Why Giving Matters

Chairman's blurb here

Throughout the decades the Department of Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics at The University of Texas has grown into one of the finest in the nation. Our graduates enter the workforce with the skills and knowledge to change the world through groundbreaking research, technological advances, and entrepreneurial ventures. Many of these alumni have given back to the university. We would like to thank those individuals who have faithfully given for 20 or more years. It is an elite group of alumni who have made their mark on the world both professionally and through their philanthropy.

George Botbyl, BS ASE '80

George BotbylHometown: Austin, TX
Employer: University of Texas ASE-EM Department, UT Center for Space Research, U.S. Air Force
Title: Retired Lecturer, Researcher, Pilot

Proudest Accomplishment: Receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross medal for combat actions as pilot of an AC-119K gunship during the Vietnam war.

UT Memories: I recall dropping a punched card deck that was a class research project on the way to the computation center and struggling to get the cards back in the correct order for the program to work. Took some time but finally was successful – card decks are now a part of history.

Edward Clemmer Jr. BS ASE '60

Ed ClemmerHometown: Palm Desert, CA
Employer: North American Aviation, American Airlines, U.S. Air Force
Title: Retired Pilot, Engineer, Teacher

Proudest Accomplishment:
Straight out of UT while working at North American Aviation, I was in charge of all of the aerodynamic heating wind tunnel testing on the Apollo. I could set up and perform any wind tunnel test in the country. It was a very challenging job and I was proud knowing I helped get a few astronauts back from the moon.

UT Memories: I was in the first class of Aerospace Engineering graduates. Before 1960, it was Aeronautical Engineering. It’s amazing to think we took all our basic engineering courses in one building – Taylor Hall.

R. David Ernst, BS ASE '63

Dave ErnstHometown: Weatherford, TX
Employer: Lockheed Martin Aeronautics
Title: Engineering Senior Specialist

Proudest Accomplishment: Serving on a team that influenced both the design and manufacturing of the F-16 Fighting Falcon – the most successful jet fighter program in history.

On Giving Back: As a student, I paid out-of-state tuition and didn’t have scholarships. I was convinced that I had paid for my degree all on my own, and didn’t owe UT a thing. Later, I realized what I paid was a small fraction of what it cost the university to provide my education. Back in the ’50’s and ’60’s the state provided more than 80% of UT’s funding, and today is it just 14%. I contribute in my small way to help young people receive the same quality education that I received.

Whether you are making your annual Friends Of Alec (FOA) contribution, creating an endowment or simply wishing to make a generous donation to the ASE/EM department, the following are ways you may pay for your gift:

1. Online Gifts (including gifts to Friends of Alec) Access the convenience of secure online giving through the University's giving page.

2. Checks sent via US Mail All checks in support of the Cockrell School of Engineering should be made payable to The University of Texas at Austin. Please note in the memo line your gift's designation within the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics. Checks should be mailed to the address listed below.

3. Matching Gifts Alumni and friends can maximize the impact of their giving to ASE/EM through employer matching gift programs. Most matches are dollar-for-dollar (1:1), effectively doubling - or in some cases tripling - the value of donors' gifts. Some companies match the gifts of retirees and spouses as well as those of active employees.

4. Bequests and Planned Gifts Gift planning is one of the most powerful ways you can support the ASE/EM department. Through a planned or deferred gift, donors can positively affect the future of the deparatment and its students. Learn more about structuring a gift that will help you honor your values and meet your personal, financial, and estate planning goals.

5. Stock Transfer A gift of appreciated stock is an excellent way to support the School, simultaneously avoiding capital gains tax and taking a charitable deduction. To ensure proper processing, donors should alert a staff member in the Cockrell School at (512) 471-3395 to request transfer instructions.

6. Wire Transfer Wire transfers are most commonly used with gifts made from outside the United States or for large gifts within the US. To ensure proper gift credit of the gift, donors should contact a staff member in the Cockrell School at (512) 471-3395 to request transfer instructions.

7. UT Faculty and Staff Payroll Deduction Are you a UT employee? If so, you can support the department through payroll deduction. Set up your payroll deduction.

All checks and documentation in support of the ASE/EM Department should be mailed to:

The University of Texas at Austin
301 E. Dean Keeton St., C2104
Austin, TX 78712-0287
Telephone: 512-471-3395
Fax: 512-471-3995

How does the support of our donors have a direct impact on our students’ educational experience? We asked some of our students this very question. Read more about how gifts from our alumni and friends like you have made a difference to our students. To learn more about these student projects and/or to support our student teams, visit our student projects page.

Aadil Pappa, Senior

Safety Officer, Longhorn Rocketry Association (LRA)

Aadil Pappa

I first heard about LRA at orientation before the start of my freshman year. As Sarah, the undergraduate advisor, listed out the different extracurricular clubs available to aerospace engineering students, I instantly decided that I would check out LRA first because I always wanted to learn more about rockets. I went on to build two amateur rockets from scratch for my level one and level two certifications, became inventory treasurer in junior year and became safety officer this year.

