John Tomblin is the Executive Vice President for Research and Industry and Defense Programs at Wichita State University (WSU) and the Executive Director of the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR). He is also a Sam Bloomfield Distinguished Professor of Aerospace Engineering.

As executive vice president for Research and Industry and Defense Programs for Wichita State University (WSU), 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, 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.  He resides in Wichita, KS with his wife Katharine and three sons.


Academic Interests and Expertise

Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 1994
M.S., Mechanical Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 1991
B.S., Aerospace Engineering, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 1986


Dr. Tomblin has a number of publications in the areas of advanced materials research and has authored extensive reports in the NASA AGATE program as well as FAA technical reports which have resulted into FAA policy governing use of composites within the aerospace industry. 

Selected publications

  • S. Tomblin, J. D. Tauriello, and S. P. Doyle, (2002) “A Composite Material Qualification Method that Results in Cost, Time and Risk Reduction,” Journal of Advanced Materials, Volume 34, No. 4, October, pp. 41-50.
  • Shyprykevich, J. S. Tomblin, and M. G. Vangel, (2002) “The Development and Use of a Common Database for Composite Materials,” Testing Design and Acceptance Criteria, ASTM STP 1416, A. Zureick and A.T. Nettles, Eds., American Society for Testing and Materials International, West Conshohocken, PA .
  • S. Tomblin, Y. C. Ng and K. S. Raju, Material Qualification and Equivalency for Polymer Matrix Composite Material Systems, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration, Springfield, VA 22161, DOT/FAA/AR-00/47, April 2001, 119 pages.  (This document was actually followed by a policy directive issued by the FAA Small Airplane Directorate regarding the use of composites in FAR part 23 aircraft, Policy Statement Number ACE-00-23.613-01; Volume 65, Number 114 – which will influence all composite certifications of small aircraft in the future.)
  • Testimony before the United States Senate Department of Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Technology & Space on the future of the aerospace in the United States and how a partnership between Academia/Government/Industry can maintain a leadership position for the next century. This was an invited presentation from the US Senate Chairman of the Department of Commerce, Senator John McCain. http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/library/congress/2003_h/030227-tomblin.pdf.
Professional Experience

2019 - Present       Sr. V.P. Industry & Defense Programs, WSU

2012 - 2019            V.P. Research/Technology Transfer/Economic Development, WSU

2004 - Present       Executive Director, NIAR, WSU

2004                         Adjunct Professor, Wright State University

2001 - 2004            Director, Research & Development, WSU NIAR

2000 - 2004            Associate Professor, WSU

2000 - 2001            Adjunct Professor, Wright State University

1996 - 1997            Adjunct Professor, Kansas State University

1995 - Present       Composites/Structures Laboratory Director, WSU (NIAR)

1994 - 2000            Assistant Professor, Wichita State University (WSU)