John “Jack” Lesko
Dr. Lesko provides guidance and leadership to the College’s programs in graduate research and education. His office provides support to faculty in developing research efforts by helping them to identify possible funding agencies, by coordinating faculty groups for multidisciplinary research proposals, by negotiating cost sharing for proposals when necessary, and by coordinating negotiations for research contracts between the college and outside agencies and industries. He oversees budgetary review of internal funding programs such as the SCHEV Equipment Trust Fund, graduate teaching assistantships, and other college granted fellowships. For the graduate program, his responsibilities include college level recruiting and retention of a strong a diverse graduate population, recommendations for new graduate degree programs, coordinating approval of new graduate courses and recommending approval for issues affecting individual graduate students.
Dr. Lesko also serves on the Boards of Directors for the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing and the National GEM Consortium.
Lesko holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park, a Master of Science degree and a Ph.D. in engineering mechanics from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Prior to his current appointment, Lesko was professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics at Virginia Tech beginning in 1995. During his appoint as professor Lesko also served in the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) as an Administrative Faculty Fellow and later as the Special Assistant to the OVPR on Energy Initiatives. He is a NSF CAREER award winner and has been honored for his teaching with a COE Certificate of Teaching Excellence, and received the COE Dean’s Award for Service.
Lesko's research is primarily focused on the mechanics of composite material systems. He and his advisees investigated the interdisciplinary aspects of durability and damage mechanics for polymeric and composite material systems. His work has resulted in the implementation of in-service structures/systems using new multifunctional composite technologies and the creation of reliability-based standards for their design in industrial and international codes. Currently, Lesko is exploring distributed and utility interoperable power transfer systems for the evolving smart grid, including the policy and economic aspects of future deployments.
Lesko's technical teaching interests are in structural mechanics, polymer physics, structural and interdisciplinary design. Through his startup experience with PowerHub, Jack has initiated problem-based learning pilot programs engaging in engineering education and entrepreneurial training. Jack currently assists in the leadership of the Mid Atlantic NSF I-Corps Regional Node, which brings together Virginia Tech, University of Maryland, and George Washington University to deliver Lean LauchPad training. Lesko assists in leading as a National I-Corps Instructor delivering a seven week Customer Development and Product Market fit training program that prepare scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory and broadens the impact of federally funded research.
Prior to beginning his university career, he spent two years with the US Navy’s David Taylor Research Center (now NSWC-Carderock Division) as a structural engineer for surface ship design and integrity. Lesko also currently consults and is co-founder of a small business in Blacksburg developing first generation distributed bidirectional power systems and storage for the future smart grid.