Revolutionizing aerospace engineering education by broadening aerospace applications

A26U1092 WebResearchers in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University have been awarded a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of a program supporting projects that are revolutionizing engineering education.

Aerospace engineering at Texas A&M, like most aerospace engineering departments, has a long tradition of producing graduates with a deep understanding of fundamental math and scientific principles and how to use these principles to solve problems in traditional aerospace applications. Graduates from the department have produced many meaningful aerospace contributions, such as developing the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and managing the International Space Station.

Other aerospace graduates have found, somewhat unintentionally, that their aerospace foundation has prepared them to make lasting impacts in other fields, such as health care and energy. Researchers at Texas A&M now aim to instill knowledge of these opportunities in all aerospace engineering graduates. 

The NSF-sponsored Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) program at Texas A&M aims to revolutionize the aerospace engineering educational experience by demonstrating how aerospace skills can be used to solve important problems in other domains, such as energy systems, aerospace medicine, the environment, health care and others yet to be determined. The program goal is to change the culture of instruction and learning in a way that imparts students with knowledge, skills and confidence to look beyond traditional boundaries. Doing so will lead to a new aerospace engineering educational experience that will appeal to a more diverse student population and will strengthen the impact of Texas A&M graduates in both traditional and nontraditional fields. A diverse base of highly talented students and preparing them for the 21st century workforce is a national priority that affects U.S. innovation and competitiveness.

The RED program, now in its third year, includes only 19 engineering and computer science departments across the nation. The aerospace engineering department at Texas A&M is the only aerospace engineering department in the elite group.

Principal investigators for the project include Dr. Rodney Bowersox, Dr. Kristi Shryock and Dr. Edward White (aerospace engineering); Dr. Jeffrey Froyd (engineering academic and student affairs); and Dr. Isaac Sabat (psychology). The Texas A&M College of Engineering has ambitious goals for improving diversity, and this project will also support that aim by enacting bold, purposeful initiatives to improve inclusion at all levels.