Before 1949, aeronautics research and instruction at the University of Maryland were limited in scope and were carried out by but a few dedicated individuals—most notably Professor John Younger of the mechanical engineering department. Younger shared a similar vision to that of Glenn L. Martin—that is, that commercial passenger flight on a large scale would soon become a reality.

1949 Aerospace Sciences Becomes an Independent Discipline

In fall of 1949, the aeronautical sciences option was separated as a discipline from the mechanical engineering department.

A. Wiley Sherwood was chosen as chair of the new department, beginning what is commonly referred to within the department as the Sherwood Era. During these formative years, most of the department's activity was focused on developing a quality undergraduate curriculum in aeronautical engineering.

A. Wiley Sherwood

With the launch of Russia's Sputnik in 1957, the department, along with the rest of the nation, took a keen interest in aerospace flight. The name of the department was changed from aeronautical engineering to aerospace engineering that same year.

To support instruction in the course work necessary for an aerospace engineering degree, Sherwood used lecturers and faculty from the nearby Naval Ordnance Laboratory and the Institute for Fluid Dynamics.

During those years, the emphasis was on teaching. Professor Gerald Corning taught leading edge courses in aircraft design and was the author of a number of nationally used texts in subsonic and supersonic aircraft design. The newly-constructed and self-supported Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel, under the direction of Donald Gross, was widely used in service testing by the automotive and aviation industries.

One of the most significant accomplishments during this time was the establishment of the master's and doctoral degree programs in aerospace engineering. This led to the department's first master's degree graduate, Dale Scott '50 (deceased). After graduation, Scott went on to a successful engineering career at the Martin Aircraft Co., NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and later as a private consultant. The first doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering were awarded in 1963 to Irvin Pollin and John Nutant.

Aerospace Engineering Headlines from the Diamondback, the University of Maryland student newspaper

March 3, 1939 Professor John Younger of Mechanical Engineering Receives Aeronautic Award
March 24, 1939 Flying Course Here Seen As Possibility by Dean Steinberg
September 19, 1939 Maryland Gets CAA Air Course
October 17, 1939 Forty-One Take Aviation Course Offered By CAA
November 7, 1939 CAA Aviation Students Start Flight lessons


March 15, 1940 Engineers Conduct Study of Airplanes
March 29, 1940 Professor John Younger Predicts Great Aviation Future
October 1, 1940 Professor John Younger Begins Aero Experiments
February 25, 1941 Professor Younger Receives Asme "Spirit of St. Louis" Gold Medal for Great Service to Aviation
September 19, 1947 Glenn L. Martin Engineering Building Plans Revealed to Public
January 13, 1948 Glenn L. Martin Engineering School Building Plans Go To Board
February 25, 1949 Four Engineering Buildings Cost $2,700,279.48, New Figures Show
March 4, 1949 Wind Tunnel Opening Slated For April
April 29, 1949 Martin College Occupied
May 20, 1949 Wind Tunnel Starts Operation
September 22, 1949 Aerospace Engineers Now In New Home


March 3, 1950 Pines, Oaks, Shrubs Planted on Martin College Mud Flats
March 7, 1950 Glenn L. Martin Institute of Technology Expands Into $8,000,000 Building Project
April 1, 1952 Engineering College Conducts Tests on Modern Aircraft


April 19, 1963 Outer Space expands Aerospace Engineering
May 4, 1966 Wind Tunnel Assists Experimentation


1977-78 First Full Year of Operation of Wind Tunnel as part of the Department of Aerospace Engineering
1982 Center for Rotorcraft Education and Research is founded
1987 Composites Research Laboratory is founded
1990 Space Systems Laboratory is founded
1992 Composites Research Laboratory moves to a new 5000-square-foot facility in the Manufacturing Building
1994 NASA Center for Excellence in Hypersonics created
1994 Ranger, a four-armed NASA satellite repair robot is rolled out for display
1995 Smart Structures Laboratory created in the J.M. Patterson Building
1996 Rotorcraft Center and Hypersonics Center moved to J.M. Patterson Building
1997 Flight Dynamics and Control Laboratory founded in the Glenn L. Martin Wind Tunnel Building
1997 Undergraduate students control SAMPEX satellite orbit and attitude determination
1998  Acoustic chamber built for rotorcraft acoustics research
1998 Department's graduate programs are ranked 10th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report
1999 Meyers Building undergoes renovation to house aerospace research activities