The University of Kentucky College of Engineering has been approved by the Council for Postsecondary Education to offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace engineering. The new undergraduate aerospace program will be the first of its kind in Kentucky.
“We are gratified to be the only academic institution in the state to offer a degree in aerospace engineering at the undergraduate level,” said Rudy Buchheit, Dr. Rebecca Burchett Liebert Dean of the College of Engineering. “Both programs enable us to take full advantage of the remarkable expertise represented within our faculty.”
Aerospace plays a significant role in Kentucky’s economy. Kentucky’s aerospace exports are the top export in the state and number three in the United States, behind only California and Washington. According to the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Kentucky exported more than $14.6 billion in aerospace products and parts in 2019. Kentucky is home to 79 aerospace-related facilities that employ over 19,000 people, including General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Belcan Corp., Raytheon, General Dynamics Group, and Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. The aerospace program will support Kentucky’s aerospace industry and promote economic development by training proficient aerospace engineers.
“There is clear need for new graduates trained in aerospace engineering to meet industry demand in Kentucky and we have already a significant number of faculty with cutting-edge research and expertise in a broad range of aerospace applications including controls, propulsion and hypersonics. These new Aerospace programs are a natural fit for the University of Kentucky,” said Michael Renfro, Tennessee Valley Authority Professor and Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department.
The aerospace engineering programs will be housed in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and will foster research and innovation by enhancing collaborations between UK and the local aerospace industry. Numerous UK College of Engineering faculty spanning several departments already conduct aerospace-related research. Further, current UK faculty members who will support the aerospace programs have degrees from, or have previously held appointments at prestigious universities and conducted collaborative research projects with NASA, Air Force Research Laboratory, The Aerospace Corporation, McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. (now Boeing), Harris Corporation’s Government Aerospace Systems Division and Pratt & Whitney.
“Graduates of the new programs will join and can be inspired by UK Engineering alums who have contributed to and led groundbreaking achievements since the early days of aeronautics and space. From systems testing at NASA for Apollo to bringing the new and growing commercial space economy to Kentucky, UK alums are enabling future space exploration, advanced propulsion, aerial mobility and so much more,” said Suzanne Smith, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and founding director of the NASA Kentucky programs at UK.
The MS and Ph.D. programs are available for enrollment now, and the first Aerospace Engineering graduate students are already starting in the program. The undergraduate BS program is currently recruiting for freshmen and sophomores to begin in the fall 2022 semester. To learn more about the new programs, visit the Aerospace Engineering website.