Dr. John Tester

Dr. Ciocanel

Dr. John T. Tester, Associate Professor; Dr. Tester has held various positions in both commercial and military sectors as a mechanical engineer, a manufacturing processes engineer, and a systems engineer. His experience and education guide his research and teaching efforts in the areas of both design and manufacturing processes, with the intent of improving the connection between the two. His research interests include design for manufacturing, rapid prototyping, injection molding, electronic assembly, and CAD/CAM applications.  Recently, he has been integrating CAD/CAM tools into biological modeling investigations.

He was assigned to a sabbatical research position at the National Renewable Research Laboratory’s ReFUEL (Renewable Fuels and Lubricants) Facility from 8/09 to 4/10 in Denver, CO.

Educational background 

  • PhD, Industrial & Systems Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, December 1999
  • MS, Systems Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology, December 1990
  • BS, Mechanical Engineering, Tennessee Technological University, December 1984

Employment history         

  • Northern Arizona University - Department of Mechanical Engineering, 8/00-present. Associate Professor:  Areas of research include design for manufacturing (traditional and electronic), rapid prototyping, general manufacturing processes, injection molding, and CAD/CAM applications. 
  • (2007-2009) Director of the “Design4Practice” Engineering Undergraduate Design Curriculum. Developing and managing the shared design courses for all CENS departments, particularly those in Engineering, Biology, and the School of Business.
  • Established and manages the Realization of Advanced Products In Design Laboratory (RAPIDLab). Funded, installed and manages prototyping equipment and related CAD/CAM/CAE software.
  • Supervising staff and student personnel who work in the Engineering Manufacturing Processes Laboratory and Engineering Shop (a separate facility from the RAPIDLab).
  • Adviser to the SAE student branch (2000 to present
  • Student competitions advised:  AeroDesign, SAE Baja, Supermileage, Shell Ecomarathon, AIAA/Air Force UAV.
  • Adviser (2000-2002 & 2006-2009) to the ASME student chapter.
  • Student competitions advised:  Human Powered Vehicle
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Industrial & Systems Engineering. 8/99-6/00.
  • Visiting Professor: Taught classes in Industrial Automation, Aerospace Manufacturing, Manufacturing Processes, and Deterministic Operations Research. Created CAD/CAM models in support of 3-axis CNC projects for the Aerospace Engineering department as well as for related manufacturing classes. Guest lecturer for "Plastic Product Design" topics in the Rapid Prototyping Mechanical Engineering course.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Industrial & Systems Engineering. 8/95-8/99.
  • Graduate Research Assistant/Instructor: Supported the Systems Engineering Development Laboratory research projects. Conducted electronic assembly manufacturing research. Taught Industrial Automation course.
  • Amtech Systems Corporation (now Intermec, Inc.), 8/92-7/95 and summer 97.
  • Mechanical Engineer:· Primary areas of expertise included CAD, injection molding, finite element analysis (FEA), electronic assembly and test analysis. · Designed packaging and enclosures for new radio identification (RFID) systems. Managed transition-to-production of the newly developed products. Designed, analyzed, scheduled and tested manufacturing tooling for these products. Returned for summer of 1997 as contracted Manufacturing Engineer to resolve ongoing MRP conflicts associated with the introduction of new products.
  • United States Air Force, Various locations, 1/84-7/92,
  • Captain (rank), Development Engineer.
  • Hill Air Force Base (AFB), Utah. Conducted projects to improve the manufacturing capabilities of the aircraft refurbishment center. Projects included the redesign of F-16 parts for injection molding manufacturing, improving the aircraft composites repair facility capabilities, and upgrading the injection molding facility with new machines and personnel training.
  • Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Selected to the Systems Engineering Graduate Program; conducted research in multi-disciplinary modeling and simulation.
  • Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. Managed the logistical testing of space satellite and ground support systems. Conducted test programs primarily for evaluating the reliability and maintainability of the Global Positioning System (GPS) deployment, Falcon Air Force Base certification, and Space Defense Initiative (SDI) subprograms.

Courses usually taught     

  • Mechanical Design
  • General Engineering Design
  • Manufacturing & CAD/CAM

Honors, awards, and professional activities  

  • Society of Automotive Engineering (SAE) International Faculty Adviser of the Year, 2009.
  • University Educator of the Year, 2007, American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) Pacific Southwest Division.
  • Boeing Welliver Faculty Summer Fellow, Summer 2005
  • NASA/ASEE Summer Faculty Fellow, Summer 2004
  • VPI&SU, Industrial and Systems Engineering Pratt Fellowship awards, 1995-1999
  • Peer reviewer for International Journal of Flexible Automation and Integrated Manufacturing

Research interests

  • design for manufacturing (traditional and electronic)
  • rapid prototyping
  • plastic product manufacturing
  • general manufacturing processes
  • CAD/CAM applications


