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James E. (Jim) Thompson Professor

Jim Thompson is a professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. He served as dean of the University of Missouri College of Engineering from 1994 to 2014. Prior to that, he was the dean of engineering for the University of New Mexico. Thompson is a registered professional engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and past president of the IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society.

Thompson was elected honorary doctor of the Institute for Electrophysics in Russia in 1992 for his outstanding achievements in the areas of discharges in vacuum and high-power pulsed technology.

His areas of technical specialization include high voltage, electro-optics, electrical breakdown phenomena in gases, liquids, solids and vacuum, pulsed power systems and devices, lasers, fast electrical and optical diagnostics, high power switches and dielectric materials. He is the author of numerous chapters in technical books and is the author of more than 100 technical journal and presentation articles. He has served as session chairman and organizer associated with numerous technical meetings and panels.

Thompson has initiated and grown university-based engineering research programs, which are now having national impact. He also has led the creation and growth of university education programs that have increased engineering student enrollment and graduation rates and have improved classroom success and learning. While dean at MU and UNM, faculty research activity and funding were substantially increased, and new research programs initiated. Additionally, new academic engineering programs were initiated, and student enrollment and graduation rates increased at both MU and UNM.

Technical Focus

  • Electro-optics and lasers
  • Electrical breakdown phenomena in gases, liquids, solids, and vacuum
  • High voltage, high current, pulsed power systems and devices


  • PhD, MS and BS in Electrical Engineering from Texas Tech University