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Aeronautics, Undergraduate Studies

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication/Presentation Date



In 2007, the Committee on Meeting the Workforce Needs for the National Vision for Space Exploration published findings related to age and skills of the current National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) workforce and projected potential expertise shortages as a result of retirement in the 2014-2015 time frame. In addition, the expanding commercial space industry in both the United States and Europe will likely create further demand for space experts in engineering and a variety of related fields. Although NASA contributes $162 million in funding for education programs annually, those programs target kindergarten through grade 12, not collegiate-level programs. Further, few aeronautical/aerospace departments focused on education related to the development of space technologies, a discipline known as astronautics, exist in the US. In 2009, Doule and Peeters, Professors at the International Space University, sought to determine the need for space-focused knowledge and skills to support the European Union (EU) space industry. The results of Doule and Peeters' 2009 survey indicate an EU desire for space-specific educational programs to meet the needs of their commercial space industry. The researchers called for additional quantitative and qualitative studies to assess the emerging EU space industry workforce requirements and how to adapt space education and training curriculum. The purpose of this study is to develop a proactive model to assist U.S. educational institutions meet the projected U.S. space industry human resource needs. Findings from the proposed mixed-methods research program are to identify current and anticipated knowledge areas and associated skill sets within the U.S. space industry, and sub-industry aspects, to guide future collegiate-level curriculum development. Results from presented findings will be used toward a partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) for use in informed managerial decision-making of current/forecasted U.S. space industry human resource dynamics.


San Diego, CA

Number of Pages


Required Publisher’s Statement

McMullen, S.A.H., McMullen, M.J., and Witcher, K.L. (2013). Exploring current and projected skills and knowledge areas to meet U.S. commercial space industry needs. AIAA Space 2013 Conference and Exposition, September 10-12, San Diego, CA.

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Engineering Commons