We changed the name of the “Astronautics Option” in Engineering Mechanics to the “Aerospace Engineering Option”. Students will continue to get a degree in “Engineering Mechanics” and so only the name of the option would change. This is only an option and it would not be accredited. The program as a whole would continue to be referred to internally as the Engineering Mechanics & Aerospace Engineering program, although technically this is just an option. For simplicity, the abbreviation will remain EMA.
Historically, “astronautics” was an accurate description for the content of the option, as the crowning classes in the program were “Satellite Dynamics,” “Astrodynamics” and “Finite Element Model Validation” (for spacecraft). At the time of its creation, the content in the astronautics program was dominated by courses offered by Profs Schlack and Kammer, whose expertise was in space vehicles and systems or the “space” part of “Aerospace Engineering.” In the recent decade or two, the focus has shifted to balance more evenly between space and aerospace. Both Schlack and Kammer have retired and have not been replaced by faculty with expertise in the areas that they used to teach in. Popular electives now include “Flight Dynamics and Control,” “Aerodynamics Lab” and “Propulsion.” Aerodynamics has become a staple of the program. The new name better reflects this shift.
Furthermore, the “Astronautics Option” has never had strong name recognition. Students have felt that they have to explain what this is to employers or to other students.
The consensus among the faculty is that the name “Aerospace Engineering” is better understood and would increase interest in and recruitment to the program and simplify the discussions that students have with employers.