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Advancing the efficiency of flight is just one way the University Leadership Initiative aims to make an impact. The ULI will also provide professional development and educational outreach opportunities. Education and outreach activities will cover the entire pipeline of workforce development – from elementary through graduate school – to prepare students for degrees and careers in aerospace engineering disciplines.  This objective will be carried out through several initiatives, including research assistantships, summer research experiences, classroom visits and a workforce development symposium.

The ULI seeks to contribute to the development of the next generation of researchers and engineers by engaging students in research and educational outreach activities.

The ULI seeks to contribute to the development of the next generation of researchers and engineers by engaging students in research and educational outreach activities.

Research assistants

Students at the six partner universities will be engaged in every step of research: from developing the necessary methodologies, to carrying out simulations and testing, to finally demonstrating the capstone technology.  Research assistants will gain hands-on experience working under the guidance of faculty and industry leaders.  Assistants will primarily target Masters and Doctoral students.

Research Interns working

Hector Ortiz-Melendez (UTK) and Tristan Wall (UTK) review the literature for high-lift systems

Research experiences

Undergraduate students will also participate in research activities through ULI funding.  The University of Tennessee at Knoxville will host students as part of the Tickle College of Engineering’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program.  UTK works in partnership with the Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (TLSAMP) program to recruit students from underrepresented groups to participate in SURE.  ULI investigators will guide students through a summer-long research project.  The opportunity will provide students with research experience and help prepare them for graduate school.

Summer 2018 REU Students

The University of Tennessee hosted three REUs during Summer 2018 as part of the ULI: Suchitha Nama (PSU), Michelle McNamara (UTK), Melissa Karman (UTK)


Each year, the ULI will fund a student from one of the consortium universities to complete an internship at Boeing’s research and manufacturing facilities.  The student will participate in applied research and gain firsthand professional experience and contacts in the aviation industry.

Boeing Internship

Hector D. Ortiz-Melendez (UTK) at Boeing, Huntington Beach as part of a ULI-sponsored internship.

Educational outreach

The ULI team will develop educational modules covering the revolutionary and transformative aircraft concepts addressed through project research.  These modules will be adapted for different age groups in the K-12 range.  ULI students will work with schools in their communities to present these modules through classroom visits, workshops and educational fairs.  ULI will also partner with engineering societies and diversity advancement groups to build on and expand outreach efforts.  These modules and other education materials will be made available to the public through the ULI website and the Tau Beta Pi MindSET website.


Area high school students learn about next-generation aircraft concepts during Engineers Day 2018 at the UT Knoxville.

Undergraduate curriculum

As part of the ULI’s outreach efforts, the team will develop educational modules for the undergraduate level.  The material will be integrated into existing undergraduate curriculum and cover aircraft concepts in greater depth than the K-12 modules.  This initiative will be carried out at each of the ULI partner universities.  Modules for undergraduate curriculum will also be available on the ULI website.


ULI Co-PI Stephanie TerMaath (UTK) presents an education module on 3D printing and wind tunnel testing to an AE 201 class at UT Knoxville.

Workforce development symposium

A workforce development symposium will be held at UTK each year of the project.  The symposium will bring together faculty and students from the ULI consortium.  The event will also be promoted across the UT student community to broaden participation.  Boeing and other partners will provide professional development and networking.  It will also be an opportunity for ULI students to present their research and receive feedback from peers and experts.

UTK Aviataion Symposium

John Cavolowsky, Director of Transformative Aeronautics Concepts at NASA ARMD, presents on the challenges and opportunities of aviation during the 2018 Future of Aviation symposium at UT Knoxville.

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