Professor and Holder of the Thaman Professorship
Director, Vehicle Systems & Control Laboratory
B.S. Aerospace Engineering, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, 1986
M.S. Aerospace Engineering, University of Kansas, 1990
Ph.D. Aerospace Engineering, University of Kansas, 1995
John Valasek is Director, Vehicle Systems & Control Laboratory, Thaman Professor of Undergraduate Teaching Excellence, Professor of Aerospace Engineering, and member of the Honors Faculty at Texas A&M University. He has been actively conducting flight mechanics and controls research of Manned and Unmanned Air Vehicles in both Industry and Academia for 33 years. He was previously a Flight Control Engineer for the Northrop Corporation, Aircraft Division where he worked in the Flight Controls Research Group, and on the AGM-137 Tri-Services Standoff Attack Missile (TSSAM) program. John was the Founding Director of the multi-engineering department Center for Autonomous Vehicles and Sensor Systems (CANVASS), where he organized and led funding efforts in underwater, ground, air, and space autonomous systems. John holds a patent for autonomous air refueling of Unmanned Air Systems (UAS) and a patent for the design of a UAS and has published over 180 peer reviewed articles, including the first major archival journal paper on flight control for autonomous air refueling of UAS (2005). John is the author / co-author of four recent books: the first book on Morphing Aerospace Vehicles and Structures Wiley (2012); Advances in Intelligent and Autonomous Aerospace Systems AIAA (2012), Nonlinear Multiple Time Scale Systems in Standard and Non-Standard Forms: Analysis and Control SIAM (2014), andAdvances in Computational Intelligence and Autonomy for Aerospace Systems AIAA (2018). John has been with Texas A&M University since 1997, where he teaches courses in Aircraft Design, Atmospheric Flight Mechanics, Flight Test Engineering, Modern Control of Aerospace Systems, Vehicle Management Systems, and Cockpit Systems & Displays. John created the senior/graduate level course AERO 445 Vehicle Management Systems in 2006, which is the first regularly offered course on this topic in a U.S. aerospace engineering department.
John was a Summer Faculty Researcher at NASA Langley in 1996 and an AFOSR Summer Faculty Research Fellow in the Air Vehicles Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory in 1997. John has served on five Technical Assessment Boards for the National Research Council (NRC), and was appointed to the Steering Committee of the Decadal Survey of Civil Aeronautics in 2005-2006, which formulated and published a ten year plan for reinvigorating NASA aeronautics research.
John has served as Chair of Committee to 46 completed graduate degrees, including 6 NSF, 6 NDSEG, and 1 SMART graduate fellowship recipients, and his students have won national and regional student competitions in topics ranging from aircraft design to smart materials to artificial intelligence. John’s Ph.D. student Anshu Narang-Siddarth ’12 was the 2013 recipient of the Texas A&M University Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Research, Doctoral Level, for her dissertation titled “Analysis and Control of Non-Affine, Non-Standard Singularly Perturbed Systems.” John’s M.S. student Joshua Harris was the 2017 Outstanding College of Engineering Master of Science Graduate Student, and also a 2017 U.S. DOT / FAA Research Student of the Year. John has also supervised the research of 77 undergraduate students.
John is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and Senior Member of IEEE. He is currently a member of the AIAA Unmanned Systems Technical Program Committee, and the AIAA Intelligent Systems Technical Committee. He is a former member and Chair of the AIAA Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Technical Committee, as well as the AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Technical Committee and the AIAA General Aviation Technical Committee. He is currently an Associate Editor of the Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics.
John earned the B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 1986 and the M.S. degree with honors and the Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Kansas, in 1990 and 1995 respectively.
Autonomous and nonlinear control of cyber-physical air, space and ground systems
Air vehicle control and management
Vision based sensors and navigation systems
Advanced cockpit/UAS systems and displays
Control of Bio-nano materials and structures
- 2017 – Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). For “Pioneering contributions and outstanding leadership in flight mechanics and control leading to new capabilities in autonomous air refueling, morphing flight, and flight safety.” The AIAA confers the distinction of Fellow upon 1 percent of its members in recognition of their notable and valuable contributions to the arts, sciences or technology of aeronautics and astronautics.
- 2015 – John Leland Atwood Award, National Outstanding Aerospace Educator, ASEE/AIAA. Bestowed annually to recognize the accomplishments of a superior aerospace engineering educator and his or her contributions to the profession, and for demonstration of improvements of lasting influence to aerospace engineering education.
- 2009 – Outstanding Alumnus Award, Aerospace Engineering Department, Cal Poly Pomona
- 2008 – Sustained Service Award, AIAA Headquarters
- 2007, 2003 – Special Service Citation, AIAA Headquarters
- 2006 – Elected National President, Sigma Gamma Tau National Aerospace Engineering Honor Society
- 2006 – Group Achievement Award, SATS Project Team, NASA Headquarters
- 2005 – AIAA National Faculty Advisor Award.
- 2005 – Center Team Award, SATS Project Team, NASA Langley Research Center
- 2005 – Turning Goals Into Reality, SATS Project Team, NASA Langley Research Center
- 2016-2018 – University Thaman Professorship for Undergraduate Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M University. The award is conferred only upon the university’s most distinguished teachers of undergraduates — faculty who have exhibited uncommon excellence and devotion to the education of undergraduate students.
- 2008 – Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching.
- 2001 – Scholar Of The Montague Center For Teaching Excellence.
Texas A&M College of Engineering Level:
- 2004 – Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for Teaching.
- 2001, 2003 – B.P. Amoco Teaching Excellence Award.
Aerospace Engineering Department Level:
- 2001, 2004, 2014 – Thomas U. McElmurry Teaching Excellence Award. – Decided by the May and December graduating seniors in Aerospace Engineering, for exemplifying dedication and commitment to developing students professionally and academically by displaying a desire for students to succeed.