Since the dawn of time, humans have dreamed of flying—a dream that finally became reality with the first flight in 1903. Ever since that moment, aerospace has evolved at warp speed into a field of study that is riper for invention and discovery.
Mississippi State University’s Department of Aerospace Engineering is keeping the dream alive by helping students explore new frontiers of flight through exposure to analytical simulation and experimental resources, including full-scale flight testing at MSU’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory—the largest university flight research facility in the U.S.
A University Tradition of Progress
Created by the Mississippi Legislature in 1878, Mississippi State University opened its doors in the City of Starkville in 1880 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi. Its beginning also included designation as a U.S. land-grant college, established by the Morrill Act of 1862, launching it as a comprehensive research university that has—to this day—addressed complex global challenges.
The institution received its first accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1926. In 1958, the Legislature renamed it Mississippi State University.
Today, Mississippi State provides a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs to students from all 50 states and 86 countries. Building on its land-grant tradition, MSU strategically extends its expertise throughout the state, region, nation—and globally—offering educational access not only on the main Starkville campus, but on its Meridian campus, through Extension services, Center for Distance Education, and numerous other centers and institutes.
The Full Aerospace Package
Under the leadership of Dr. Rani Sullivan, Head and Professor of Mississippi State’s Department of Aerospace Engineering, the university provides students with a comprehensive program of study that emphasizes an active learning protocol along with skills to conduct basic, applied, and interdisciplinary research. Major areas of study include aerodynamics, structural mechanics, controls, and autonomous systems.
Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering may concentrate on aeronautics, the study of aircraft that operate in Earth’s atmosphere; or astronautics, the study of spacecraft that operate outside Earth’s atmosphere. MSU also offers enriching graduate programs, including online learning, that lead to Master of Science degrees (thesis and non-thesis) and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.
The faculty’s externally funded research, supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, federal laboratories, and the aerospace industry, creates opportunities for graduate assistantships while enhancing MSU’s experimental and simulation capabilities.
Aerospace students benefit from experiential learning opportunities by participating in multi-disciplinary student design teams, co-operative education programs, summer industry internships, and undergraduate research programs. This supports MSU’s goal to produce highly skilled graduates with industry-relevant and research-relevant qualifications.
Innovating for the Future – Aerospace Research
Established in 1935, MSU’s Department of Aerospace Engineering has a rich heritage of educational leadership and innovative research involving aerodynamics, flight mechanics, and composite-structures technology.
Distinguished aerospace faculty were instrumental in establishing three major research centers at the university:
- Raspet Flight Research Laboratory (RFRL and an FAA Center of Excellence in Uncrewed Aircraft Systems)
- High-Performance Computing Collaboratory (HPCC)
- The Institute for Clean Energy Technology (ICET)
The first all-composite aircraft (XV-11A MARVEL) and the first experimental all-composite business jet (Honda MH-02) were designed, developed, and flight tested at MSU.
Examples of current research include:
- The development of multiscale and multi-physics models for high-speed aircraft to determine structural response, aerothermodynamics, and material degradation.
- Machine learning for spatial perception in unknown environments, blast energetics performance in hypersonic systems, and design and manufacture of advanced composites for aerospace applications.
Benefiting from close proximity to MSU’s technical workforce, aerospace industries such as Airbus Helicopters, Aurora Flight Sciences, and Stark Aerospace have located in the Golden Triangle region—collectively known as the Aerospace Corridor.
Offering Dynamic Aero-Tech Spaces
Mississippi State offers several activities that enable students to stay on top of technology trends, including participation in the August Raspet Student Chapter of the American Society for Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Many students also are members of multi-disciplinary, award-winning competition design teams: Space Cowboys (high-speed rocketry), Xipiter (uncrewed aircraft systems), and CubeSat MSU (space hardware).
The undergraduate curriculum concludes with a year-long senior capstone team project, allowing students an immersive research experience.
The department applies industry-relevant computational tools and processes in all aerospace courses to help graduates build computational competency. Students are provided with real-world professional experiences through internships, co-ops, and study-abroad programs.
