Throughout its nearly 100-year history, the Department’s entire educational and research activities have been organized around advancing and teaching the essential elements of the aerospace enterprise, and especially the evolving engineering issues associated with air and space vehicles, vehicle systems, and their associated technologies. As we look ahead we can imagine what future innovations may bring — some of today’s science fiction will surely become fact. Commercial high-speed flight will become practical. Unmanned vehicles will become increasingly important, and in some cases their design may be inspired by biological flyers. Safe and quiet vertical flight may enable direct air travel into city centers. Satellite-based technologies will pervade our lives in ways we cannot yet imagine. While it is impossible to predict the precise future of the aerospace enterprise a decade or two from now,it is clear what changes a leading academic department must make to remain at the forefront of this field. In this document we envision the new challenges and opportunities that the aerospace engineers of tomorrow will face, and describe the key initiatives that we have put in place at Michigan to prepare our graduates and our research endeavors to succeed in this future.
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