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A New Frontier: Astronautics and Space Technology Division

November 12, 2004 —
In order to position the USC Viterbi School of Engineering to take full advantage of rapidly growing opportunities in space, Dean C. L. Max Nikias in August announced the creation of a new Astronautics and Space Technology Division (ASTD). 
“Following the drastic funding cutbacks in the early 1990s, space technology and astronautics has recently re-emerged as an important sector of economic and engineering activity not only in the Southern California economy but also in the nation as a whole,” he said.  “Both defense applications and space exploration projects are driving this resurgence.  However, recent congressional studies have warned of a looming shortage of engineers in this area.”
The dean appointed Professor Mike Gruntman as chair of the division.  Other faculty are Professor Joseph Kunc and Professor Daniel Erwin.  All three will continue to have courtesy appointments in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.  Secondary ASTD appointments went to Professor Stan Settles and Joseph Sullivan and Peter Will, from the Information Sciences Institute (ISI).
ASTD will be solely responsible for all research and degree programs in astronautics and space technology.  It will offer a program in astronautics and space technology concentrating on meeting the educational and research needs of interest to the space and defense industries and has already taken responsibility for 24 courses to formerly in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.
The new division will function as an independent academic unit within the USC Viterbi School similar to a department.  It will be governed by the same rules and policies and the division chair will report directly to the dean.  Like departments, the division will establish an advisory board with members from industry, government laboratories and academia.

“For more than a year, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering with strong support from ISI has been engaged in a carefully orchestrated effort to secure major funding in space technology,” said Nikias.  “I expect the creation of the new division will help bring these efforts to fruition and expect the continuing close collaboration with ISI”