Preparing Students to Thrive
Mississippi State equips students with the experiences and problem-solving skills they need for success in their careers and beyond. The university provides a dynamic student experience within an inviting campus and college town, where students of diverse interests and backgrounds can explore what excites them and build lasting memories.
Every student is unique, and MSU’s campus resources reflect this individualized perspective by offering a comprehensive range of programs, resources and services that help students successfully navigate their college careers and attain personal growth and development.
From counseling services and health and wellness programs to student leadership and community engagement resources to a robust veterans’ assistance network and a cultural diversity center, the MSU community is focused on ensuring that all students achieve their full potential.
Making an Impact Locally and Globally
Mississippi State has established a legacy of leadership on a variety of research fronts with significant local, state, national and global impacts.
Contributing to MSU’s worldwide reputation as a change maker is its research enterprise, which employs more than 4,000 research scientists and personnel, creating opportunities for spin-off and start-up companies, and attracting effective and strong private-sector and public partners in key industries.
MSU holds the R1 ‘Very High Research Activity’ designation from the Carnegie Foundation, as well as the ‘Innovation and Economic Prosperity University’ designation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, recognizing MSU’s work to advance engagement and economic well-being.
Also, the National Science Foundation recognizes MSU as the highest-ranked university in the state and a top 100 university nationally.
The university is well positioned to expand its role as an economic driver in the future, in large part because of the faculty’s preeminence in critical research focus areas like cybersecurity and advanced computing, uncrewed aircraft systems and aerospace, agriculture and natural resources, engineering and materials science, and automotive and mobility systems.
As home to the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish, funded by USAID, MSU supports the sustainable development of aquaculture and fisheries in developing countries. The university has also combined forces with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to eliminate starvation in developing countries.
Its Orion System is the nation’s fifth fastest academic supercomputer site, and MSU is one of only six universities in the nation to house a presidential library, the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library. MSU also is among the 10% of U.S. colleges and universities that shelter a Phi Beta Kappa chapter.
MSU serves as the national lead university for the FAA’s Center of Excellence for Uncrewed Aircraft Systems and is ranked sixth globally for its entrepreneurship research initiatives. MSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach has helped young entrepreneurs raise more than $1 million annually to launch around 100 new ventures through its Venture Catalyst Program.
Mississippi State is one of only a few schools in the U.S. to hold all three of the National Security Agency’s centers of academic excellence credentials: CAE Cyber Defense, CAE Cyber Research, and CAE Cyber Operations. MSU also leads the NSA-sponsored national CAE Cyber Operations Community of Practice and is recognized as a top 10 Military Friendly School by VIQTORY. In addition, the university leads the Department of Homeland Security’s Common UAS Test Site.
MSU’s National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision is the nation’s only federally funded center focused on employment outcomes for people with blindness or low vision.
Supporting Professional Development
MSU has always offered academic programs and research opportunities designed to equip its students with problem-solving skills not only to achieve success in their careers and in life, but to solve the globe’s most pressing challenges.
Beyond classroom instruction, the university strives to shape tomorrow’s leaders by providing more hands-on and real-world experiences. This places students in roles of responsibility. Through an empowering environment, students are encouraged to learn, create, and innovate.
Mentoring is another crucial activity that can make all the difference in helping students advance in their college and career journeys. In recent years, MSU has established an online network and mentorship platform, The Bulldog Connection, where recent graduates and alumni can seek mentorships, connect with industry peers, find job opportunities and access other helpful resources that facilitate personal and professional development.
Helping Aerospace and All Students Soar Higher
According to Dr. Sullivan, it is important for institutions to recognize that today’s students want an education that allows them to contribute to the world in meaningful ways. Aerospace missions and applications can fulfill that goal by providing opportunities to positively impact human life on earth.
“Our close-knit department emphasizes collegiality, integrity and ethics, professional skills, and leadership development of our students. We appreciate and value diversity in our community and encourage students to work hard in and out of the classroom. We encourage our students to aim for the BEST – then reach HIGHER,” she says.
More information on Mississippi State’s Aerospace Engineering program, contact Dr. Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org. More on admission to Mississippi State is available by emailing email@example.com and the university web address is www.msstate.edu.