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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited
News from the AAU
Keywords: Aerospace, Education
The main aim of the AAU is to promote higher education's support for UK aerospace industry and commerce.
In recent years, moves towards the successful forming of the Association of Aerospace Universities (AAU) have been in progress. It had long been seen, from the demise of many important aeronautical working parties, that insufficient conformal advice was being made available from the UK aerospace higher education sector. Academia, Government and industry needed to have better networking.
Weaknesses in specialist subjects and staff development were perceived, together with a need to increase liaison and goodwill between institutions. Barriers have steadily increased in the UK higher education sector since the introduction of politically motivated inter-institutional competition in education. This was seen to be a way of increasing quality of provision with the chance for some of increased funding, in a scene of diminishing physical resources but vastly increasing bureaucracy. The consequence has not been altogether satisfactory and has caused a serious decrease in university and college co-operation with UK industry. Such a divisive situation is detrimental to UK industry and commerce, as well as higher (and further) education.
In February 1997 the SBAC held an Aerospace Academia Forum at Coventry University. This was to explore ways the universities could help the UK Aerospace Foresight Technology initiative, and hence the UK industrial decline. This prompted the setting up of an exploratory meeting of universities interested in forming an Association of Aerospace Universities. Those participating at this meeting, hosted at Kingston University, were: Bath, Birmingham, UWE Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow Hertfordshire, Kingston and Oxford.
Following this were a series of planning meetings resulting in the formal initiation of the AAU.
Since then the membership of the AAU has risen steadily and now stands at 19 universities and five associate members. These are: Birmingham; Bristol; Cambridge; City (London); Coventry; DeMontfort (Leicester); Farnborough; Glasgow; Hertfordshire; Imperial College of Science and Medicine Kingston; N Liverpool; London Guildhall; Nottingham; Oxford; Swansea; Queens (Belfast); UMIST (Manchester); and UWE (Bristol).
The associate members are: DERA (Aerospace); Merlin Flight Simulators; Rutherford Appleton Laboratory; Rolls-Royce (Aero Div); and MCB University Press (Aircraft Engineering & Aerospace Technology).
In 1998 and 2000, the AAU had very successful stands at Farnborough International. Attendance at the AAU stand by senior aerospace personnel and others was appreciable, and exchanges were impressive, constructive and helpful. The co-operation with the SBAC/RAeS Careers in Aerospace Initiative at these Farnborough shows also brought many potential and existing, aerospace students to the stand. The AAU also works in conjunction with The Association of Colleges of Aerospace Technology in respect of a much needed plethora of I.Eng. aerospace courses.
Four editions of "News from the AAU" have been published so far in Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology: An International Journal, together with several technical and educational papers. The publisher, MCB University Press, is the "press" member of AAU. The news items illustrate the excellent quality of the bi-annual, two-day conferences which have been held mainly at major universities. It is intended to also have meetings at major institutions such as those of associate members.
The present form of networking is to be enhanced by the formation of specialist subject groups in aerodynamics and propulsion, flight simulation and control, materials science and manufacture, and aerospace design and operation.
There will be a major launch of the AAU next July 2001 in Bristol, a UK centre of aerospace activity and expertise.
Details of the date, venue and programme will be available shortly. A Web site is being established which will be ready for this launch and will give further details of the work and provision of AAU members.