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Marking its 100th year in 2014, the Department of Aerospace Engineering has been an integral part of the College's tradition of quality. It was borne out of the nation's first collegiate aeronautics program, begun at Michigan in 1914, just 11 years after the historic flights at Kitty Hawk. The first course was taught by Felix Pawlowski, who had been a student of Professor Lucien Marchis at the University of Paris in the first course in aeronautics given anywhere. In offering aeronautics at Michigan, Pawlowski was building on interest created by Professor Herbert Sadler. The grandnephew of Britain's first balloonist, Sadler had recently reorganized the Michigan Aero Club. Both Pawlowski and Sadler had seen the Wright brothers and other aviation pioneers at flying exhibitions, and the enthusiasm of these two teachers would be the driving force behind aeronautics during its first years at Michigan.

The early years of the Department of Aerospace Technology were filled with daring experimentation in balloons, gliders and, when available, powered airplanes, including a model "B" hydroplane built by the Wright brothers. These experiments in flight, the research on airplane designs and the basic course work were all marked by camaraderie and a shared commitment to expanding the knowledge in and the possibilities of this exciting new field. The Department grew quickly in scope, enrollment and stature. Graduates of the program distinguished themselves as pilots, designers, industry leaders and as officials in the new government agencies established to promote and regulate aviation.

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