  • Tester, J., Awbry, D.; “Modeling a multi-dimensional simulation platform,” (Invited presentation) MSC.Software 2009 Virtual Product Development Conference, Phoenix, AZ, April 21-22, 2009
  • Urban, Jillian; Tester, John; “Using two-dimensional edge detection to produce three-dimensional medical prototypes from MRI data,” 25th Southern Biomedical Engineering Conference 2009, Miami, Florida, May 15-17, 2009.
  • Denzine, G.; Hamann, J.; Marley, R.; Munoz, D.; Plumb, C.; Porter, D.; Tester, J.; Wang, E.; “Perception of teaching excellence by faculty and administrators in the Engineering Schools of the West”, Frontiers In Education (FIE), October 18-21, 2009, San Antonio, TX.
  • Tester, John T., “Management of a Large Team-Design and Robotics-Oriented Sophomore Design Class,” Proceedings, 38th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, October, 2008, Saratoga Springs, NY (accepted).
  • Tester, John T.; Wood, Perry G., “Assessing the Motivational Impact of Including Rapid Prototyping into a Freshman CAD Class,” Work in Progress, ASEE Pacific Southwest Conference, April, 2007, Flagstaff, AZ.
  • Tester, J., Hatfield, J., “Using an IR Network in a Robotic Competition Class,” 36th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, October 28 – 31, 2006, San Diego, CA.
  • Guo, Boyun; Holder, Donald W.; Tester, John T.; “Two-Phase Oxidizing Flow in a Volatile Removal Assembly Reactor under Microgravity Conditions,” American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Journal, 2005.
  • Tester, J., Haden, C., Hatfield, J., “Enhancement and Assessment of a Non-Traditional Engineering Design Course,” ASEE 2005 Annual Conference and Exposition, Portland, OR, Jun 12-15 2005.
  • Hatfield, J., Tester, J., “LEGO Plus,” ASEE 2005 Annual Conference and Exposition, Portland, OR, Jun 12-15 2005.
  • Tester, J., Hatfield, J., “The Design4Practice Sophomore Design Course: Adapting to a Changing Academic Environment,” ASEE 2005 Annual Conference and Exposition, Portland, OR, Jun 12-15 2005.
  • John T. Tester, David Scott, Jerry, Hatfield, Rand Decker, Fonda Swimmer; “Developing Recruitment and Retention Strategies Through “Design4Practice” Curriculum Enhancements,” 34th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Savannah, GA, Oct. 2004.
  • Hatfield, Jerry M.; Tester, John T., “Assessing individual performance within a team using peer evaluations,” Proceedings, ASEE 2004 Annual Conference and Exposition, Salt Lake City, UT, Jun 20-23 2004.
  • Tester, J., and Hargroder, T., “Reducing Distortion in simulated injection-molded wind turbine blades,” ASME Wind Energy Symposium Technical Papers AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, Reno, Nevada, Jan 5-8, 2004.
  • Tester, J., and Hargroder, T., “Reducing Warp in Injection-Molded Wind Turbine Blades through Simulation and Design of Experiments,” American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Windpower 2003 Conference, Austin, Texas, 2003.
  • Tester, J. T., “Adaptation of a Cutting Stock Pattern Generation Algorithm to the PCB Panel Design Problem,” Proceedings of the International Conference on Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing (FAIM’01), Ed: M. El-Baradie, T. Szecsi, W.G. Sullivan, M.M. Ahmad, Dublin, July 16- 18, 2001.
  • Tester, J. T., “Reducing electronic panel assembly time via panel design selection,” International Journal of Flexible Automation and Integrated Manufacturing, 7, Begell House, Inc., 1999, p. 47-66.
  • Mitchiner, R. J. and Tester, J. T., “Introducing Plastic Product Design into the Machine Design Curriculum,” 1998 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference, Session 2566 Mechanical Engineering, Seattle, WA, June 1998.
  • Tester, J. T., “The Need for Optimized Panel Design in the Electronic Assembly Process,” Seventh International Conference on Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing (FAIM), Portland, OR, USA, June 1998.
  • Tester, J. T., “Industrial Engineering Research and Automation in Electronic Product Manufacturing,” Sixth International Conference on Flexible Automation and Intelligent Manufacturing (FAIM), Middlesbrough, England, June 1997
  • Tester, J. T. and Robinson, D. G., “Multidisciplinary Design of a Space System,” IEEE International Conference on Systems Engineering, Fairborn, Ohio, August 1991.

Professional and technical publications

  • John T. Tester, “Observations and Comments from the Boeing Welliver Faculty Summer Fellowship at Mesa,” submitted to The Boeing Corporation, August 10, 2005.
  • Hahn, Randall L.; Harter, Nathan W.; Mastrangelo, Christina M.; Mobolurin, Ayodele O.; Onyebueke, Landon C.; Petrick, Irene J.; Stutts, Daniel S.; Tester, John T. “Boeing Welliver Faculty Summer Fellowship, Group Report,” submitted to The Boeing Corporation, August 10, 2005.
  • John T. Tester, “RACK DISTRIBUTION EFFECTS ON MPLM CENTER OF MASS—EXTENDED REPORT,” NASA Technical report to Marshall Space Flight Center, Flight Projects Directorate, Pressurized Carriers Group, August 22, 2004.
  • John T. Tester and Jon Holladay, “RACK DISTRIBUTION EFFECTS ON MPLM CENTER OF MASS,” Contribution to 2004 NASA/ASEE Summer Faculty Fellowship Program Final Report, Marshall Space Flight Center, Flight Projects Directorate, Pressurized Carriers Group, August 5, 2004.

Professional affiliations   

  • American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE)
  • Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineering