Skip To Main Content

The incoming Dean of the College of Engineering at Texas A&M University said Wednesday that he supports creating a degree program in Space Engineering.

Dr. Robert H. Bishop, whose official start date is Tuesday, said he has heard the call for the new program from several faculty members who want to make Texas A&M a national leader in the rapidly growing field of space engineering.

“I am thrilled to announce that one of my first orders of business is to help make Texas A&M a world leader in Space Engineering,” Bishop said. “Degrees in Space Engineering will give students at Texas A&M the skills they need to be pioneers in the space industry as they learn to establish exciting new systems for space exploration and research.”

Support for the new program comes from people beyond College Station. At an event with NASA officials and space industry leaders at Johnson Space Center on Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott urged Texas universities to consider establishing degree offerings in Space Engineering to help Americans get to the moon and Mars in the coming years.

Bishop said he appreciated the support of Abbott and state leaders – such as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, Rep. Greg Bonnen and Sen. Joan Huffman.

Degrees in Space Engineering will give students at Texas A&M the skills they need to be pioneers in the space industry as they learn to establish exciting new systems for space exploration and research.

Dr. Robert H. Bishop

Widespread support for the program will help Texas A&M attract students from all over the U.S., Bishop said. Plus, it would give NASA and the growing number of private space companies a place to find the talent they need to build on the moon and Mars. (Aerospace Engineering and Space Engineering are related, but different, disciplines. Basically, aerospace engineers get people to the moon and Mars, and space engineers build structures and operations there.)

The College of Engineering at Texas A&M already has a strong foundation for new degrees in Space Engineering. The college has developed the Human Systems Integration and Bioastronautics graduate certificate program. It will be offered starting in Fall 2024. It entails preparing professionals in engineering, human physiology and medicine to address the growing challenges of both civil and commercial human spaceflight. The program within the Department of Aerospace Engineering was developed based on demand from NASA and private space companies.

The College of Engineering at Texas A&M is one of the country's top higher education institutions for space-related research and the ideal place for recruiting the highly skilled people to make sure the United States leads the race to the moon and Mars.

Texas A&M, which has been a Space Grant university since 1989, has four former astronauts on faculty and has been conducting space-related research for years. The work of Texas A&M faculty and students includes: creating better space suits; developing robots for the lunar surface; researching micro-gravity manufacturing; exploring the effects of weightlessness on astronauts; figuring out how to build habitats for sustainable life in space, and more.

Further, Dr. Nancy Currie-Gregg and Dr. Rob Ambrose of the College of Engineering have been named director and deputy director of the Texas A&M Space Institute. The vision for the institute involves expanding Texas’s role as the leader in the new space economy. It would leverage Texas A&M’s existing expertise and resources to make new discoveries, technological developments, health advances and workforce growth.

In addition to the institute, Texas A&M is planning to build a $200 million facility, which was funded by the Texas Legislature last year, on land near the Johnson Space Center. It will include two massive areas designed to simulate the lunar landscape and the terrain of Mars, and they will be available to Texas A&M researchers, as well as private companies that are looking to test prototypes and new equipment designed to travel across the surfaces of the moon and Mars.

The new degree program will require approval from the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board in addition to authorization from various entities within Texas A&M. After all necessary hurdles have been cleared, the degree programs could be available as soon as Fall 2025.