Wright Brothers Institute names former AFRL executive as Interim Director

10.02.20 05:07 PM By Jennie Hempstead

Dayton, February 10, 2020:  Wright Brothers Institute (WBI) has named Wendell Banks, a former Senior Executive with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), as Interim Director, effective immediately.

Mr. Banks’ career spanned nearly 40 years in Air Force and Air Force-related positions, culminating in his appointment as Director of AFRL’s Sensors Directorate. As Sensors Director, he oversaw an annual budget of $850 million and managed approximately 1,300 scientists, engineers and support personnel.

Mr. Banks’ experience positions him perfectly to lead WBI in its mission to support the Air Force with innovation, collaboration and commercialization services. As a former engineer and senior leader, he is intimately familiar with the Air Force need to quickly move innovative and cutting-edge technology to the men and women in uniform. The Air Force Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) office, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC), and the Air Force Special Operations Command (SOCOM) are some of the organizations leveraging WBI’s expertise in innovation and commercialization practices. 

“WBI is a critical partner for the Air Force, at a time when the national defense strategy is driving significant change in the way we develop and transition technology,” Mr. Banks said. “I am honored to have this opportunity to support the WBI team.”

Mr. Banks’ appointment comes one month after the unexpected passing of then-WBI Director Dr. David Walker. Before Mr. Banks’ appointment, former Associate Director Rob Klees filled the role. Mr. Banks will remain Interim Director until a permanent replacement is identified.