Asee peer logo

Usc Astronautics And Space Technology Program: From Humble Beginning To New Academic Unit

Download Paper |


2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Astronautics and Space Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1383.1 - 10.1383.7



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Mike Gruntman

author page

Joseph Kunc

author page

Dan Erwin

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

USC Astronautics and Space Technology Program: From Humble Beginning to New Academic Unit

Mike Gruntman, Daniel A. Erwin, and Joseph A. Kunc

Astronautics and Space Technology Division, Viterbi School of Engineering University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90089-1192, USA


The Astronautics and Space Technology Division ( of the University of Southern California (USC) offers today a full set of undergraduate and graduate degree pro- grams in astronautical engineering. The program focuses on the needs of the space industry and government research and development centers and covers main areas of spacecraft technology. Many graduate courses are taught by adjunct faculty who are top experts working in the space industry. The Master of Science degree and Graduate Certificate are available through the USC Distance Education Network (DEN), reaching students anywhere in the world through webcast- ing. We describe the origin and academic focus of the program that was recently reorganized as an independent academic unit in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

Aerospace Workforce

The acute need to improve space-related education has emerged as a major challenge for the American space enterprise.1 One-third of the technical workforce of the space industry and gov- ernment research and development centers will reach retirement eligibility within the next sev- eral years. NASA’s Associate Administrator for Education described the current situation as a national crisis.2 The report of the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry, chaired by former congressman Robert S. Walker, urged in November 2002 to “reverse immedi- ately the decline in the scientifically and technologically trained U.S. aerospace workforce and promote its future growth.”3 In another chilling observation, an editorial in AIAA’s Aerospace America noted that “80% [of aerospace workers] said that they would not recommend aerospace careers for their own children.” In addition, enrollment in nation’s engineering schools steadily declines, while many undergraduate and graduate students are foreign nationals, which makes them largely ineligible for defense contractors and the military.

At the same time, the importance of space continues to grow for national security and economy. The United States depends on space assets more than any other nation on earth and this country leads the world in exploration and utilization of space. Most of the nations are simply not com- mitted to space to the same degree. Only France (and the old Soviet Union of the past) ap- proaches the U.S. space expenditures in terms of fraction of the gross domestic product (GDP). Most other industrialized countries spend in space, as fraction of GDP, four to six times less than the United States.4

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Gruntman, M., & Kunc, J., & Erwin, D. (2005, June), Usc Astronautics And Space Technology Program: From Humble Beginning To New Academic Unit Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14748

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015