• Ph.D., Duke University, 1979
  • M.S., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1975
  • B.S., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1971


Dr. Johnson has more than thirty years of experience studying failure mechanisms in a wide range of material systems for aeronautical, space, and naval applications. He has pioneered several life predictive methodologies for metallic, bonded structures and metal matrix composites. From 1979 until he joined Georgia Tech in June 1994, Dr. Johnson was employed at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Langley Research Center as a Senior Scientist. He led several research teams during that period. In his last four years at NASA, he led the Material Durability Program for the High-Speed Civil Transport and served as principal investigator for developing life-prediction methodologies to be employed on the National AeroSpace Plane. These programs were charged with developing life-predictive methodologies and assessing the long-term durability of materials to be used on these very advanced aircraft. Since 1997 he has been the Director of the Georgia Tech Composites Education and Research Center.


Dr. Johnson's research is directed toward studying the durability of many advanced material systems used in extreme environments. His sponsors include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Lockheed-Martin Corporation, the National Science Foundation, the U. S. Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the Office of Naval Research. His research deals with both metal and polymer matrix composite materials, aluminums, titaniums, hybrid titanium composite laminates, and both bonded and bolted joints. Much of the research deals with high-temperature testing and advanced damage modeling, which includes fatigue and fracture analysis that incorporates induced thermal stresses, thermo-viscoplasticity, oxidation and general material degradation with time. Much of this research is in support of high-profile national programs such as the F-22 stealth fighter and the futuristic High-Speed Civil Transport.

  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers Fellow, 2004
  • National Institute of Aerospace Fellow, 2004
  • American Society of Materials International Fellow, 2002
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration Aerospace Technology Advanced Space Transportation Subcommittee, 2002-present
  • Georgia Institute of Technology Composites Education and Research Center Director, 1997-present
  • American Society for Testing and Materials Fellow, 1997
  • Journal of Composites Technology and Research  Editor-in Chief, 1990-2001

Representative Publications

  • J. Kang and W. S. Johnson. 2005. The Effect of Cold-Working of Holes on Pre-existing Cracks: A 3-D Finite Element Analysis. AIAA Journal of Aircraft 42(2).
  • B. C. Findley and W. S. Johnson. 2005. Benefits of Surface Coatings for Impacted Composites to be Used for Cryogenic Tankage. AIAA Journal of Spacecrafts and Missiles 42(3).
  • J. Zeng, et al. 2004. Processing and Properties of Poly(methyl methacrylate)/Carbon Nano Fiber Composites. Composites (Part B) 35, 173-178.
  • S. H. Highsmith, Jr. and W. S. Johnson. 2004. Probabilistic Aspects of Crack Growth in a Directionally Solidified Nickel-Base Superalloy. In Probabilistic Aspects of Life Prediction ASTM STP 1450. W. S. Johnson and B. M. Hillberry (eds.).
  • O. Jin and W. S. Johnson. 2004. Physical Properties and Life Predictions of TMC at Elevated Temperatures. Composites Part A 35, 113-120.