FAQ for Future Students

Q: I don’t want to study space or become an astronaut. Should I still consider UTSI?

A: Then UTSI is the place for you! In addition to our space focus, we also have research in many other areas, including aerodynamics, aircraft flight testing, biophysics, lasers, fluid dynamics, CFD, image and signal processing, engineering management, human factors, information systems, maintenance and reliability engineering, Hamiltonian mechanics, wavelets, quantum optics, and theoretical physics.

Q: I do want to study space, is UTSI the place for me?

A: Then UTSI is the place for you! One of our proudest points is the number of astronauts we have educated. Also, our Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Science Department offers many specialties in space, including spacecraft engineering, orbital mechanics, microgravity fluid dynamics, and rocket propulsion. Also, our Boling Chair of Excellence in Space Propulsion, Dr. Gary Flandro, discovered the “Grand Tour” orbital mechanics scheme that allowed NASA to launch the Voyager spacecraft on their missions to the outer planets in our solar system. When it comes to space expertise, UTSI is one of the premiere institutions in the world.

Q: Is UTSI too remote?

A: If you are from a city the size of Atlanta, UTSI will take some getting used to. We are located adjacent to Arnold Engineering Development Center (an Air Force research facility), with the town of Tullahoma roughly ten minutes to the west and the interstate roughly ten minutes to the east. Winchester and Manchester are also about fifteen minutes away. Huntsville, Nashville, and Chattanooga are all about an hour away. Atlanta, Knoxville and Birmingham are all about two and a half to three and a half hours away. So if you’re a big city person, you can still have the big cities, you just have to do a little driving to get there. But the advantage is that when you’re at UTSI you don’t have the distractions you might have in a larger city. Also, in a smaller town it is sometimes easier to find a family atmosphere and if you like being involved in the community, you will find opportunities to get involved in a significant way.

Q: Do I need a car?

A: A car is strongly recommended at UTSI. The campus is located approximately ten miles from the towns of Tullahoma, Winchester, and Manchester. A car will be needed to shop for groceries, get hair cuts, medical services, attend church, and attend to other basic needs. Students without cars have carpooled with other students who own vehicles, but it is extremely difficult to not have some means of personal transportation.

Q: Does UTSI have all of UT’s astronauts?

A: Most, but not all, of the astronauts who attended some part of the University of Tennessee received their degrees from UTSI. See our astronauts page to learn about our astronaut alumni!

Q: What happens to a graduate student whose funding is dropped?

A: Any number of conditions can cause government agencies or industry organizations to unexpectedly terminate university contracts. This is not a regular event, but it can happen at any university and probably has happened at most, if not all universities. When this happens, a student can find himself or herself without stipend and tuition support. Normally, efforts are made to place the student under another contract. However, if this proves impossible, the student can be responsible for his or her own university expenses. At UTSI we have made it a point to keep as many of our students on some kind of funded support as is possible and have been almost entirely successful. The overwhelming majority of our students will never have to worry about paying for their education while at UTSI. And while our graduate pay is not as high as some universities, it is enough to live on while we are here, especially given the low cost of living in the Coffee and Franklin county areas.

Q: What is crime/campus safety like?

A: Crime is virtually nonexistent at UTSI. While there are occasionally minor petty thefts, they are few and far between. Basically, those with criminal tendencies don’t seem to make it this far. As far as campus safety, I worry more about not hitting deer while driving at night than about people. We’re not quite in the era where you can leave your door unlocked and your car running unattended, but UTSI is closer to that era than most other campuses you will find.

Q: What severe weather can occur at UTSI?

A: UTSI normally enjoys very benign weather. However, throughout the south, tornadoes are possible during severe thunderstorms. In the winter, snow and ice are particularly rare. But like much of the south, small amounts of snow or ice can close roads.


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