|Our Student Projects Will Continue to Skyrocket with Your Support|
|Written by Prof. Philip L. .Varghese, ASE/EM Chair|
Prof. Philip L. Varghese
Summer has once again arrived, signifying a time of growth and change. These seasonal changes in nature parallel changes within the department.
I will be stepping down from my administrative role as department chair effective August 31 this year. I look forward to returning to full-time teaching, research and service. During my time as chair I have greatly enjoyed working with faculty, staff, students, alumni and parents in building a better and stronger department – a department whose graduate program was recently ranked No. 8 by U.S. News & World Report.
I am pleased to announced that Dean Fenves has officially announced that Prof. Noel Clemens will be taking my place as Department Chair, effective Sept. 1. I am confident that Prof. Clemens will be an excellent department leader. He has a sterling reputation for teaching and research excellence and recently won the Lockheed Martin Award for Excellence in Engineering Teaching. He is often cited by graduating seniors as one of the best teachers in the department.
Despite other changes, some things remain constant. Our students still love to design and build anything that will fly – in the atmosphere or in space. This past year the Longhorn Rocket Association launched a series of successively higher launches while Women In Aerospace Leadership and Development successfully built and launched an IMU payload in Spaceport, America.
Thanks to funding from alumni, parents and friends like you, our students participate in a variety of hands-on projects. The breadth and depth of these extra-curricular projects continue to grow with student participation skyrocketing to almost 250 undergraduate and graduate students. These projects keep our students excited about engineering, and allow them to apply their classroom knowledge in the real world. The projects truly make aerospace theory come to life and develop future engineering leaders.
Much of this growth has been possible thanks to a truly wonderful couple who over the past nine years have given $450,000 for student projects. Although they still plan to be involved, they are now passing the torch of giving to other alumni, parents and friends of the department. Please don’t let the flame they started burn out. We need an army of torch bearers to keep our student projects burning bright. I hope you will consider making a gift.
Your gift will support our students as they travel to national competitions like the Cessna/Raytheon Design-Build-Fly Competition (DBF) that our students participated in this past April in Wichita, Kansas. Team BEVO placed 11th among 68 teams, even though they weren't able to participate in all three missions due to inclement weather. Nearly forty students traveled to the competition, but more than seventy students have been involved in the project, the largest group ever, and mainly comprising freshmen and sophomores.
Your gift will also support the Satellite Design Lab where students are monitoring two micro-satellites known collectively as FASTRAC that were successfully commanded to separate from each other last March from the UT ground station and are now flying freely in a 650 km circular orbit. New missions are underway including a joint project with Texas A&M to demonstrate proximity operations and rendezvous of two satellites that will be deployed from the International Space Station in 2013. At the same time, students are building ARMADILLO – a handheld nanosatellite that has six degrees of freedom maneuverability. It contains an orbital debris sensor as well as a dual frequency GPS receiver which is capable of orbit determination with centimeter level precision and can help make radio-occultation measurements of the Earth’s ionosphere. ARMADILLO is planned to launch in 2014.
As I pass the torch to a new department chair, and some leading donors do the same to the next generation of philanthropists, I know the department will continue on its path of excellence. With your continued support and involvement, the sky is not