May 7, 2020

Ninety Years Young and Still on the Job

When most people picture life at 90 years old, they probably imagine it’s filled with plenty of time for hobbies, time with family, relaxation and tales of their biggest accomplishments in the office. Although Billie Cottongim partakes in all of the above, he isn’t your average 90-year-old. In fact, he isn’t average in any way.

While he loves woodworking, Dixieland jazz, and reading up on science and history, the saying “Find a vocation you enjoy, and you’ll never work a day in your life” is a perfect summary of Billie and his ongoing career at DCS. He’s known around the office as a mentor and loves to spend his time sharing his love for engineering with others, which epitomizes his humble and selfless character.

Billie has always been the first one in the office and has the same drive as when he first started his distinguished career in physics and engineering more than half a century ago. At DCS, he works in engineering to develop fabrication and assembly drawings using AutoCAD and Solidworks software. His largest contribution to DCS production comes in the form of developing the company’s test fixtures and bringing others’ ideas to life.

In his 63-year career, which included a start in the United States Naval Proving Grounds, Billie has worked with numerous prestigious companies, including Texas Instruments and Honeywell. He has a enjoyed a myriad of successes and holds multiple patents, including a multi-element infrared sensor design, which became the prototype for the FLIR system detector array at Texas Instruments. Billie also created products such as low-noise amplifiers and detectors for the TOW Missile Systems, and while at Intrusion.com, a fiber optic cable termination laboratory that served networks at various U.S. government and military sites.

Since his birthday celebration looked a little different this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the DCS team along with Billie’s friends, family and neighbors wanted to make sure he could have a memorable birthday to celebrate, pulling a page from Billie’s playbook of finding innovative solutions to match ever-changing times. His surprise quarantine-style party in late April was complete with a birthday car parade and plenty of heartwarming words from others.

Although he has a number of personal and professional accomplishments under his belt, Billie is most proud to have had the opportunity to establish a nursing scholarship in honor of his late wife, Virginia. The Virginia Wiley Cottongim Memorial Scholarship was created in honor of her 40-year career as a registered nurse and is awarded to Collin College nursing program students who maintain at least a 3.0 GPA and take at least six credit hours per semester.

While veteran, Oklahoma State University graduate, great-grandfather, engineer and patent holder are all titles that Billie carries, Kevin and the rest of the DCS team are honored to simply know him as a friend and colleague.