September 13, 2006 — The University of Utah College of Engineering today announced a $100,000 gift from Alliant Techsystems (ATK) with the hopes it will help inspire more engineering students to pursue degrees in the aerospace industry.
The donation will be used for equipment, technology infrastructure and furnishings in the $30 million John E. and Marva M. Warnock Engineering Building. In addition, ATK’s name will be displayed in the building”s east vestibule area and the company will develop an exhibit on rocket propulsion advances to be housed in the Edwin E. Catmull Engineering Showcase. When completed later this year, the 100,000 square-foot Warnock Engineering Building will provide the academic hub for the nearly 3,500 engineering students, faculty and staff members at the University of Utah, as well as a gathering space for visitors and the community.
According to Richard B. Brown, dean of the College of Engineering, “ATK is an important corporate partner. Their involvement in the college, which spans decades, has made a significant difference in the quality of engineering education at the U. ATK’s recent gift will help to ensure the U’s first new engineering building in more than 45 years will be appropriately equipped, wired and furnished.”
ATK, along with aerospace companies and NASA, is feeling the pains of an aging workforce. At the dawn of the Apollo era, when space exploration was a big excitement among the youth, many sought degrees in engineering, math, and science. Those expert engineers and scientists are now at retirement age, leaving a huge shortage of expertise with no one to replace them.
In much of the aerospace industry, employees are required to be U.S. citizens. Today America graduates fewer than 70,000 engineers annually. In contrast, Japan, India and China graduate more than 700,000 engineers.
“Our goal with this donation is that more students will become excited about the space industry,” said Ron Dittemore, ATK Launch Systems president. “Our hope is that those students will be the next generation of engineers and scientists who will maintain and enhance our technological prowess, create new inventions and make new scientific breakthroughs to help America on our new space exploration journey.”
The nation’s vision for space exploration-returning to the moon, Mars, and beyond-has charted a new course for NASA, and created a new path for the next generation of aerospace engineers. With ATK Launch Systems playing a lead role in that vision, the display in the Warnock Engineering Building will give U students a sense of pride knowing they are part of a community that is creating a new legacy of space exploration.
The Utah-based company is right in the middle of future space efforts with its continuing role supplying Reusable Solid Rocket Motors (RSRM) for the space shuttle, and as prime contractor for the first stage of the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle. Early in the next decade Ares I will replace the space shuttle in transportation of crews to and from the International Space Station, return humans to the moon by 2020, and ultimately launch astronauts to Mars.
“We are truly honored to be a part of a new era in space exploration,” said Dittemore. “We hope many of the students at the University of Utah will also want to join the nation on this amazing journey and explore careers in the aerospace industry.”