I’m Michael Neer, a 1963 graduate of West High School.
While attending seventh through twelfth grades at our Alma Mater, I experienced both happy and sad times, like many others. During ninth grade, my dad died. My brother had entered the military, so it was just Mom and me. Thank God I had a loving extended family (aunts, uncles, and cousins most of whom are also West High graduates). It was a sad time but looking back it worked for my good contributing to the man I was to become.
I was looking for a father figure when in stepped chemistry teacher Mr. E. T. Stone, a knowledgeable and kind encourager who became my mentor. I had dreamed of becoming a rocket scientist from the time I was a little boy and he helped me develop a passion for the science behind it. Many other teachers at West High contributed to my future in a variety of subject areas but most of all helping me develop the discipline and study habits that made me well prepared for college.
Summary of my Professional Life
In February 1972, OSU awarded me a Ph.D. in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering preparing me for a fifty-year career (so far) as a defense contractor, working in various positions, always as part of like-minded teams of scientists and engineers.
From 1972-1975, I was a Visiting Scientist at the Air Force Aerospace Research Laboratories at Wright Patterson AFB doing basic research in air-breathing hypersonic propulsion (SCRAM Jets) which is still a hot area I’m working today.
From 1975-1979, I was Assistance Director of Aerophysics at Aeronautical Research Associates of Princeton (N.J) where I conducted research in a variety of technology areas supporting national defense.
In 1979, one of my professors from Ohio State and I formed SciTec Inc., in Princeton, NJ, where I took my technology to the field helping to test defensive military systems and getting them ready for production.
Finally in 1995, I created my own business, Neer, Inc. contracting with various U.S. government agencies, again involving defensive military systems. I’ve traveled a lot and get to play with many very expensive “toys.” Despite my age and health conditions, I just signed up for another five years. My government sponsors keep me around as much for my enthusiasm and sense of humor as my experience.
I am married to a very caring woman, Alice. We live in the North Georgia Mountains on a heavily wooded ten-acre lot with a lake, mountain view and lots of wild animals. Our lake is well stocked, but I prefer to buy fish from the supermarket already cleaned, filleted and ready to cook.
I have seven wonderful children, six boys and one girl, all healthy and doing well. They are all four years apart in age (30 consecutive years with a kid in college). I finally figured out it took me three years to forget how hard it is to have a new baby in the house. Whatever mistakes I may have made raising my children, I have since corrected when raising my trumpet plants.
Even though I attended church as a child, I didn’t accept Christ until age 46. Most important to me is leading a Men’s Saturday Morning Breakfast at my Church. I’ve done this fifty weeks a year for the last twelve years. We have a manly breakfast followed by a discussion on the practical aspects of being Christian men. Between 20 and 45 men attend each week. They remind me that my ministry isn’t about me. We share, we laugh and sometimes, we shed a few tears. I’ve put the Men’s Breakfast Group on Facebook. Surprisingly, nineteen people have joined who live out of state even though they don’t attend the breakfasts. They whine about the long drive.
By the Grace of God, I have been able to work with amazingly talented people and contribute to the development of numerous defensive weapon systems. While I currently have four serious health conditions, I’m thankful they haven’t prevented me from doing my job. I still work fifty hours a week and plan to do so until I either die or my sponsors put me out to pasture.
I appreciate the West High School Alumni for honoring my life and career by inducting me into the Hall of Fame. Thank you and God bless.