Excellence in academia and research arise from a collaboration between outstanding students and faculty in an environment that fosters opportunities to explore interests, gain understanding, and contribute to solutions of important research questions. At CU Boulder's Ann & H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, The Smead Program provides excellence in research, academic programming, and personal and professional enrichment for the brightest minds pursuing graduate- and faculty-level research in aerospace engineering.

The Smead Program incubates a well-rounded community for support and collaboration between the Smead Scholars (PhD Candidates), the Smead Faculty Fellows, the A. Richard Seebass Chair, the Michael M. Byram Distinguished Visiting Professorship, and the Smead Space Technology Chair (currently CU Boulder's Dean of the College of Engineering, Dr. Bobby Braun). The Smead Program also supports an annual Fall Dinner for Smead Program participants, and a spring Smead Symposium that takes place every year in Vail, Colorado. 

Smead Scholars

Only two of the department's incoming PhD candidates are selected to be Smead Scholars each year. The program makes the pursuit of graduate studies more financially feasible and intellectually captivating by providing incoming students with freedom to determine their preferred line of research through full tuition coverage and a monthly research stipend above the Graduate Research Assistant rate, plus additional annual stipends in years 2-4.

Scholars also receive:

  • An Annual Travel Budget for conferences and other relevant scholastic travel:
    • This is a general travel fund that allows Scholars to travel to a conference or workshop that they are presenting at or is of value to their research or studies. Smead Scholars use these funds to attend events large and small. Funds can also be used for professional development opportunities. 
  • Access to Senior Leadership in the aerospace community across academia, government, and industry:
    • The Smead Program Director works with the Scholars to craft unique seminars or trainings with organizations on and off campus, focused on areas such as communication and presentation skills, business and entrepreneurial acumen, career path and well-being, and other areas requested by the Scholars. This could mean going off for a private retreat with just your fellow Scholars for a weekend in the mountains, or receiving trainings from career development professionals from some of the top aerospace companies. These activities occur throughout each academic year.
  • Access to Dedicated Professional Development and Soft Skills Training:
    • Scholars have access to the combined network of the Smead Scholar alumni and Faculty Fellows, which truly spans the globe. In addition, Scholars can work with the Smead Program Director to set up meetings with visiting speakers or other department guests, or help arrange meetings for Scholars when they travel.
  • Participation in the Annual Smead Symposium:
    • This two-day Symposium in the heart of the Rocky Mountains convenes the Smead Scholars, Scholar Alumni, Faculty Fellows, and other department faculty involved in The Smead Program with external speakers from academia, industry, and government for a series of research and professional development talks and panels. The Smead Family also joins in. In 2018, we were joined by the heads of the Air Force’s hypersonics research program and Sierra Nevada Corporation’s DreamChaser development program. In 2019, we’ll be joined by former Shuttle astronaut and US Naval Academy professor, Capt. Kenneth Reightler (USN, Ret.), along with senior industry leaders. The Symposium also includes some type of afternoon activity on the second day that’s just for fun—in the past we’ve gone white water rafting, horseback riding, and ATV’ing. It’s a weekend to share, learn, and destress with colleagues old and new. Those selected to be Scholars starting in Fall 2019 will be invited to attend this year's Symposium, occurring April 12-13, 2019.

Smead Scholars are selected in part because of their demonstrated leadership and public service qualities, and are nationally-recognized for the excellence of their research and character, with alumni spanning the nation both geographically and across the aerospace sector.

Faculty Fellows

Up to two tenure-track aerospace department faculty are selected to be Smead Faculty Fellows. These Fellows are chosen for their outstanding research records and mentorship qualities, supporting both groundbreaking science and the Scholars themselves. The Michael M. Byram Distinguished Visiting Professorship brings an internationally-renowned external researcher to Cu Boulder for one or two semesters each year, further amplifying the research impact of our department.

The Smead Scholarship for Graduate Students was established in 2006 to honor the memory of Dr. Harold J. “Joe” Smead (learn more about Dr. Smead in the "About Joe Smead" sidebar above). 

Original funding for the Smead Scholars Program was provided in 2006 by Joe’s widow, Ann, and Michael Byram, then president of the University of Colorado Foundation, in honor and respect for a man who achieved so much and yet was so modest about his accomplishments and generous philanthropy, including to this very department. To qualify and be selected as a Smead Scholar is a singular and distinguished honor in an individual’s academic career.