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Professor and H. H. Arnold Chair John Schmisseur

Professor and H. H. Arnold Chair John Schmisseur has been selected to serve as executive director of the University of Tennessee Space Institute beginning August 1.

Aerial of the UT Space Institute campus

Located in Tullahoma, Tennessee, adjacent to the Arnold Engineering Development Complex, the institute is home to more than 80,000 square feet of laboratories featuring world-class facilities and instrumentation. UTSI’s capabilities complement and are frequently teamed with UT Knoxville’s capabilities in advanced materials and manufacturing and in high-performance computing.

The institute performs foundational and applied research and educates the next-generation expert workforce to meet the nation’s aerospace and defense needs. Research partners include Lockheed Martin, Texas A&M University, the University of Dayton Research Institute, and Purdue University, among others.

“We are excited to have Dr. Schmisseur take the position and are looking forward to implementing his vision for growth of UTSI and providing a greater impact on the nation’s aerospace and defense programs,” said Matthew Mench, Wayne T. Davis Dean’s Chair of UT’s Tickle College of Engineering, where Schmisseur will serve as an associate dean.

UTSI plays a pivotal role in the university’s land-grant mission by providing economic growth and workforce development opportunities for underserved communities in Middle and East Tennessee. The institute currently holds a critical role in a UT Knoxville initiative awarded by the Department of Defense to increase K–12 STEM access and ensure a pipeline of future talent.

“UTSI can play an even greater role for the state as the cornerstone of an advanced technology ecosystem that can draw from the nearby technology-intensive Huntsville, Alabama, region,” said Schmisseur. “We can leverage our engagement there to promote the expansion of aerospace and defense industries in southern Tennessee and foster economic development.”

That engagement includes the recent opening of a UTSI office in Huntsville to align research and development efforts more closely with national priorities. The institute is poised to help meet the needs of the US Space Force in preparing a world-class workforce and advancing technologies and systems to protect US and allied interests in space.

Research Capabilities
UTSI’s many active multidisciplinary programs engage faculty and students from multiple UT campuses for a comprehensive approach to tackling challenges in the aerospace and defense sectors.

Research centers housed at UTSI include the Tennessee Aerothermodynamics Laboratory, home to some of the largest high-speed wind tunnels—both Mach 4 and Mach 7—in academia, and the Center for Laser Applications, featuring innovative advancements in materials processing and optical diagnostics. The institute also houses one of the only afterburning jet engines on a university campus.

About UTSI
UTSI was founded in 1964 to connect and support faculty and scientists in coordination with the nearby Arnold Engineering Development Complex and has since graduated more than 2,000 students. It has provided countless examples of scientific breakthroughs, improvements in materials and mechanics, and advancements in flight both on and off planet. UTSI has a long history with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, including the graduation of nine astronauts who collectively account for more than a thousand days in space. UTSI is a campus of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

About John Schmisseur
Schmisseur first came to UTSI in 2014 after spending 23 years as a civilian employee of the US Air Force. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and a Fellow of the Air Force Research Laboratory, among numerous other Air Force and professional accolades.


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