For release March 7, 2006


Student leaders from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and UT Knoxville recently spent a day at the UT Space Institute as guests of the Institute’s Student Government Association (SGA).

“This was a great start on our plans to encourage intra-campus visits by SGA members from all the UT campuses,” said Mark Olles, president of UTSI’s SGA. “We all can benefit from this type association and sharing of ideas, experiences, and career plans. We look forward to future visits from other campuses.”

Curtis Sanderfer, president of SGA at UT Knoxville, and Amy Prevost, SGA president at UTC and a UT trustee, were joined by eight other officers from UTC.

After an early morning presentation by Dr. Gary A. Flandro, the visitors toured Arnold Engineering Development Center, various UTSI research labs, and with UTSI graduate student Mark Blanks as guide, checked out “flying classrooms” at the Institute’s Flight Research Center at Tullahoma airport.

At the close of the busy day, Prevost, with perhaps only a smidgen of hospitable hyperbole, exulted: “I believe I’ve learned more today than I have in four years of college.”

It had been a busy day with Dr. Ahmad Vakili showing them the Institute’s wind and water tunnels, carbon fiber spin lab, propulsion lab, and other facilities, Dr. William Hofmeister challenging the liberal arts students to include science and physics in their studies, a tour of the Center for Laser Applications, and a presentation by Dr. Peter Solies on UTSI’s Aviation Systems program.

Dr. Trevor Moeller and three CLA post-doctoral research associates – Drs. Shaun Li, Lino Costa and Yelena White – also shared information on their various research projects.

Solies, a graduate of UTSI and associate professor, noted that the Institute has a close relationship with test pilots and offers short courses both on campus and in other parts of the country. Aeronautical engineering and aircraft design are emphasized in the master’s degree program, which is well served by UTSI’s distant learning program, Solies said. He pointed out that 11 former UTSI students — including nine from the Aviation Systems program – have gone on to become astronauts.

“We also have two active flying clubs and a glider,” Solies added.


(Top) Three Student Government Association presidents – from left, Mark Olles, UTSI,
Curtis Sanderfer, UT Knoxville, and Amy Prevost, UT Chattanooga and UT trustee
– stand beside UTSI’s small Jet Wing.

(Below) Amy Prevost checks out UTSI’s helicopter.

UTSI’s Mark Olles watches as Cacey Lewis and Regina Wilkerson
of UT Chattanooga try out the cockpit in one of UTSI’s planes.

Visiting SGA leaders from UT Chattanooga and UT Knoxville join
UTSI students beside the Space Institute’s T-39A Sabreliner.

— UTSI Photos