Former Air Force general Robert C. Mathis has been named president and chief executive officer of Star Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of high-speed scientific computers that is emerging from several years of setbacks.

Mathis will succeed Herbert S. Shaw, a Portland, Ore. financier, who was brought in by company founders in 1985 to restructure management and cut operating costs. Shaw said he plans to return to his company, Shaw Venture Partners of Portland, but will remain chairman of Star.

"{Mathis} possesses an outstanding combination of management experience and superior technical knowledge," Shaw said. "He's been the most active board member and really has the gut interest of the company at heart. . . . It's a real coup to have him come here."

Mathis joins the company from Toomay, Mathis Associates Inc., a high-tech manufacturing and consulting company he founded in Bozeman, Mont. In his 34 years in the military, he held a number of high-ranking positions, including vice commander of Air Force Systems, where he oversaw Air Force procurement activities. He also was vice chief of staff and director of the F15 aircraft program.

Mathis, 59, was named to the board of Star in 1986, two years after the company went public. The company trades over the counter.

"My main job will be to expand the current marketing and sales, while at the same time developing new products," Mathis said.

Star was founded in 1981 by a group of engineers from Floating Point Systems Inc., a multimillion-dollar scientific computer company in Portland. Star initially developed a computer for seismic data processing, used in oil exploration to identify potential sites for petroleum and minerals.

The company ran into major financial trouble in 1985 after the fall in oil exploration caused its major market to dry up, Shaw said. More than 60 percent of the company's sales had been generated by sales of the seismic exploration computer. Losses mounted to $8 million in fiscal 1985.

Shaw, whose firm was a major investor in Star, was named president, chief executive officer and chairman of Star in November 1985. Along with several other board members, he drew up a reorganization plan on the plane ride from Portland to Sterling, Va., he said.

"I don't think any of us ever thought the company would be a failure," Shaw said. "But for three months, we worked around the clock."

The company recently reported its first profitable year in fiscal 1987. Revenue was $44 million, compared with $15 million in revenue for 1986. Profits were $2.6 million, compared with losses of $20 million in 1986.

Shaw attributed the turnaround to a stringent restructuring that reduced operating costs, cut staff from 245 to 180, refinanced the company's debt as well as secured additional funds from General Electric Co.

General Electric Medical Systems, one of Star's largest clients, uses one of Star's computers in its high-speed CAT scan, which is used to take internal X-rays of the body. GE lent the company $5 million in a floating loan, which was repaid last year along with an additional $4.6 million to other creditors, Shaw said. Shaw, as well as Robert C. Compton, vice president of finance and administration, is a former GE employe.

The company also markets high-speed computers for molecular modeling and military intellegence-gathering activities.

Mathis holds a master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Texas. BANKING, FINANCIAL SERVICES

Ferris and Co. Inc., a District investment firm, has promoted Lester B. Guthorn to vice president in the public finance department; Patricia A. Sanders to vice president of personnel; Dianne E. Summers to vice president for the branch of the vice chairman, and Karl B. Woolfenden to vice president and supervisor in accounting.

Allied Capital Corp., a local venture capital firm, has promoted David P. Parker to general counsel.

Jefferson Bank and Trust Co. of Greenbelt has promoted Arthur A. Barsi to vice president.

The Federal National Mortgage Association has elected Samuel A. Alward executive vice president of technology. Alward suceeds William A. Dawson, who resigned from the corporation. He joined the company last November as president and chief executive officer of the National Mortgage Exchange Interium Corp., a Fannie Mae subsidiary that the corporation decided not to pursue. Fannie Mae also named Hugh E. Flaherty senior vice president of corporate affairs.

Benjamin O. Wood Jr. has been named senior vice president of operations for Capital Bank N.A. in the District. Wood had been senior vice president of the property management division of United Virginia Bank in Alexandria following its merger with NS&T Bank of the District.

First American Bank of Maryland of Silver Spring has promoted Roger J. Dankel to senior branch officer of Chevy Chase and Stephen W. Pindell to vice president of Howard County corporate banking. COMMUNICATIONS

The Martin Agency, a Richmond advertising agency, has promoted Paul V. McKee to senior vice president; Karen Bell to group vice president; Dale P. Brown to senior vice president of agency services; W. Thomas Robinson to senior vice president of account management, and Diane Baar to vice president and director.