LRA is one of the best engineering clubs to join to gain hands-on skills and apply classroom knowledge to the design, fabrication and launch of mechanical systems – in this case rockets. Through LRA’s certification group, I learned to use machine shop, wood shop, and advanced manufacturing equipment to turn a computer design into a physical rocket. I also applied my aerodynamics, structural mechanics and rigid body dynamics course knowledge to both design and operational settings, allowing me to bridge the gap between theoretical concepts and real-world application.

Throughout my time with LRA, I’ve come to appreciate how valuable those hands-on skills are to aerospace companies. Many of the best internships available in the industry are with companies that demand that their interns have experience designing and building something from scratch according to engineering principles. To meet this demand, our organization has a heavy focus on lowerclassmen involvement throughout the design, build and launch process.

In recent years, our donors and the department have helped us increase our member base while simultaneously assuming a more research and development focus. This semester, out of our 30 certification group members – a 500% membership increase over the previous year—, 24 of them are freshmen. They will individually design, build and launch their own high powered rockets for their level one and level two certifications. Parallel to those efforts, our engine development team is designing a custom liquid rocket engine and building a rocket engine test stand at Pickle Research Center, while our Multi-Staged team is designing and building highly optimized two-stage rockets to break the club’s altitude record. None of these projects would be possible without the support of our incredible donors. So on behalf of LRA, I would like to thank you for making these projects possible!

Amy Ekiriwang, Senior

President, Design/Build/Fly (DBF)

Amy Akiriwang

I joined DBF as a freshman, uncertain about whether or not aerospace engineering was the major I should be in. I came in with zero knowledge about composites, machine shop tools, or propulsion systems, and close to zero knowledge about how airplanes actually worked.

While I took my first-year level calculus, chemistry, and programming classes, through DBF I also got to learn about all the different components of an airplane and the basic aerodynamic concepts of how they worked together to make the whole thing fly. I learned about the processes involved in designing and fabricating all the components, and I had a lot of fun doing tons of hands-on work together with the new friends I met through the organization. The basic classes I was taking didn’t do much to reassure me that I had chosen the right major, but my experience through DBF reaffirmed that I wanted to study aerospace engineering.

After a semester and a half of hard work, it all came to fruition when we went to Tucson, Arizona to attend the international competition, where we placed 5th out of more than 60 entries. Getting to see the plane we designed and built from scratch fly and compete against other teams from all around the world was such an amazing feeling. My sophomore year, I was the chief engineer for DBF, and we got to go to Wichita, Kansas, which was just as fun and memorable as the competition freshman year. It was also my experience from DBF that landed me a great internship the summer after my sophomore year.

I’m now a junior, and this year I am the president/team lead of DBF. We will be going back to Tucson this year, and hope to continue placing well. From all my involvement in DBF, I’ve gained valuable knowledge and skills, as well as some of my closest friends. Joining DBF positively impacted my overall college experience more than anything else I’ve been involved in, and we have the department and donors to thank for making these experiences possible.

There’s no way we would be able to come up with the resources to buy materials, test designs, and travel to competitions without the generosity of our donors. Thank you so much for all that you’ve done to help provide undergraduates with a valuable educational experience!

Blake Younger, Senior

President, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Blake Younger

I learned about the amazing things the UAV team does with autonomous drone technology in Aug. 2015. With Amazon building drone delivery prototypes and Silicon Valley startups exploring agricultural, security and other drone applications, I knew that the drone industry promised to be an interesting and quickly growing field. I began my time with UAV in the conceptual operations subteam, which controls the plane using autopilot software. In Jan. 2016, I became the president. We placed 15th out of 43 teams at the 2016 Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Student Unmanned Aerial Systems Competition (AUVSI SUAS).

When my team members or I are interviewing for jobs, involvement in the UAV team is always a selling point. Not much can beat hands-on experience on an autonomously flying plane with video surveillance, image recognition, payload delivery and obstacle avoidance capabilities. All of the knowledge acquired in UAV is directly applicable to the emerging drone industry, and many of our previous members have benefited from their experience.

We need a variety of materials to enable us to improve and test our plane and to compete at the international competition. I am confident that if we achieve our fundraising goal, we can earn a top 10 position at the competition in 2017. We rely significantly on donors to meet our ambitions. Thank you in advance for your generosity!

The Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics has benefited from extraordinary gifts. Read through our inspirational stories to learn how one gift, made by people like you, has made a difference in another's life.

