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Short Course Program Plays Major Role at UTSI, Daniel Tells Tullahoma Rotarians

A year-round short course program plays a major role in The University of Tennessee Space Institute’s educational mission, Donald C. Daniel told Tullahoma Rotarians in a speech Oct. 13.

This self-supporting program each year reaches from 250 to 500 graduate engineers needing special training in subjects ranging from aero propulsion and solid propelled rocket motors to numerous computer courses and in-depth aviation related sessions, Daniel said. Becky Stines heads the short course program.

Daniel mentioned his first-hand experience in flying a Navion rigged to “make students think their plane is iced over” – a crucial aircraft for an in-flight icing course in progress at UTSI’s Flight Research Center this week under direction of Rich Ranaudo, UTSI research professor.

“I recently flew that plane, and it is very difficult to get it to respond,” said Daniel, UT associate vice president and chief operating officer of the Space Institute.

UTSI’s largest programs at the present are in Aviation Systems, led by Stephen Corda, and Engineering Management chaired by Greg Sedrick, Daniel said.

UTSI receives “millions of dollars” in pursuit of its research mission, Daniel said, while offering Ph.D.’s and master’s degrees in a variety of technical areas.

UT sponsored a graduate school at Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) for eight years before UTSI was established on Sept. 24, 1964.

“We have awarded nearly 2,000 degrees,” Daniel said, “and about a third of these graduates have been with AEDC, one of our reasons for being here.”

The Institute has recently begun research in bio-medicine physics, which Daniel noted “is a “big deal in the national growth area.”

“We are recruiting people to join Ahmad Vakili’s research into carbon-based materials,” Daniel said, citing this work along with UTSI’s Center for Laser Applications, propulsion, computational mechanics, gas dynamics, and materials laboratories. Several professors – tenured and research – are being hired, and a national search is under way for an assistant vice president of research and development to succeed Joel W. Muehlhauser, who retires Dec. 31.

The speaker cited plans to build a new Flight Research Center at Tullahoma Airport, noting that “it may take two years to get this funded for about $11 million.” Such a facility not only would provide a hangar capable of housing UTSI’s five fixed-wing and three rotary-wing aircrafts, he said, but also accommodate new research.

Stressing the Institute’s dedication to UT’s strategic plan for UTSI, Daniel said “student access and success, research and economic development,” and “outreach and globalization” are vital parts of the plan.

“We’ve got to get more people to stay in school and to go to graduate school,” he said. He pledged UTSI’s help in economic development.

Sam Mann was chairman of the Friday 13th program, and introduced Daniel.