Center for Composite Materials - University of Delaware

John W. Gillespie, Jr.

Donald C. Phillips Professor
Director, Center for Composite Materials
Phone: (302) 831-8702
Fax: (302) 831-8525
201 Composites Manufacturing Science Laboratory
Newark, DE 19716

Google Scholar Profile
Prof. Gillespie’s Dossier


Executive Summary

Dr. Gillespie has served the University of Delaware Center for Composite Materials (UD-CCM) in several roles since 1981, achieving the position of Director in 1996. Dr. Gillespie is also the Donald C. Phillips Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and holds joint appointments in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

As Director, Dr. Gillespie has established an internationally recognized center of excellence in composites. He has created an intellectually stimulating and highly interdisciplinary research environment for affiliated faculty, research professionals, graduate and undergraduate students, postdoctoral fellows, visiting scholars and industry partners to collaborate among themselves as well as with the Center’s government and industrial sponsors. Dr. Gillespie has established a dedicated state-of-the art composites facility and maintains an open-lab philosophy to encourage participation in research and educational activities. Under his leadership, he has nearly doubled the size of UD-CCM with 52,000 sq. ft. of laboratory space housed in two facilities housing more than $25M in equipment. On campus, basic and applied research is conducted in our Composites Manufacturing Science Laboratory. Off-campus, larger scale manufacturing and prototyping is conducted at his Application and Technology Transfer Laboratory. As Director, Dr. Gillespie directly supervises approximately 40 research professionals, administration and technical support staff and manages an annual research expenditure of $15.3M derived from contracts and grants in FY 22.

Building on traditional strengths and by funding new initiatives, Dr. Gillespie has engaged more than 57 affiliated faculty from 5 colleges that advise undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students in exciting new composite research areas of basic research. Dr. Gillespie has maintained a commitment to undergraduate education and research by continuing the CCM undergraduate research program with more than 76 students and over 40 researchers have been involved in CCM activities in 2022.

In 1996, Dr. Gillespie assumed leadership of the Center’s University-Industry Consortium, “Application of Composite Materials to Industrial Products,” with only three members. More that 400 companies have participated in consortium. To meet the needs for applied research and technology transfer, Dr. Gillespie has hired a full-time research professional staff with a wide range expertise in composites to work closely with our industrial and government sponsors as well as the faculty and students. Dr. Gillespie has worked diligently to maintain an optimum balance of basic and applied research to ensure that CCM is not only at the forefront of the science of composites but also able to solve real-world engineering problems to benefit the Center’s sponsors. Dr. Gillespie has established major research programs through numerous university-industry-government partnerships.

Dr. Gillespie is also an accomplished researcher and educator. Dr. Gillespie has been the Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI on five prestigious Centers of Excellence since 1996. He was the PI of two Army Research Laboratory (ARL) Centers of Excellence (1996-2014), one in multifunctional composite materials and the other in mechanics and performance of composites. He was also co-PI on an Office of Naval Research (advanced materials and intelligent processing) established in 1997-2014. The fourth was funded by the Federal Aviation Association (advanced composite materials for commercial aircraft) as part of the Wichita State University team. In 2012, ARL established a Cooperative Research Alliance with Hopkins, Rutgers and Cal Tech and UD on Materials Under Extreme Dynamic Environments of which Dr. Gillespie is a member of the core management committee and UD’s PI. This major center was renewed this year through 2022. Overall, Dr. Gillespie has received over $180 million as PI/Co-PI and supervised as Director $223 million from industry and government sources to support his research and Center activities.

Dr. Gillespie has an impressive record of scholarship conducting high quality basic and applied research in collaboration with his students and colleagues from academia, government, and industry. He has authored/co-authored more than 982 publications in composites science and technology including 19 book/book chapters, 25 patents, 379 refereed journal papers and 559 proceeding papers (also presented at the conferences). His work has been highly cited by his peers with more than 21,959 citations and an h-index of 77 and i10-index of 386.

