As senior vice president for Industry and Defense Programs for Wichita State University (WSU), Dr. John Tomblin oversees more than 1,500 staff in laboratories and centers focused on applied learning, technology, innovation, and smart manufacturing. These include the Cyber Security and Forensics Group, Ennovar Technology Solutions, FirePoint Innovations Center, GoCreate, Kansas Procurement and Technical Assistance Center, Molecular Diagnostics Lab, National Institute for Aviation Research, National Institute for Research and Digital Transformation, Strategic Initiatives, Shocker Career Accelerator and Technology Training Team. 

In this role, Dr. Tomblin has advanced WSU’s Innovation Campus from a 120-acre golf course to a thriving community of global partners committed to providing applied learning opportunities for WSU students while advancing industry technology and innovation. These partners include Airbus, Boston Consulting Group, Dassault Systèmes, Deloitte, Hexagon, NetApp, Spirit AeroSystems, and Textron Aviation.

As executive director of WSU’s National Institute for Aviation Research, Tomblin has grown the university’s aerospace engineering R&D portfolio from $20 million in 2004 to more than $190 million. This places WSU fourth among all U.S. universities that perform aerospace R&D.  This activity is driven by more than 1,100 employees in 20 laboratories encompassing 1.5 million square feet in six locations across the city of Wichita.

One of Tomblin’s most significant accomplishments is extending NASA’s AGATE program into the National Center for Advanced Materials Performance (NCAMP), which gained acceptance from the FAA and EASA in 2010 and 2014 respectively. Another significant accomplishment is the establishment and growth the Digital Twin Program at WSU-NIAR, which has led to sustainment support and life extension for aircraft such as the F-18 Hornet, B-1 Lancer, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, F-16 Viper and M113 armored personnel carrier. He was also integral in the development and rapid growth of the NIAR WERX MRO program, established in 2020 with the announcement of its first Boeing 777 passenger to freighter conversion program.

Dr. Tomblin received his Ph.D., master’s degree and bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV.