Skip to main content


Lifetime Achiever

University of Dayton Vice President for Research John Leland will receive the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Dayton section's Lifetime Achievement Award for his distinguished career and contributions to the mechanical engineering profession. He will receive the award May 22 at the joint American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics/ASME awards banquet.

"I am humbled and honored by this award," said Leland, who was named an ASME Fellow in 2002. "I appreciate the recognition of my peers. But like many of us, my desire when becoming a mechanical engineer was to solve problems that would positively impact humanity."

Leland started at the University of Dayton in 2001 as director of intellectual property. He became director of the Research Institute in 2005 and elevated to the University's interim vice president for research in 2014 and vice president for research in 2015.

Since 2014, Leland has overseen three straight years of record sponsored research at the University — $98.6 million in fiscal year 2015, $117.6 million in fiscal year 2016 and $135 million in fiscal year 2017.

During that time, the University reclaimed the top spot for federally sponsored materials engineering research among all colleges and universities nationally. The University also climbed to 10th from 17th in federally sponsored engineering research and to 23rd from 30th in all sponsored engineering research.

In Ohio, UD ranks No. 1 among all colleges and universities for all sponsored materials engineering research and development, federally sponsored engineering research and development, and Department of Defense research and development.

Among the nation's Catholic universities, UD is first in all sponsored engineering research and development and all sponsored materials engineering research and development.

UD ranks eighth in total research expenditures among private four-year U.S. universities that do not perform medical research.

Leland was instrumental in securing the University's participation in Ohio's Third Frontier Project, which resulted in more than $50 million in awards to the University and recognition by the state for the University's technology-based economic development contributions. He also helped initiate the campaign to bring the GE Aviation EPISCenter to campus and was instrumental in securing the largest single financial incentive, $7.6 million, that was the foundation of an attraction package that made the center possible on the University of Dayton campus.

Within UDRI, Leland worked to enhance collaboration and networking among researchers and created a rewards program to recognize employees who made outstanding contributions to the organization.

Leland is a two-time appointee by Ohio Gov. John Kasich to the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee. The 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base named Leland an honorary commander for a two-year stint starting in 2014 to foster an exchange of ideas between the base and its civilian neighbors in the Miami Valley.

Before coming to the University of Dayton, Leland served for 16 years as a researcher for the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, where he conducted his own independent research and led a research group in the propulsion directorate. He holds eight patents, and he's been an author or co-author of more than 60 technical publications.

He previously served as an ASME/American Association for the Advancement of Science congressional science fellow in the office of former U.S. Rep. Tony Hall, where he frequently contributed to policy debates on the importance of engineering education and research funding and led the drafting of a workforce reform law that became law. Since joining the Research Institute, Leland has written and given similar testimony before both chambers of Congress.

The University of Dayton Research Institute employs approximately 550 full-time and part-time, benefits-eligible professional researchers, technicians and administrative staff. Nearly 100 faculty and 300 students also engage in sponsored research. 


News and Communications Staff