As a teacher and mentor, he has advised more than 48 PhD and 57 master’s students. His former students have gone on to successful careers in academia (19 teaching at other universities), government, and industry. He was chosen as the recipient of the Faculty Advisors Award from SAMPE in 2001. He has also been proactive as a mentor to Historically Black Colleges and Universities as a Member of the National Science Foundation Task Force for Development of the first Doctoral Program at Tuskegee University (an HBCU). Today, he is an adjunct faculty member at Tuskegee. He also served as Chair of the external advisory board for the NSF CREST program for Southern University (a Minority Institution). He has hosted faculty and students from both HBCU schools at UD-CCM. In addition to his graduate students, Dr. Gillespie’s research group also includes 50 research faculty, professionals, and technicians.

Dr. Gillespie has served as a member of the prestigious and influential National Research Council Board on Manufacturing and Engineering Design, and Chair of the National Materials Advisory Board Committee on High-Performance Structural Fibers for Advanced Polymer-Matrix Composites. Dr. Gillespie has been Editor of the Journal of Thermoplastic Composite Materials since 1993, and he serves on numerous editorial boards. Over the past few years, Dr. Gillespie was the Co-Chair of the 24th Technical Conference of the American Society for Composites and the Canadian Association for Composite Structures and Materials, Chair of the International Advisory Committee for the Second World Conference on 3D Fabrics and Their Applications, Co-Chair, TEXCOMP9, International Conference on Textile Composites and International Co-Chair of the 13th US-Japan Conference on Composite Materials, held in Tokyo, Japan. He has been a member of Society of Plastics Engineers since 1991 as member and secretary of the Steering Committee of the Special Interest Group on Joining of Plastics and Composites (1991-2002) and currently serves on the Board of Directors for SPE Composites Division.

Dr. Gillespie’s contributions have been recognized through a number of honors and awards. He was a co-recipient of the U.S. Army’s Paul A. Siple Memorial Award, announced at the 21st Army Science Conference in 1998, for his research on processing of multifunctional armor materials. His work on diffusion-enhanced adhesion for improved ballistics was cited in 1997 in the Department of Defense (DOD) booklet, Defense Basic Research-Rapid Transition from the Laboratory to the Field. The technology was one of only 17 examples of basic research recognized throughout the entire DOD. He was the first academic recipient of the prestigious Jud Hall Composites Manufacturing Award bestowed in 2000 by the Composites Manufacturing Association of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. His research team was selected in 2004 by the American Composites Manufacturing Association for the Best of Show Award recognizing projects that are superior to all others in manufacturing, design, process innovation and use of composite materials. In 2008, he was acknowledged as the Most Cited Author (2005-2008) by the International Journal of Solids and Structures. In 2009, he was selected by the American Society for Composites as the recipient of the Outstanding Research Award and acknowledged with the Department of Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Career Alumni Award. In 2012, he was selected as a fellow of the American Society for Composites. In 2013 he was recognized as the co-recipient of the American Society for Civil Engineers Charles Pankow Award for Innovation. He was also one of only six individuals elected to the 2013 Society of Manufacturing Engineers College of Fellows. In 2015, he was one of four elected as a Fellow of SAMPE. In 2016, he received the Wayne W. Stinchcomb Memorial Award from the American Society for Testing and Materials. At CAMx 2016, his UD-CCM team and industry (BMW, NCMS) and government partners (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration) was selected as a Finalist for Unsurpassed Innovation Category for their project on Carbon Fiber Thermoplastic B-Pillars. Dr. Gillespie has also received numerous best paper and best presentation awards over the years.

In 2018, he was elected as a Fellow of SME. In 2019, his research team was selected as the recipient of the CAMX Award for Composites Excellence (ACE) in the Infinite Possibility for Market Growth Category. In 2020, SAMPE selected his team as the recipient of the Delmonte Award for Innovation Excellence. Dr. Gillespie has also received numerous best paper and best presentation awards over the years.

