John Matsumura

Photo of John Matsumura
Senior Engineer
Pittsburgh Office


Ph.D. in engineering and public policy, Carnegie Mellon University; M.S. in engineering mechanics, Pennsylvania State University; B.S. in aerospace engineering, Pennsylvania State University

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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John Matsumura is a senior engineer at the RAND Corporation with more than 25 years of experience leading research on advanced technologies and new concepts of operation. At RAND, Matsumura has served in various research management positions, including director of the Joint Warfare Simulation and Analysis Center, associate director for research for RAND's Pittsburgh Office, and the associate director for force development and technology for the Army's FFRDC, the Arroyo Center. His current research addresses force protection capabilities, autonomous robotic systems, renewable energy technologies, and advanced modeling and simulation (M&S) methods. He has taught short courses on M&S in support of technology and policy decisions, coauthored several U.S. Department of Defense and Army reports, written numerous RAND monographs focusing on technology's impact on the status quo, and authored a book on advanced technologies' potential to make U.S. combat forces less vulnerable and more capable. Matsumura has served on federal advisory boards, including the Defense Science Board task force on power projection, the Office of the Secretary of Defense task force on defense architecture, and the Army Science Board (two consecutive terms), where he chaired many panels and studies. For this service, Matsumura received the Commander's award for outstanding civilian service in 2011. In 2014, he was invited to rejoin the Army Science Board, which he did in 2015. Matsumura is also adjunct faculty in the School of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), where he teaches part time. He received his Ph.D. in engineering and public policy from CMU.

Recent Projects

  • Assessing the manpower implications of autonomous robotic systems to Army force structure
  • Exploring renewable energy technologies for achieving net zero requirement
  • Assessing capabilities for anti-access and area-denial environments
  • Exploring the role of advanced technologies and new operational concepts to improve military capabilities and national security

Selected Publications

James Anderson and John Matsumura "Civilian Developments in Autonomous Vehicle Technology and Their Civilian and Military Policy Implications," in Andrew Williams and Paul Scharre, Autonomous Systems: Issues for Defence Policymakers, NATO, 2015

Endy Daehner, John Matsumura, Thomas Herbert, Jeremy Kurz, Keith Walters, Integrating Operational Energy Implications into System-Level Combat Effects Modeling, RAND Corporation (RR-879-OSD), 2015

John Matsumura and Randall Steeb, "Unmanned but Not Untethered: Robots on the Future Battlefield," RAND Review, 2006

John Matsumura et al, Survivability Options for Maneuver and Transport Aircraft: Analytic Support to the Army Science Board, RAND Corporation (MG-123-A), 2004

John Matsumura et al., Exploring Advanced Technologies for the Future Combat Systems Program, RAND Corporation (MR-1332-A), 2002

John Matsumura et al., Lightning over Water: Sharpening America's Light Forces for Rapid Reaction Missions, RAND Corporation (RR-1196/1-A/OSD), 2001

Honors & Awards

  • Commander's Award, Assistant Sec of Army (Acquisition, Logistics, Technology)
  • Army Highlight Award *(twice), Deputy Undersecretary of the Army (Operations Research)

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: Carnegie Science Center; Inside the Army/Pentagon; L'Expresso; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Popular Science


  • A autonomous vehicle maneuvers over concrete blocks during a demonstration.

    War Robots Will Lessen Killing—Not Increase It

    Could armed autonomous robots embark on a campaign of indiscriminate killing? John Matsumura says that there is a convincing base of evidence that robots are more likely to prevent slaughter than engage in it.

    Oct 18, 2013 Christian Science Monitor