UTSI was established in 1964 as part of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT), and has become an internationally recognized institution for graduate study and research in engineering, physics, mathematics, and aviation systems, making remarkable contributions at the local, state, national, and global levels.
In the wake of World War II and in the following decades, the US military greatly expanded its research capabilities, creating laboratories across the country, including the construction, in 1950, of the US Air Force’s Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC). In 1956 the Air Force made contractual arrangements with UT to establish an AEDC graduate study program for AEDC employees.
In 1958 the Soviet Union orbited the Sputnik satellite. In the aftermath of this event, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was formed. The need for space education was severely felt at AEDC, NASA, and throughout the rest of the military, yet few academic institutions offered engineering or related courses in space technology at the time.
B.H. Goethert, chief scientist of Air Force Systems Command at Andrews Air Force Base, proposed to the Air Force and the State of Tennessee that a “Tennessee Aerospace Institute” be located near AEDC. As a result, UTSI was established.
In the years following, UTSI’s faculty, students, and alumni have played critical roles in the furthering of US technological superiority in aeronautics and space arenas. UTSI continues to collaborate with AEDC on present day Air Force pursuits.
Currently, UTSI supports the development of modern hypersonic systems with multiple federally supported research activities in the area. This research primarily focuses on experimental and computational aspects of high-speed aerothermodynamics, and makes use of the proximity of UTSI to aerospace entities in Huntsville, AL and AEDC.