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Thornton, Earl A. (Earl Arthur), 1936-



  • Existence: 1936-

Biographical Note

Earl Arthur Thornton was born to Dora Weatherly Thornton and John S. Thornton in 1936. He has a brother, John S. Thornton, Jr. and a sister Elizabeth Thornton Gardner. He is married to Margaret Thornton and resides in Virginia.

Earl A. Thornton graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1959. Thornton went on to the University of Illinois to complete his Master's degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics before returning to Virginia Tech for a doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering. Thornton graduated from Virginia Tech in 1968 and joined the professoriate. Thornton served at Old Dominion University (1969-1986), was a visiting scholar at the University of Texas (1987-88), and worked at the University of Virginia (1989-1999) until his retirement on May 24, 1999. Afterwards, he return to Virginia Tech as a visiting professor in the Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics in 2000.

Thornton authored books on thermal structures and the finite element method and is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets. Thornton is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

External Sources:

"RESOLUTIONS ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF VISITORS, March 26-27, 1999", University of Virginia Board of Visitors,, on The Internet Archive,, accessed June 21, 2023

"DORA WEATHERLY THORNTON HANNAH", Tyrrell Tides, Vol. 10, No. 2, Feb. 2004,, the Internet Archive at, accessed June 21, 2023

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Earl A. Thornton Papers

Identifier: Ms-2010-026

The collection includes research files, personal notes, audio recordings, videocassettes, photographs, and publications collected by engineer and professor Earl A. Thornton on the fields of aviation, aeronautics, and aerospace.

Dates: 1885 - 2000