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Virginia Tech's New Practice Oriented Aerospace Engineering Master's Degree

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.519.1 - 1.519.8

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Paper Authors

author page

B. Grossman

author page

William H. Mason

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

Session 0502

Virginia Tech’s New Practice-Oriented Aerospace Engineering Master’s Degree

W.H. Mason and B. Grossman Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering and Multidisciplinary Analysis and Design Center for Advanced Vehicles Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA 24061


This paper describes a new graduate degree program in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech. Responding to strong industry comments, five engineering departments (AOE, ME, ISE, MSE, and ESM) at Virginia Tech have established a new practice-oriented master’s degree (MEng). The new degree fit within existing guidelines so that no new administrative approval was required. On an individual department basis the addition of several new courses each would have been impossible. By working together it became possible to add two new college-wide courses. We believe that the new program is unique in that it is truly multidisciplinary. Students from the five different college of engineering departments will be taking classes together and working on the design project teams together. The program will be offered for the first time in the fall of 1996.


As educators, we are constantly being told that increased international competitiveness has created a need for engineers with a better understanding of design methodology and concurrent engineering. Probably the most significant documentation of the need is contained in a National Research Council Report.1 Representatives of Boeing,2 Lockheed Martin,3 and McDonnell Douglas4 have also voiced strong opinions. To prepare engineers for careers in design requires not only learning about these specific topics, but an understanding of the broad context of the practice of engineering, experience in solving problems with realistic industrial constraints, and an awareness of the world of product development.

Listening to our customers, several departments at Virginia Tech have started to work together to establish a new practice-oriented master’s degree. Although our implementation is different, we are not the only school establishing this type of program. The national trend has been described recently in the ASEE Prism.5 We are aware of several other programs in Aerospace Engineering. MIT has established a Master’s degree for students who expect to become practicing aerospace engineers.6 Michigan and Cornell also have programs. In the case of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering, this type of degree was also recommended in a recent outside review of our graduate education program. The program fits within existing guidelines so that no new legislative approval is required. On an individual department basis the addition of many new courses within the available budget would have been impossible. By working together it became possible to add a small number, initially two, to the college program.

1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings

Grossman, B., & Mason, W. H. (1996, June), Virginia Tech's New Practice Oriented Aerospace Engineering Master's Degree Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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