WSU graduate and former NIAR employee Phil Butler, left, and John Laffen, director of the NIAR Wind & Water Tunnel.
Photo: Courtesy NIAR
WSU aerospace engineering earns Top 3 national ranking
Feb 5, 2008 4:17 PM | Print

A new study by the National Science Foundation ranks Wichita State University third among all U.S. universities in money spent on aerospace engineering research and development.

In 2006, the most recent numbers available, WSU spent $19 million on aerospace engineering R&D.

That's an improvement from the previous year's fourth-place ranking, and it places WSU in the company of Johns Hopkins University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, which were first and second, respectively.

WSU placed above prestigious universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University.

The top 10 universities in aerospace research spending are:

• Johns Hopkins University
• Georgia Institute of Technology
• Wichita State University
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology
• Texas A&M University
• University of Maryland 
• University of Colorado
• University of Texas
• University of Tennessee
• University of Florida

Wichita State's No. 3 rank is largely due to the research and testing programs at the National Institute for Aviation Research at WSU. This significant growth is partly because of the support of the local and national aviation industry, the state of Kansas and numerous federal agencies.

John Tomblin

"This ranking is a demonstration of the commitment from our federal congressional delegation, Kansas Legislature and the surrounding aviation industry to support additional research to help ensure the United States and Kansas will remain strong in aviation pioneering," said NIAR executive director John Tomblin.

NIAR has grown at a steady rate for the past 10 years, increasing its operating budget from $10 million in 1997 to $35 million in 2007.

"With the growth and work accomplished at NIAR over the last few years, we expected to move up in the ranking," said Tom Aldag, director of research and development. "It is exciting to be in the company of these prestigious research institutions."

Continued growth and high ranks in aerospace research are expected for Wichita State and NIAR with the addition of a new test facility, laboratories and involvement in the National Center for Aviation Training, managed by Wichita Area Technical College.

NIAR's new facility, located behind the main facility on the WSU campus, houses several of NIAR's new environmental testing laboratories, which provide DO-160 certification testing.

The National Center for Aviation Training will be located at Jabara Airport and will provide a wide range of aviation training services. NIAR will have facilities dedicated to CATIA training, composites research, nondestructive inspection and advanced joining technologies at this facility, which is scheduled to open to students in the fall of 2010.

For all engineering R&D expenditures, WSU ranked No. 88, with $21.8 million, down from No. 70 last year.

For more information, contact Tracee Friess, marketing and communication, NIAR, (316) 978-5597 or
Created on Feb 5, 2008 4:17 PM; Last modified on Mar 14, 2008 1:05 PM
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