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In 1947, Willow Run Airport, 15 miles east of Ann Arbor and site of the World War II Liberator Bomber Plant, was deeded to the University of Michigan.  A plan was devised for leasing the airport field and hanger facilities to the airlines to serve as the Detroit airport, while retaining space for a new and enlarged postwar program of aeronautical instruction and research.  At the same time, through the U of M Department of Engineering Research, a contract, known as the Wizard Project, was negotiated with the Air Material Command for an engineering study of a defensive guided missile.  To house this project and provide the necessary laboratory facilities, the Aeronautical Research Center was developed at Willow Run Airport.  Another project, initiated by the Signal Corps, involved the measurement of atmospheric temperatures up to 60 miles altitude, as well as the determination of whether there existed diffusive separation of different types of upper air molecules.  The research for this project was performed by a newly created High Altitude Engineering Laboratory in the Department of Aeronautical Engineering, directed by Professor Myron H. Nichols and located, together with other department facilities, in East Engineering Building on the main U of M campus.

In 1949-50 the newly created US Air Force, realizing that their officers had received no academic training in the emerging technology of guided missiles, established two-year graduate training programs in guided missiles in the aeronautical engineering departments at both MIT and the University of Michigan.  The US Air Force paid double outstate tuition for officers enrolled in the U of M program.  Approximately a decade later the designated program name was changed from guided missiles to astronautics.  Upwards of 50 US Air Force officers were enrolled annually in the program, which also attracted substantial numbers of post-graduate students from both the US Army and US Navy, along with 4 RCAF officers annually from the Canadian Air Force. The importance of this program to the Aeronautical Engineering Department of the University of Michigan was dramatic.  Not only did it increase the overall graduate student enrollment in the department by a large factor, but it resulted in the inauguration of new graduate courses in guidance and control of missiles, dynamics of linear and nonlinear systems, and ran-dom processes.  To help staff these courses, Lawrence L. Rauch in 1949 and Robert M. Howe in 1950, with PhD's in applied mathematics and physics, respectively, were added to the department faculty.  Professor Myron Nichols served as the initial director of the USAF Guided Missiles Program at U of M.  The military students graduated from the guided missiles training program with two master's degrees, one in aeronautical engineer-ing and the other in instrumentation engineering, later designated information and control engineering.  In addition to the USAF students, US Army, US Navy, RCAF and other foreign air force officers were sent to the U of M for graduate studies in the guided missiles  program.  The courses originated by the program were also elected by civilian graduate students, and during the 1950's and 1960's an ever increasing number of MSE and PhD degrees in instrumentation engineering were awarded to non-military students.

In addition to the lecture courses, the teaching program in instrumentation engineer-ing included laboratory activities, with a strong emphasis on real-time simulation using departmental analog computer facilities.  The development of these facilities, which were also an important part of research projects on flight simulation, began as part of the Wizard Project described above in the second paragraph and continued into the 1960's.   As a side note, the department expertise in analog computers and real-time simulation led in 1957 to the founding, by several faculty members, of Applied Dynamics Incorporated.  This well known company developed and marketed analog computers, emphasizing their engineering application to real-time simulation.  The company continues to the present as Applied Dynamics International, marketing real-time simulation systems utilizing digital hardware and software. 

Starting in 1957 a number of faculty members in addition to the three named above with non-traditional aeronautical background and interests were added to the aeronautical engineering department, including Frederick J. Beutler, Donald T. Greenwood, Edward O. Gilbert, Elmer G. Gilbert and William L. Root.  In 1968 the graduate program in Information and Control Engineering was succeeded by the broader inter-departmental graduate program Computer, Information and Control Engineering, with Lawrence L. Rauch as the first chairman.  Also, new aero faculty were added in the areas of dynamics and control, including Harris McClamroch, William Powers and N. X. Vinh, with the departmental name now changed to aerospace engineering.  In 1984, with the reorganization of the Department of Electrical Engineering into the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the interdepartmental program Computer, Information and Control Engineering was dissolved, with the aerospace engineering faculty members participating in it returning to full-time teaching in the Aerospace Engineering Department.   

The University of Michigan

Guided Missile Technology