech provides many great opportunities, but also that the doors are just opening for these graduates. “Challenge yourself and have some fun,” she advises.
During her active duty career, she led flight line maintenance on the C-130 and A-10 aircraft while commanding the Sortie Support and Sortie Generation Flights. In her first tour as an Air Force ROTC instructor at Virginia Tech, she taught freshman and junior cadets and served as the Commandant of Cadets for the Air Force Detachment. Since 2006, she has worked as an Admissions Liaison Officer in the Air Force Reserve, assisting high school students in southwest Virginia who are interested in the Air Force Academy of AFROTC scholarship programs. She has served as the Executive Officer for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets for the past eight years prior to returning to AFROTC Det 875.
Cox was honored at a Promotion Ceremony at War Memorial Chapel on June 3, 2016.