Mark S. Whorton, Ph.D.

BSAE ’87, MSAE ‘89

His work for the public and private sector as well as in academia has made Mark S. Whorton a well-rounded aerospace engineer by giving him experience as a senior executive and as a technical subject matter expert.

Whorton earned two aerospace engineering degrees at The University of Alabama, a bachelor’s degree with honors in 1987 and a master’s degree with emphasis in flight dynamics in 1989. While at Alabama, Whorton was an undergraduate cooperative education student in the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command and was a graduate research assistant on mathematical modeling and flight simulator development for helicopter and spacecraft.

He later went on to earn his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering flight mechanics and controls in 1997 from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. His dissertation was on multi-objective optimization based robust control theory for flexible space structures.

The Centre, Alabama, native began his career at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, working in flight system and advanced technology development for microgravity vibration isolation systems. During his time at Marshall, he worked in guidance, navigation and control as lead for solar sail propulsion systems and as panel chair for the ascent flight systems integration group. Whorton eventually became the branch chief EV42 in the guidance, navigation and mission analysis branch.

While working at Marshall, he spent two years as an an adjunct professor at the Tennessee State University Center of Excellence in Information Systems.

Then in 2009, Whorton began working at Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville where he was director of systems development and operations support, director of commercial earth imaging and chief technologist. He then spent the last year of his tenure with the company as the president of Teledyne Optech in Kiln, Mississippi, and Rochester, New York.

Whorton is now the executive director of the University of Tennessee Space Institute in Tullahoma, Tennessee, providing leadership and direction in engineering education and research.

He currently serves on the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics board of directors and is the AIAA Director for Region II. From 2013 to 2016, he served on the Capstone Engineering Society board of directors.

Whorton is an AIAA Fellow, a 2003 UA Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Distinguished Fellow, a 2001 NASA Administrator’s Fellow, a 1987 UA Outstanding Senior Engineering Student and a UA Presidential Scholar. He has been published in eight refereed journals and written more than 50 conference papers.

Whorton has authored two books on the topics of science and creation, and he teaches Sunday school at Willowbrook Baptist Church. His hobbies include kayaking, photography and reading. Whorton lives in Big Cove, Alabama, with his wife, Lee. They have three children, Rachel, Anna and Katelyn.