University of Nevada, Reno Announces Gift to Establish Aerospace Engineering Program

The $36 million gift will help attract aerospace engineering faculty and allow the institution to grant bachelor's degrees in aerospace engineering within 3-5 years.
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  • The gift will establish the George W. Gillemot Aerospace Engineering Department within the University of Nevada, Reno's College of Engineering.
  • The university will also transform the planetarium and provide fee waivers for visiting K-12 field trips.
  • The university hopes to collaborate with national laboratories and provide students with internships at Boeing and NASA.

Students looking to pursue aerospace engineering can soon look to the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), thanks to a record gift.

UNR announced a $36 million gift from the George W. Gillemot Foundation to create the George W. Gillemot Aerospace Engineering Department within the College of Engineering and transform the planetarium.

Gillemot was a longtime supporter of UNR who passed away earlier this year at age 96. He was a World War II veteran, engineer, entrepreneur, and aviator who was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university in 2000. His vision, UNR said, was to expand the aeronautics industry in Nevada.

The University is humbled and honored to be a part of fulfilling the legacy of George W. Gillemot and his vision of preparing exceptional aerospace engineers to meet the needs of the growing aeronautics and aerospace industries, UNR President Brian Sandoval said.

This milestone gift from the George W. Gillemot Foundation speaks to the strong commitment of the Gillemot Trustees to meet the needs of Nevada's future, as an investment in the success of our students, faculty and staff whose innovative work is driving the next great chapter in our state's history.

Executive Vice President and Provost Jeff Thompson said the gift will help attract accomplished aerospace engineering faculty.

UNR will request approval from the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents. And it will align with the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology to award the first bachelor's degrees in aerospace engineering in 3-5 years.

College of Engineering Dean Erick Jones hopes the university will grow to allow students to collaborate with national laboratories and have internships with Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corp., NASA, and national defense.

The historic gift will also be used for community outreach through the planetarium, funding attendance costs and fee waivers for K-12 students on field trips.

This gift is going to accelerate our national standing in the rapidly changing aerospace field and will ensure that the Planetarium remains at the center of some of the most meaningful academic research and community outreach for the University, Thompson said.

NASA's Investment in Colleges and Universities

NASA has been enabling a new and diverse generation of students nationwide to study space-related careers.

NASA awarded $14 million to 14 minority-serving institutions (MSIs) in August to establish and advance science, technology, engineering, and math majors and to conduct research for the Artemis moon missions. NASA also awarded five non-MSIs funds to test low-orbit projects.

When we return humans to the Moon, it will be thanks to the creativity and dedication of researchers across the nation, Walt Engelund, deputy associate administrator for programs in the Space Technology Mission Directorate, said in a previous press release.

More recently, the University of California, Berkeley and NASA announced a 36-acre space center that will house companies like Google and Microsoft, labs, classrooms, and potentially student housing to accommodate the 47-mile commute from campus.

Space Opportunities for Graduate Students

Graduate students can have the opportunity to study and build space architecture right here on earth through extended reality at the University of Houston (UH).

UH's simulation is the first to combine real-time virtual reality in a greenroom with traditional space simulation, including a crane, heavy equipment, and a mock suit. The idea is for the simulation space to be a part of every thesis defense, Sasakawa International Center of Space Architecture Director Olga Bannova told BestColleges.

Business students interested in space can look abroad for post-grad studies at the Luiss Business School in Amsterdam. The school, headquartered in Italy, announced scholarships in August for its part-time space entrepreneurship and business management programs.

The scholarships cover tuition, usually €16,000, or around $17,468, according to the website.