Mississippi-native twins reaching for the stars with Boeing
Published 9:33 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2023
When faced with a challenge, Jeff Weathers has a 24/7 sounding board — his identical twin, Jim Weathers. After more than a dozen years working together supporting various programs across the Boeing enterprise, the brothers have shown they can solve some of the toughest problems in aerospace.
Director of Structures and Innovation Ken McCormick, who hired Jeff and Jim, said, “It’s inspiring to be in the room when the two are collaborating on a project. Their brotherly candor sparks honest communication and moves their teammates to speak up without hesitation.”
“We’re building launch vehicles, and the problems we solve are hard,” Jim said. “It’s not uncommon for colleagues to disagree, but those disagreements lead to communication, which leads to better solutions.
“Our teammates work together like close friends, communicating candidly, converging ideas quickly and working efficiently. That’s the nature of solving problems.”
On Nov. 16, 2022, the brothers watched the successful early-morning launch of NASA’s Space Launch System for the Artemis I mission with their families in Huntsville, Alabama. When the boosters lit, Jim felt the butterflies in his stomach and immediately reached out to Jeff.
“My daughters just thought the fire was cool,” Jeff laughed. “It jumped off the pad quicker than I thought, so it was exciting and a little scary. I think I held my breath until the core stage separated.”
Talking to Jeff, Jim was surprised at the emotion he felt during the launch. But as usual, his feelings matched his brother’s.
“All that hardware, I’d been working on it for more than a decade,” said Jeff, acknowledging the unique opportunity the brothers enjoy, working on the same program at the same company.
In addition to their work supporting the Artemis I mission, the brothers are two of the early architects associated with the Boeing-built Exploration Upper Stage, which is scheduled to fly on the evolved configuration of the SLS rocket for the Artemis IV mission. As leads on an early design team which quickly grew from a handful of teammates to hundreds, they helped mature the new upper stage design from a clean sheet.
“From the interstage all the way to the forward adapter, we’ve poured everything into that stage,” said Jeff.
“I know how I felt during Artemis I, and we can hardly wait until the Artemis IV mission,” said Jim. “I get goosebumps thinking about that rocket and that mission.”
Growing up in Starkville, the Weathers brothers drew motivation, accountability and confidence from each other.
“We’re competitive in a supportive way,” Jim said.
Throughout school, they challenged each other and relied on their community for support. Seeing their talents for problem solving, teachers and friends encouraged their interests and aptitudes in math and physics. Neighbors gave them rides to school for early class opportunities.
With Mississippi State University in their hometown, and both parents working on staff there, the Weathers brothers were surrounded by engineering mentors. Both earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees there, and the two co-authored four peer review journal articles.
Jim completed his doctoral degree at Mississippi State. Jeff earned his doctorate at the University of Alabama. That’s one of only a handful of differences between them.
Both are members of Boeing’s Technical Fellowship, representing the top three percent of Boeing’s technical and scientific community. As Associate Technical Fellows, they help teammates recognize assignments and opportunities that will prepare them to apply for the fellowship as well. With a passion to develop Boeing talent, they also serve as executive focals for Mississippi State.
And, in an honor reserved for less than one percent of NASA employees and contractors, both have received NASA’s Silver Snoopy Award. Jeff was awarded a Silver Snoopy in 2018, and Jim received a Silver Snoopy in 2023.
Speaking of his career, Jeff said, “I’ve been lucky to be involved in the development of some of the most amazing products, including launch vehicles, missiles and weapons, and uncrewed undersea vehicles. But even better, I get to do it all through compounding collaboration with my brother.”