Will Roper Joins Nunn School as Distinguished Professor of the Practice

Posted March 10, 2022

Will Roper, a two-time Georgia Tech alumnus and former assistant secretary of the Air Force and Space Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics, has joined the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs as a distinguished professor of the practice.

Roper earned bachelor’s and master’s degree in physics from Georgia Tech and a doctorate in mathematics from Oxford University, where he studied string theory as a Rhodes Scholar. In his Nunn School post, he will focus on mentoring students and writing thought leadership pieces on issues related to international security and technology.

“I’m incredibly excited to return to my alma mater,” said Roper. “I focused on the intersection of technology and national security while serving in the Pentagon; Georgia Tech and the Nunn School provide an exciting way to continue this.” 

Roper has spent more than 16 years helping develop cutting-edge military technology for the United States — from hypersonic weapons to the first artificial intelligence co-pilot. Most recently, he focused on bridging the gap between venture capital and defense procurement. While working as the Air Force's and Space Force's top weapons buyer, he forged closer ties with Silicon Valley, placing over 2,300 venture-backed companies on defense contracts. He also championed digital transformation technology to speed up innovation, crediting such technology with helping produce and fly the first “6th-generation fighter" flight demonstrator years ahead of schedule.

Now in the private sector, Roper serves as board member and advisor to numerous startups, investment funds, and the U.K. Royal Air Force.

“Will Roper is one of the finest minds at the intersection of technology and national security,” said Ash Carter, a former U.S. defense secretary. “While I was secretary of defense, he was my leading change agent for innovation and great-power competition. And as a fellow physicist, he shared my passion for accelerating emerging technology to our warfighters. I am delighted to see him join the national security faculty at Georgia Tech.”

Roper is excited to join the Nunn School’s other distinguished professors of the practice, which include former Joint Staff, policy, and operations senior officials who represent a microcosm of how the Pentagon works. Roper’s technology and procurement background adds another component. He also will be supporting the Georgia Tech Research Institute and Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering.

Students interested in speaking to Roper about technology and international security are invited to reach out to him at wroper3@gatech.edu.

“Students at Georgia Tech are uniquely positioned to be leaders in national security, because technology drives national and battlefield policies and strategies — rarely the other way around,” Roper said. “I hope to share what the future may hold and why shaping it is such an exciting place to spend a career.”

The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs is a unit of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.

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Grace Wyner

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Sam Nunn School of International Affairs | School of Public Policy