The Clemson Alumni Association presented Michael L. Watt of Kennesaw, Georgia with the 2018 Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest honor for a Clemson graduate.
“The Distinguished Service Award allows us to take time to recognize a few truly remarkable members of the Clemson family, and Mike Watt is certainly one of those,” said Clemson University President James P. Clements. “Mike achieved incredible success in his career in technology, through his devotion to community service and in his commitment to making Clemson University better and more innovative every day. We are proud of Mike and the example of service he sets for all of us.”
Watt was born in North Carolina, grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., and moved to Charleston at age 12. Like his father and brother, Watt chose Clemson University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1984 in the new field of computer engineering. Throughout all four years at Clemson, Watt dated his future bride, Kimberly K. Fowler ’85. They were married in 1985.
With encouragement from his mentor, John Gowdy, Watt went on to graduate school, earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1986. He then began work at the Georgia Tech Research Institute designing radar systems, satellite communications systems and computer networks for the U.S. Department of Defense. In 1989, Watt joined his father’s startup company, Scientific Research Corporation (SRC), which provides innovative technology solutions to government, military and private organizations. Over the last 29 years, SRC has grown to employ more than 1,300 high-tech professionals tackling some of the military’s greatest challenges. He currently serves as the chairman and CEO of SRC.
Watt has held leadership positions in several organizations, including the British American Business Group and the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. He received the National Small Business (Tibbetts) Award in 2000 for small business research contributions and was recognized with a top job-creator award in South Carolina. Watt and his family have supported Mount Paran Christian School, Grady Memorial Hospital and North Metro Church in Kennesaw, Georgia, as well as Clemson Athletics.
Watt has served in several key leadership roles for Clemson advisory boards, including in the Clemson University Research Foundation; the Holcombe Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences; and on the Clemson University Foundation board of directors. His gifts and vision helped create the state-of-the-art Watt Family Innovation Center. For his commitment to promoting innovation on and off campus, Watt was inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists in 2008.
The prestigious Clemson Alumni Distinguished Service Award is based on three main criteria: personal and professional accomplishments; dedication and service to Clemson University; and devotion to community and public service. Members of the Clemson family nominate potential winners, who are then selected by the Clemson Alumni Association as outstanding alumni, public servants and examples to others.
“It has been a pleasure to follow Mike’s career and see the impact he has made on Clemson University, the engineering profession, the well-being of our state and nation, as well as the lives of many people,” wrote A. Wayne Bennett, dean emeritus of the Clemson University Graduate School.
The Watts have two sons, Wes ’13 and Austin ’16, and a daughter, Mary Katherine, a freshman at Clemson. As a hobby, Watt enjoys competitive automotive racing in Ferrari and Le Mans prototype cars. His racecars are decorated with Clemson colors and themes.