Research Interests
Composite materials, mechanics and design, experimental mechanics, fracture mechanics, fabrication, infrastructure applications of composites

Ph.D., 1985, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Delaware
M.M.A.E., 1978, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Delaware
B.M.E., 1976, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Delaware


  1. 2020 SAMPE Delmonte Award for Innovation Excellence – SAMPE North America Awards Committee
  2. CAMX Award for Composite Excellence (ACE): Infinite Possibility for Market Growth Category
  3. Elected May 2018 as SPE Fellow
  4. CAMX Finalist for Unsurpassed Innovation Category: Carbon Thermoplastic B-Pillars.
  5. Wayne W. Stinchcomb Memorial Award for the American Society for Testing and Materials, September 2016
  6. SAMPE Fellow Award in recognition of your extensive history of research support, technology advancement, individual mentoring and support of the society, June 2015.
  7. Outstanding Paper Award 2nd Place SAMPE 2015, Baltimore, MD, May 18-21, 2015 Zhang, D., D. Heider, and J. W. Gillespie, Jr., “Role of Prepreg Interlayer Permeability on Void Reduction During Oven Vacuum Bag Processing of Thick Section Thermoplastic Composites.”
  8. Elected in 2013 to the SME College of Fellows.
  9. Selected as co-recipient of the American Society for Civil Engineers 2013 Charles Pankow Award for Innovation.
  10. Elected in 2012 as Fellow of the American Society for Composites.
  11. Best Paper Award, presented at the 25th Annual Technical Conference, hosted by the University of Dayton, Dayton, OH, September 21, 2010, for paper presented at the 24th Annual Technical Conference of the American Society for Composite and the Canadian Association for Composite Structures and Materials, University of Delaware, Sept. 15-17, 2009, with B. A. Gama, T. A. Bogetti, and J. W. Gillespie, Jr., “Impact, Damage and Penetration Modeling of Thick-Section Composites using LS-Dyna MAT 162.”
  12. 2009 ASC Outstanding Research Award; Quoting the Society guidelines: A nominee for the ASC Outstanding Research Award shall have made contributions to the science and technology of composite materials by way of analytical modeling, numerical modeling, design methodologies, and/or experimental work that have led to a greater understanding of the behavior of composite materials.
  13. Distinguished Career Alumni Award, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Delaware, May 1, 2009.
  14. 2008, Most Cited Author 2004 – 2008 Award, International Journal of Solids and Structures.
  15. Best Paper Award 1st Place SAMPE 2005 Symposium & Exhibition (50th ISSE), Long Beach, CA, May 1-5, 2005. with B. A. Gama, S. M. W. Islam, M. Rahman, T. A. Bogetti, B. A. Cheeseman, C-F. Yen, and C. P. R. Hoppel, “Punch Shear Behavior of Thick-Section Composites under Quasi-Static, Low Velocity, and Ballistic Impact Loading.”
  16. 2004 American Composites Manufacturing Association Best of Show Award recognizing projects that are superior to all others in manufacturing, design, process innovation and use of composite materials, November 2004
  17. Space Act Award, “Ceramic Composite Advanced Tow Placement (CCATP) Process: A Rapid Prototyping Technique for Continuous Fiber Reinforced Ceramic Matrix Composites, NASA Tech Briefs Magazine, September 2002
  18. Faculty Advisors Award, Society for the Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering, 2001
  19. J.H. “Jud” Hall Composites Manufacturing Award of the Composites Manufacturing Association, Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 2000 Award recognizing outstanding contributions to the advancement of composites manufacturing.
  20. ASCE Delaware Section Project of the Year Award: “Use of Glass-Fiber-Reinforced Composite Panels to Replace the Superstructure for Bridge 251 on N387A Over Muddy Run”, February 1999
  21. Paul A. Siple Memorial Award: “Co-Injection Resin Transfer Molding for Optimization of Integral Armor”, (with B.K. Fink and S.H. McKnight), 21st Army Science Conference, Science and Technology for Army After Next, Norfolk, VA, June 15-17, 1998 recognizes best basic research contributions in U.S. Army.
  22. “Defense Basic Research-Rapid Transitions from the Laboratory to the Field” recognized notable achievements by world-class scientists and engineers. Dr. Gillespie’s research on Diffusion Enhanced Adhesion was selected as one of only 17 examples throughout the entire Department of Defense, May 1997.


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