WSU names engineering building that uses state-of-the-art testing after Sen. Jerry Moran

Alice Mannette
The Hutchinson News
Jerry Moran speaks on April 8, 2021 at Wichita State University’s Advanced Center for Virtual Engineering and Testing, which is named after him.

WICHITA — On Thursday, Wichita State University’s Advanced Center for Virtual Engineering and Testing became the Jerry Moran Center for Advanced Virtual Engineering and Testing. 

WSU decided to name the 20,000-square-foot facility on WSU’s Innovation Campus after the Senator in honor of his work in bringing technology businesses and leaders to Kansas and helping introduce Wichita and the college to a global community.

"He is a master dot connector," said John Tomblin, WSU Senior Vice President for Industry and Defense Programs, about Moran. "At a meeting, he'll fade into the background and let Kansas speak for itself."

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Marcus Pyles, a research engineer at the Jerry Moran Center for Advanced Virtual Engineering and Testing at WSU, works in the crash test laboratory, helping industry and the government with safety protocol.

Tomblin, who called Moran a tireless advocate, said the building’s renaming is a tribute to Sen. Jerry Moran’s commitment to providing vital resources and connections for both the university and the state.

The Jerry Moran Center houses crash dynamics, virtual engineering and flight test labs, which are part of the National Institute for Aviation Research at the school. The Center uses cutting-edge virtual and physical crash dynamics testing capabilities for the aviation and greater transportation industries and provides students with applied learning experiences in an industry-based setting.

"We do all kinds of tests on a daily basis," said Marcus Pyles, a research engineer at the Center. "We perform proprietary testing, drone strike testing and fuselage drops."

Jonathan Conklin makes sure the rib cages on the WSU crash test dummies are ready for testing.

The dummies used in the tests are continually evaluated by state-of-the-art methods. Each body part must run through a gamut of rigorous exams to make sure they perform as if they were human. Dummies come in all sizes, including children. By using both dummies and software, lives are saved.

Recently, the school collaborated with Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Engineering Directorate in the virtual development and evaluation of various seating concepts to ensure the safety of passengers being transported in Negatively Pressurized Conex modules designed to be carried by USAF cargo aircraft. The NPC system enables the safe transport of individuals infected with the COVID-19 virus and other highly infectious diseases.

A crash test dummy waits to be tested at the The Jerry Moran Center for Advanced Virtual Engineering and Testing at Wichita State University.

Through the dedication of the Jerry Moran Center for Advanced Virtual Engineering and Testing, Wichita State recognizes Sen. Moran’s focus on Kansans and his commitment to future learning and research.

Moran said it is not a politician who changes Kansas, but the people. 

"We cannot rest on our laurels," he said. "We have the opportunity to do more."

The Jerry Moran Center for Advanced Virtual Engineering and Testing at Wichita State University.