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.

Thomas McKnight

Sharing the Dream: Thomas and Mimi McKnight Donate $1M to Create New Student Center

John Heideman

Supporting ASE/EM Student Projects and Women in Aerospace

Dave and Charlene Ernst

Typical Alumni Couple, Remarkable Generosity

Dick and Judy Perkins

Supporting Student Projects for a Decade

Steve DeLeon

Committed to Recruiting More Women in Aerospace Engineering

Millennium Engineering

Working with Alumni to Recruit More 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


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.

Women in Aerospace for Leadership Development (WIALD)

wiald group photo 2018

The Women in Aerospace for Leadership and Development is a student-run organization that focuses on facilitating the development of leadership skills for women in all undergraduate engineering majors while attracting and retaining more women in engineering by making group activities fun, exciting and ultimately valuable in achieving long-range career goals. We also focus on a different hands-on project each year, switching between atmospheric and space in order to gain a wider field of experience. This year we will be competing in the SAE Aero Design Competition, where we will create an original aircraft design and compete head to head with other teams from around the country. In addition to designing and building the aircraft, we will be conducting an oral presentation, a design report and a flight performance. This competition was developed and designed by industry professionals with the focus on educational value and hands-on experience through exposure to today's technical and technology advancements. Estimated Cost: $10,000

Texas Aerial Robotics (TAR)

texas aerial robotics group photo 2018

Texas Aerial Robotics (TAR) is a student organization aimed at giving students the opportunity to build, program and fly a fully autonomous multi-copter. TAR competes in the International Aerial Robotics Competition (IARC) which challenges students to use fully autonomous drones to solve missions at the cutting edge of aerial vehicles. Those missions include tasks that have never been done before, which require TAR to develop and utilize computer vision, neural networks, control algorithms, computational modeling, 3d design and corporate relations to accomplish. Estimated Cost: $20,000

Longhorn Rocketry Association (LRA)

longhorn rocketry association group photo 2018

The Longhorn Rocketry Association is continuing to push the bounds of undergraduate rocketry with its hybrid engine and Spaceport America Cup (SAC) projects. The club is working on integrating a flight-weight engine into a rocket airframe to launch at SAC 2019 along with other exciting research projects. This year will see the creation of a research and development team dedicated to advanced missions such as air-braking and engine throttling. The newly built engine test facility at Pickle Research Campus (PRC) is in full operation with more developments and improvements planned, including a vertical test stand. The club is continuing to build towards the goal of launching an entirely student designed, built and tested rocket to 100,000 feet and then further to the edge of space. Estimated Cost: $25,000

Design/Build/Fly (DBF)

design build fly group photo 2018

The UT Design/Build/Fly (DBF) team is developing a radio-controlled aircraft for the international AIAA Design/Build/Fly competition, hosted by Raytheon in Tucson, Arizona in April 2019. Each 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 “Regional and Business Aircraft” which required the construction of a small aircraft with parts that were easily replaceable and which was capable of carrying both "passengers" and payload. 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 during construction all to optimize aircraft performance while keeping manufacturing affordable. Estimated Cost: $12,000

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV Austin)

unmanned aerial vehicles group photo 2018

The UT Unmanned Aerial Vehicle team, UAV Austin, is continuing the development and construction of the team’s next generation unmanned aerial system (UAS), Phoenix III, in preparation for the 2019 AUVSI Student Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS) competition held in St. Mary's County, Maryland. Recently, at the 2018 AUVSI SUAS competition, UAV Austin placed sixth out of 63 teams, which is record-placement for the team. Unlike the team’s previous system, Phoenix III will be designed and built ground-up by the students. The UAS will feature full-composite body and upgraded electronics with aerodynamically optimized structure. The team has also incorporated modular system technology to the design of Phoenix III, which will allow gradual and substantial growth of the UAS over a long period. Additionally, the team is upgrading the ground station with new hardware in order to increase efficiency of test and competition flights. This includes a new tracking antenna, which will provide a more effective communication system. Estimated Cost: $10,000

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