Interim Executive Director

Dr. James Simonton

Dr. Simonton is the Interim Executive Director/Associate Executive Director for Academics at UTSI and an Associate Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Tennessee. His current job duties include program academic coordination as well as the Director of Online Education at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. His research interests include project management, systems engineering, operational research, engineering economics, statistical analysis, logistics, lean six-sigma, and quality. His research continues to be involved in alternative energy research in the areas of electrical generation, biomass gas to liquids, and utilization of stranded or flared natural gases. Resulting from his work in biomass and natural gas to liquid, he has several patents in alternative energy-related areas.




Senior Director for Space and Defense Programs

Chris M. Crumbly

Chris Crumbly is the Senior Director for Space and Defense Programs at the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI), an internationally recognized graduate education and research institution located in Middle Tennessee adjacent to the U.S. Airforce Arnold Engineering Development Center. Prior to accepting the UTSI appointment he served as Executive Director of the technical nonprofit Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation (VCSI). After a 25-year career at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Mr. Crumbly retired and entered the business community as the Vice President for Business Development, Civil and Commercial Space at Teledyne Brown Engineering.

While at NASA, Mr. Crumbly managed the Space Launch System (SLS) Program’s Spacecraft/Payload Integration and Evolution Office, located at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. He was responsible for managing the development of spacecraft and payload interfaces for SLS and technical innovations that will increase the performance and decrease the cost of America’s next-generation heavy-lift rocket for human and scientific exploration beyond Earth’s orbit. In addition to serving in management positions at Marshall, he also served as Special Assistant to NASA’s Deputy Administrator and Senior Space Policy Analyst at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

A native of Rome, Ga., Mr. Crumbly holds both bachelor and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering from Auburn University and is a graduate of the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School. He speaks on the space program frequently with audiences ranging from TEDx to school groups and professional societies. Mr. Crumbly serves on several professional and civic boards including the Huntsville Space Club, the American Astronautical Society, and the Greater Huntsville Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) where he serves as the Region II Deputy Director for Public Policy. He is an Associate Fellow of AIAA.