Published: July 18, 2017 By

Dear colleagues, alumni, and friends,Penny Axelrad

For the past five years, I have had the honor of serving as chair of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, now newly named in honor of Ann and H.J. Smead. It has been an exciting time, especially over the past year. We welcomed Bobby Braun, a highly respected aerospace professor, researcher, and former NASA Chief Technologist, as the new dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science; celebrated the naming of our department and the recognition of several distinguished and accomplished faculty members; and are now getting ready to break ground on a dedicated aerospace building, a transformational project that is moving forward after years of planning by many of our faculty and staff members.

These developments are great positives for our department and have not gone unnoticed by prospective students, as applications continue to break records. Since 2012, we have seen tremendous growth in the department, with our numbers increasing 30% to just under 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Fortunately, we have also welcomed 14 outstanding new faculty members who enrich both our research portfolio and educational capacity.

Our department typically seats a new chair every four years.  With the completion of my term, I am delighted to welcome Professor Brian Argrow into this position. He has been a member of our faculty since 1992 and has served previously as Assistant Dean for Education for the College of Engineering and Applied Science, the founding director of the Research and Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles (RECUV), and the IRISS Grand Challenge Initiative. He will do an outstanding job.

As I step down from this position, I also wish to extend a special thanks to Patti Gassaway, our Office Manager and assistant to six aerospace department Chairs, who has retired after 25 years. Patti’s vast knowledge, good humor, and optimistic spirit created a sense of community that has become a hallmark of our department. We wish her great happiness and joyous adventures in her retirement!  I am also delighted to announce that her successor is our own Lauren Cole, who has been an undergraduate advisor with the department since 2013.  Lauren steps into this new role fully versed, bringing her own welcoming spirit, professionalism, and excitement about the future of our department.

Thank you to our alumni and friends for your continued support and enthusiasm.  Please stay in touch!  We are eager to welcome you back to campus and to celebrate your achievements.

Penny Axelrad