The University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) is one of eight universities to receive $500,000 12-month awards from The Department of Defense (DOD) designed to accelerate the transition of cutting-edge technology to new hypersonic flight capabilities. “Hypersonics is a top modernization priority for DOD. We are mobilizing government, industry, and academia to provide real capabilities to our warfighters. That begins at the basic research level as exemplified by these exciting university activities,” said Mark Lewis, acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering in a press release announcing the awards. Hypersonic flight at speeds in excess of Mach 5 – or five times the speed of sound – provide a variety of benefits for national defense, such as the ability to respond to time-critical events, such as the deployment of weapons of mass destruction.
Under this initiative, the University of Tennessee is leading a multi-university team that will develop the essential educational curricula for the future hypersonic workforce. The team is led by John Schmisseur of the University of Tennessee Space Institute. The other university partners on this critical venture include the Georgia Institute of Technology, Ohio State University, Florida A&M / Florida State Universities, Purdue University, the University of Virginia and Missouri University of Science & Technology. Development of a hypersonic system requires the integration of many technical disciplines, including aerodynamics; materials science; guidance, navigation and control; instrumentation and sensing; and advanced manufacturing. Under this initiative, the UT-led team will develop educational options for both students who want to pursue careers in hypersonics and the current professional workforce who are rapidly moving into the field. The curricula will address the key requirements for future professionals to be proficient in their technical disciplines and provide a cross-disciplinary perspective to allow scientists and engineers from different fields to effectively work together to create new hypersonic flight systems.