Michael Pestorius
Michael Pestorius, lecturer with OLLI's UT SAGE program

Michael Pestorius employs military and research career to develop OLLI programs


For almost 50 years, Michael Pestorius has demonstrated a commitment to lifelong learning. Graduating from the Naval Academy in 1961, Pestorius served in the submarine force leading to his command of the missile submarine, the USS Mariano G. Vallejo. Concurrently he pursued advanced degrees; first, in Applied Physics, then in Electrical Engineering. He spent the later years of his naval career overseeing the Navy’s research laboratory in San Diego. Retiring from the Navy, he became the Executive Director of the university’s Applied Research Laboratories (ARL:UT). Today, he oversees ARL:UT’s internal research and summer student education programs.

In 2004, Pestorius became a member of UT SAGE, part of CIE’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), where he draws upon his naval and applied research experiences in developing presentations for fellow OLLI members.

How does your career influence your OLLI experiences?

"I present material on subjects that I know about from my Navy service related to nuclear power, submarines, submarine sensor and weapons systems and on the work that is done at the UT Applied Research Laboratories. My Navy experiences influence what I do at the lab daily. We work primarily for the military. Hence, the work keeps me close to the needs and capabilities of the submarine fleet. "

How has lifelong learning been valuable to you?

"Knowledge is perishable and needs to be refreshed. Remaining current keeps me effective in assisting ARL:UT to meet our obligations to our sponsors and I find it intellectually satisfying to keep learning. Working on specific projects and overseeing the many developments within ARL: UT keeps my interest and knowledge of technology current. Recently, I managed the UT contribution to the counter IED (improvised explosive device) work sponsored by the Office of Naval Research."

As a veteran of the armed forces, to what do you attribute your success in your civilian career?

"I have had a rich and fulfilling career after leaving the service. Veterans aren’t any different from non-vets in pursuing life-long learning. Some people understand the necessity of such activities and some—unfortunately—don’t. People must be flexible and willing to mold their skills to different work problems. The navy was very good at instilling this idea of the importance of continuing training and education."

Based on all you’ve done, what advice can you offer your peers regarding how to get the most out of retirement?

"I believe that what keeps you younger in outlook is experiencing new knowledge and learning."

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at The University of Texas at Austin provides educational and social benefits to adult learners. OLLI members may enroll in a range of non-credit, non-graded short courses offered purely for the love of learning and the promise of connecting to a social and academic environment. Visit OLLI’s Web site for more information.


Tags: ut sage, olli, michael pestorius, lifelong learning, applied research laboratories,