Back to Home Page
College Home
University Home
Past Issues
Contact the Editor
Signatures Cover
Download PDF of this Issue
Changing Misconceptions about Engineering
Seeing the Big Picture
Talking Points
Taking Note
Making the Grade
Sharing Perspectives
Reaching Out
Staying in Touch
Changes in the Dean's Office Flying the Friendly Skies An ND First
New Titles and New Faces The Next Big Thing in Computers "Quilted" Circuits
Changing the Guard New ASME Fellow Top 25 Recognition
Instructor's Global Impact Inaugural Honor Professional Progress Award
Big Brother Biometrics Presidential Appointment Capturing Greenhouse Gases
New APS Fellow Magnetic Logic  

Flying the Friendly Skies

The U.S. aeronautics industry is one of the largest contributors to the nation’s balance of trade. For example, in the next 24 hours a single company in the industry (Boeing) will export $53 million of goods and services and transport more than 3 million passengers around the world.

President George Bush wants the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to return to the moon, build a permanent base there, and then begin steps to develop and launch a manned mission to Mars. NASA is also committed to flying the space shuttle through 2010, completing the international space station, and having a new space vehicle ready for flight by 2014. According to Thomas C. Corke, the Clark Equipment Professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Center for Flow Physics and Control and the Hessert Laboratory for Aerospace Research, that is quite a challenge considering that NASA’s aeronautics budget began to drop substantially two years ago. The Bush administration’s proposed 2007 budget would cut funding by another 18 percent, down more than $1 billion from 2004. Corke predicts that the cuts will not only affect the aviation industry and universities, who receive funding for aeronautics research, but it will also impact the nation’s status as an aviation leader and hurt the economy. “Aeronautics is the largest exporter in the country,” he said. “The total deficit due to exports in 2005 would have been 50 percent higher if it were not for the aircraft industry. Today, countries such as Japan and China are challenging America’s role as the global leader in aviation.”

Corke is very familiar with the challenge ahead. In 2006 he served on a National Academy of Engineering committee that discussed how the administration’s directives could affect U.S. aeronautics. Their report, which was issued in July and aimed at guiding aeronautics research over the next decade, called for renewed support of NASA’s aeronautics research and technology development programs. The committee also outlined several goals, including increasing the capacity of the air transportation system by 300 percent in the next decade while maintaining federal guidelines for noise limits on aircraft. Increased air traffic would affect regulations on aircraft spacing, tax existing airports and runway space, and require greater fuel economy, all of which would require new research to insure safety.

<< The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was launched in August 2005 and began transmitting images from low orbit in October 2006. Carrying the most powerful camera used on a planetary exploration mission, the Orbiter also features a sounder to find subsurface water and other instruments to detail the geology and structure of the planet.