Year Inducted: 2023
Mike Wicks’ career has been devoted to providing innovative engineering and technical services to the nation’s defense both as a United States Army civilian and as a private contractor for the Department of Defense. With his technical skills as a foundation, Wicks’ entrepreneurial spirit has strengthened his hometown of Huntsville’s competitiveness as a hub for a highly skilled workforce providing solutions to the country’s military engineering challenges.
Prior to retiring, his most recent role as Vice President, Hypersonic Engineering and Accelerated Technologies (HEAT), for Lockheed Martin Corporation in Huntsville is the culmination of a career that began as a civil servant for the Army that evolved into a start-up company taking on larger roles in the aerospace and missile defense sector in North Alabama through acquisitions and mergers. Wicks served as the steady throughline each step of the way.
After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Auburn University in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Wicks joined the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. During his 13 years as an Army civilian engineer, he significantly advanced the state of the art in tactical missiles. He also earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from The University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1993.
He demonstrated the advantages of kinetic energy projectiles for anti-tank weapons and made significant contributions to technology development for self-contained missile launch systems as the technical lead for the Container Launched Weapon System, or CLAWS, Program. The technologies developed under his guidance transitioned into the formal program of Non-Line of Sight Missile System.
His personal contributions to engineering are notably illustrated through the creation of several successful engineering and technical service firms. In 2001, he co-founded Summit Research Corporation, serving as president and chief executive officer. In four years, the company expanded to more than 100 employees and $30 million in annual revenue while playing a major support role in missile defense systems. The company was acquired by the publicly traded Digital Fusion Solutions Inc. in 2005, and work on missile defense systems continued. Wicks ultimately became president in 2008, leading the company’s more than 300 employees.
That same year, DFSI was bought by Kratos Defense and Security Solutions with Wicks named General Manager and Vice President. He successfully expanded the customer base and market penetration before transitioning back to his small business roots in 2009 by founding and leading Integration Innovation Inc., or i3.
During his 11 years steering i3, Wicks grew the company to more than 700 team members and $220 million in annual revenue. While creating a world-renowned technical workforce with expertise in hypersonic thermal protection systems, UAVs, virtual reality training systems, and cyber security, i3 was named a Best Place To Work by the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce for six years. In 2020, Lockheed Martin acquired i3’s hypersonic portfolio and Wicks was named as its Vice President. In 2021, the i3 employees acquired the other three portfolios through a 100% ESOP.
Known for his philanthropic commitment, the i3 Cares Foundation has supported the local community with donations and service. After retiring, he and his wife Christine formed the Wicks Family Foundation to continue their support of military veterans, underserved children, STEAM programs, as well as the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society.
After nearly 45 years in the Aerospace and Defense industry, Wicks put his technical and program management skills to work in the field of cancer research. As a cancer survivor himself, Wicks joined Houston-based Diakonos Research in 2022 as its President and is leading the company’s development of state-of-the-art cancer immunotherapies.