John Heideman

Supporting ASE/EM Student Projects and Women in Aerospace

Brian McKee

Operation Enduring Respect: Thanking Wounded Soldiers for Their Patriotism

Changing the World One Year at a Time

Alumni Who Have Faithfully Given for 20 or More Years

Jeffrey Mikeska

Scholarship Created in Memory of Aerospace Student Reaches Presidential Level

Steve DeLeon

Committed to Recruiting More Women in Aerospace Engineering

Millennium Engineering

Working with Alumni to Recruit More Women in Aerospace

Dave and Charlene Ernst

Typical Alumni Couple, Remarkable Generosity

Dick and Judy Perkins

Supporting Student Projects for a Decade

The Department’s mission is to turn our students into future engineering leaders who will make an impact on the world. Student projects, organizations and research offer unique opportunities for our students to network with peers and faculty, travel to national conferences and competitions and explore possible career paths while building up a strong resume. In addition to these valuable benefits, our students also gain important technical knowledge and critical thinking skills. The real leaders in ASE/EM are the alumni, parents, corporate partners and friends who provide financial support to our students.


Design Build Fly Group

The UT Design/Build/Fly team is developing a radio-controlled aircraft for the international AIAA Design/Build/Fly competition, hosted by Cessna, a Textron Aviation company, in Wichita, Kansas in April 2018. Every competition consists of various flight and ground missions that change from year to year based on that year’s rules and theme. Last year’s theme was “Tube-launched UAV”, and required the construction of a hand-launched aircraft that could carry at least 3 hockey pucks.  During the school year, students will learn firsthand how a team of engineers must work together to create a functioning product by a set deadline. The team will utilize composites, wood, testing and machining equipment, and electric motors to optimize aircraft performance while keeping manufacturing affordable. Estimated Cost: $10,000

Longhorn Rocketry Association

Longhorn Rocketry Group

The Longhorn Rocketry Association will finish construction of a rocket engine test facility at the Pickle Research Center (PRC) by fall 2017. This facility will allow for horizontal and vertical static fire tests of student researched, designed, and built rocket engines. Currently, the club is working on several versions of a development hybrid rocket engine in order to compete in the Student Researched and Designed (SRAD) hybrid/liquid rocket propulsion system category for the 2018 Spaceport America Cup, an international rocketry competition held in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Additionally, the club is continuing to build upon its knowledge gained from its hugely successful certification group by creating increasingly large serially staged rockets with the intent to reach 100,000 feet. LRA intends to combine its staged and engine development teams in the future in order to launch its own liquid rocket engines to the edge of space. Estimated Cost: $20,000

Women in Aerospace Engineering for Leadership Development (WIALD)


The Women in Aerospace for Leadership and Development are working on a hand tool that will enable astronauts on the ISS to detect and permanently cover sharp edges caused by MMOD impacts on EVA handrails. The International Space Station (ISS) has many handrails mounted on its exterior to enable astronauts to get around during Extravehicular Activities (EVA), or spacewalks. These handrails can develop sharp edges due to impacts by Micrometeoroids and Orbital Debris (MMOD). The sharp edges can be dangerous since they have the ability to cut parts of the spacesuit, in particular the gloves. This challenge is multifaceted. First, the astronauts need to be able to detect a sharp edge, which can be difficult when wearing a pressured spacesuit. Then, once located, the astronauts need to remove or cover the sharp edge without creating an additional hazard. The Built-In sharp Ridge Identification and Covering Kit (BRICK) also works in neutral buoyancy conditions because the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory is used to simulate microgravity in space. Estimated Cost: $6,000

UT Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Team (UAV)

UAV Group

The UT Unmanned Aerial Vehicle team is a student group project that offers students the opportunity to learn valuable technical and soft skills in the field of aerospace while working in a team environment. We will again compete in the AUVSI Student Unmanned Aerial Systems competition in June 2018, after taking 16th of 54 teams in 2017. The UAV team is improving on the recent plane that flew in the 2017 competition and programs involving automated obstacle avoidance to be competitively prepare for 2018. Also, the UAV team will work on a new back-up plane this year with good-size fuselage space, upgraded electronics, and payload delivery capabilities. All of the previous year’s functionality will be repeated, including real-time video surveillance, image recognition, autonomous takeoff, flight, landing, and automated obstacle avoidance. The team will need to purchase many new components for the current and back-up plane, as well as cover their travel costs to the AUVSI SUAS competition. Estimated Cost: $9,000

Texas Aerial Robotics

Texas Aerial Robotics group

Texas Aerial Robotics is competing in the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC). IARC is a highly-sophisticated competition which pushes the limits of what is considered possible in the field of intelligent autonomous aerial vehicles. The team is researching and applying skills such as computer vision, computational simulation, parallel computing, controls, design, and fabrication to create a system that autonomously interacts with moving ground targets. Estimated Cost: $15,000Texas Aerial Robotics is competing in the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC). IARC is a highly-sophisticated competition which pushes the limits of what is considered possible in the field of intelligent autonomous aerial vehicles. The team is researching and applying skills such as computer vision, computational simulation, parallel computing, controls, design, and fabrication to create a system that autonomously interacts with moving ground targets. Estimated Cost: $15,000

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