Michael Smith photo

Michael L. Smith

Professor Emeritus of Aeronautical Engineering, USAF Academy and (Retired) Brigadier General USAF 

B.S. ASE 1966, The University of Texas at Austin
M.S. ASE 1967, The University of Texas at Austin
Ph.D. ASE 1973, The University of Texas at Austin

Upon his graduation from UT Austin in 1966, Smith received a commission from AFROTC as a second lieutenant in the USAF and entered graduate school, receiving his M.S. degree in 1967.  After serving in a three-year space system development engineering position at Los Angeles Air Force Station, he returned to graduate school and received his Ph.D. degree in 1973. 

Subsequently, he served as an associate and assistant professor in the Department of Aeronautics at the USAF Academy, where he was recognized as the outstanding professor of aeronautical engineering.

After a year at the USAF Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, Smith was assigned as a branch chief at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. He led an engineering group responsible for engine performance analysis of F-15, F-16, and C-130 aircraft. While at Wright-Patterson, he transferred to the Air Force Institute of Technology faculty and served as associate professor and deputy head of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the institute—the Air Force’s graduate school of engineering.

In 1985, Smith received a presidential appointment as the Professor and Head of the Department of Aeronautics at the USAF Academy. There, he led a military and civilian faculty and staff of over forty individuals teaching courses in aeronautical engineering to over a thousand cadets each year. In addition, he was responsible for the Aeronautics Laboratory—a world-class facility with hypersonic, supersonic, and subsonic wind tunnels, three operating jet engines and numerous other experimental devices and systems. 

Smith retired from the Air Force in 2000, as Professor Emeritus of Aeronautical Engineering at the Academy. He is co-author, with Dr. John J. Bertin, of the textbook Aerodynamics for Engineers, published by Prentice-Hall, and is a registered professional engineer (inactive status) in Colorado. He taught at the Academy on a voluntary basis until 2015. 

Smith lives with his wife Rose Ann in Colorado Springs.