The local communications company of Hager, Sharp and Abramson Inc. has hired Allison Wheeler as an associate. Wheeler joined the company from Manning, Selvage and Lee, where she was an assistant account executive.

Colortone Press Creative Graphics Inc. of the District has appointed Chuck Bohrer senior technical consultant. Bohrer had been vice president of manufacturing and director of research and planning at Holladay-Tyler Printing Co. of Glenn Dale, Md.

Weitzman, Dym and Associates Inc., a local advertising firm, has promoted Rich Livingston to partner and executive vice president. Livingston has been with the agency since 1979 as senior vice president of marketing services. The company also promoted Leon Kislowski to senior vice president and creative director, Charles Somerville to senior vice president, and Sheila Huff to media director.

Lightnet, a fiber optics communications firm in Rockville, has named John A. Colucci director of national sales and James W. Rei director of marketing. COMPUTERS

Dennis Doe has joined the Software Productivity Consortium as vice president of sofware product transfer. Doe joined the consortium from Boeing Aerospace Co., where he had been manager of software and artificial technology.

Information Systems and Networks Corp. of Bethesda has named Gen. Robert E. Messerli corporate vice president of regional operations. Messerli had been assistant deputy to the chief of staff for program and resources at the Pentagon. HOTEL, FOOD SERVICES

The Willard Inter-Continental Hotel has appointed Lynda Jo Clugston to director of marketing and M. Merella Peterson to director of sales.

Craig W. Williams has been named vice president of the John B. Coleman and Co. and managing director of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, one of the hotels owned and managed by the company. Williams had been general manager of La Belle Creole, a resort on St. Martin of the French West Indies. PROFESSIONAL

The Maxima Corp. of Rockville has named Rahul Srivastava to corporate senior vice president. Srivastava joined the company from TRW Inc., where he was the director of mortgage reporting services.

Fifteen local lawyers have joined McGuire Woods Battle and Boothe, a 300-member law firm with eight offices in Virginia and one in the District. They are Robert T. Adams , John W. Burke III, John V. Cogbill III, Leroy R. Hassell, Jeremiah J. Jewett III, Gary S. Marshall, Clifford R. Oviatt Jr., Mims Maynard Powell, Deborah Moreland Russell, Michael J. Schewel, Derek L. Smith, James F. Stutts, Frederick J. Tansill, Eva S. Tashjian-Brown and J. Christopher Wiltshire. Also, Judge Cyrus E. Phillips IV has joined the firm as an attorney of counsel.

Christopher Timm has joined the Environmental Technology Group of Science Applications International Corp. as manager of the waste management department. Timm, a professional engineer, had been director of environmental operations for Jacobs Engineering.

Harry Weese and Associates, a District architectural firm, has named Lewis L. Faulkner Jr. senior architect. Faulkner had been resident architect for the renovation of Tysons Corner Center Shopping Mall.

Jocelyn White has been appointed vice president of Washington services at the Arnold and Porter Consulting Group. She had been manager.

Larry Patterson and Patrick E. Preston Jr. have joined the local law firm, Milton Jernigan and Associates.

Figgie International Inc. of Richmond has reelected Alfred V. Gangnes, John S. Lanahan, F. Rush McKnight, Harrison Nesbit II and A.A. Sommer Jr. to its board of directors.

D.L. Flynn and Associates, an accounting firm in Alexandria, has appointed Bob Tandler director of computer-aided design services. The firm also named Stephen Heisel director of systems consulting.

The Betac International Corp. of Arlington has named A. Larry Elliott vice president for business and technology development. He had been president and chief operating officer at Management Logistics International, a Bicorp subsidiary. The firm also named Richard Bolandz assistant vice president of MLI. RETAIL, WHOLESALE

Crown Books Corp. of Landover, Md., has named Miriam H. Bass, Stephen J. Hall and George L. Turner assistant vice presidents of the company.