Development of Aerospace Engineering Undergraduate Curriculum

Grants and Contracts Details


The Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Kentucky is the largest engineering program in Kentucky serving over 1000 undergraduate degree-seeking students and over 100 graduate students. As the department’s research programs have evolved, a growing emphasis on aerospace applications has emerged as a strategic focus for future investment in both research and personnel. Two new faculty have been hired in the last three years specifically in aerospace research areas, and there are currently ten faculty with primary research interests in aerospace engineering. The department has offered a certificate in Aerospace Engineering for many years. At the same time, aerospace interest in the state of Kentucky has also increased both from industry and from prospective students. Currently since no undergraduate Aerospace Engineering degree program exists in the state, students may elect to attend another SEC school any pay in-state tuition. This common market program results in about 40 students/year that leave Kentucky for Aerospace Engineering programs. With this intersection of demand from students and employers and the capacity for aerospace expertise and research, the Department of Mechanical Engineering is seeking to develop a full ABET-accredited Bachelors of Science degree program in Aerospace Engineering. The intended schedule for this development includes building the curriculum plan during the 2019-20 Academic Year and submitting approvals for this plan through both the University and the state Council on Postsecondary Education. Following approval the program could begin offerings to students as early as Fall 2021. We anticipate the need to hire 3-4 faculty to complement the existing Aerospace expertise in the department and fill out missing areas from a full Aerospace B.S. curriculum. The Department is already searching for one of these positions during the current Academic Year so that the program can launch quickly after approval. This Enhanced Mini-Grant (EMG) proposal requests support for faculty time to enable several half day retreats for focused development of our starting curriculum. Profs. Michael Renfro (Chair of ME), Michael Seigler (Chair of AE Curriculum Committee), Sean Bailey, Jesse Hoagg, and Christoph Brehm will be supported for 2% of their Academic Year time, equivalent to approximately 5 days, to dedicate to the rapid development of the curriculum during the Fall 2019 semester. Profs. Renfro and Seigler will be supported for an additional 1% of their time and the department will commit 3.7% of their time in cost-share, approximately 12 days total, to dedicate to preparation of documentation and submission of approvals during the Spring semester. This proposal directly aligns with the NASA Education and Research Objective to advance STEM education and workforce pipelines by creating entirely new STEM educational opportunities within KY. Likewise, two of the five national NASA Space Grant Objectives include: • Encourage interdisciplinary training, research and public service programs related to aerospace. • Recruit and train U.S. citizens, especially women, underrepresented minorities, and persons with disabilities, for careers in aerospace science and technology. The new Aerospace Engineering program will be provide interdisciplinary training and research opportunities directly. Likewise, the program will recruit new undergraduate students into the College of Engineering where there is existing emphases in building a diverse student body with expanded access for under-represented student groups. Outcomes The proposed development activities will result in the following outcomes: October: Curriculum map including all required courses and potential overlaps with exiting ME program. Feedback from ME faculty on curriculum map November: Revised detailed curriculum plan including course descriptions for new AE course. Feedback from ME faculty on detailed course and curriculum plan December: Revised course descriptions and detailed syllabi for new AE courses. ME faculty approval on AE program February: Submission of new program request to college and university March: Submission of plan to KY CPE
Effective start/end date10/1/195/31/20


  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration


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