5. California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, California)
Caltech offers an undergraduate minor and boasts reputable graduate programs within its department of aerospace.
Coined GALCIT (Graduate Aerospace Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology), the department focuses on not only the fundamentals in mechanics but also research, advanced facilities and infrastructure, and direct collaboration with the aerospace industry and government labs.
Research at the institution takes place in its experimental facilities in fluids, solids, materials, biomechanics, propulsion and combustion — which, the school says, sets it apart from other aerospace programs.
Additionally, GALCIT has produced a number of notable alumni, including some of its own professors, the presidents of major corporations and astronauts.
4. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Did you know there’s an Aerospace Day?
Now you do, and the University of Michigan’s aerospace engineering program celebrates — twice a year.
In fact, it’s one of the program’s largest events, pulling in students from across the state. The goal is to get young people stoked about aerospace.
In addition to celebrating its field, the program also focuses on research. It started, most notably, with a wind tunnel being built in 1926.
From there, the university has tested airplane models for the Ford Motor Company; has performed wind-pressure and rain-penetration tests for the Celotex Corporation of Chicago; and has taken part in a number of confidential projects for the Army Air Corps.
To further emphasize the University of Michigan’s important role in the aerospace engineering industry, Michigan souvenirs, including the seal of its department, sit on the moon, placed there by the Apollo 15 crew.
3. Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
Purdue’s most public claim to fame in aersospace engineering is actually the accomplishment of one of their alumni. Neil Armstrong, a graduate of Purdue’s Aerospace program, was the first man on the moon.
However, perhaps the most impressive part of the aerospace engineering experience at Purdue is Zucrow Labs, a 24-acre facility representing the nation’s largest university propulsion facility. At Zucrow Labs, students study, first-hand, turbo machinery, combustion, atomization processes, and much more.
Purdue’s program is widely lauded: both US News as well as ARWU (Academic Ranking of World Universities) ranked it in the top 5. In fact, most publications rank Purdue among the top 10 for aerospace engineering in the country.
The research being done in Purdue’s program can be classified as nothing short of brilliant and visionary. One professor in the aerospace engineering program, Alexy Shashurin, has overseen a device with the potential to treat cancer with plasma cells.
The aerospace engineering program at Purdue is available to both undergraduate and graduate students, making it an ideal option for the aspiring rocket scientist, astronaut, or other space/engineering professional.
HONORABLE MENTION: University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Indiana)
What sets the University of Notre Dame apart from other aerospace engineering programs is that it has relationships with 14 other universities across the world — from Perth, Australia, to Hong Kong, China, to Santiago, Chile.
Its students typically study abroad their fifth and/or sixth semesters and are able to immerse themselves into a new culture.
One seven-week program, which takes place at Tsinghua University in China, allows Notre Dame students to work closely with Chinese students to tackle real-world design challenges for global corporations.
Not a bad summer…
Research also plays a big role at Notre Dame — “from the time Albert Zahm experimented with his manned gliders at the old Science Hall to the computer-aided analysis of supersonic aerodynamics in the wind tunnels of Hessert Center…” the department states.
Its more recent research areas focus on flow physics and control; biomedical science and engineering; mechanics, computation and design; and energy/thermal sciences.