• STEM Hero Awards •

Paul J.
Fontanez, Ph.D

Strategic Mission Area Lead-
Core Engineering Director for Engineering,
Systems Engineering Test Requirements
Missile Defense Agency

Dr. Paul J. Fontanez has served continuously with the Department of Defense since 1984, initially as a commissioned Marine Corps Officer and, since 2005, with the Missile Defense Agency.

Dr. Fontanez curently serves as both the Technical Director and Strategic Mission Area Lead roles within the Missile Defense Agency’s Systems Engineering Test Requirements Directorate. He has held dual roles as an Integration Lead for Cyber Testing and Requirements Lead for multi-national ally test events, and also manages the US Naval Reserve Engineering Duty Offices located on the Redstone Arsenal. 

During his Marine Corps tenure, Dr. Fontanez served in varied PACOM and EUCOM assignments, working a variety of strategic level defense issues and served as the US Secretary of Defense’s senior military representative in various foreign countries, including Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

His professional military education includes Freefall Parachutist School, Air Traffic Control School, Airspace Management School, Joint Air Officer Staff School, Amphibious Warfare School, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle School, Command and Staff College, Joint Military Attaché School and Joint Forces Staff College. 

With such a long and prestigious career, Dr. Fontanez has managed to earn a chestful of medals including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Navy- Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Gold Star, Joint Service Achievement Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Gold Star, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Service Defense Medal, and the Kosovo Campaign Medal with Bronze Star.

A member of the Disabled American Veterans, the Frontiersman Camping Fellowship, the Royal Rangers Program, the Falcon Club of America and Compassion International, Dr. Fontanezgraduated from SUNY Binghamton with a B.S in Physics and Mathematics. He also holds an M.S. in Systems Management with Honors from Capitol Technical University, an M.S. in Systems Engineering from George Washington University and a Ph.D. in Public Policy with an emphasis in Economic Development from George Mason University. 

Dr. Fontanez is married to the former Ms. Tamara Lynn Hann and has raised eight wonderful children with her.