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CC, AFA Collaboration Soars with Mellon Grant

A $6,000 Mellon Foundation grant continues to strengthen the collaboration between Colorado College and the United States Air Force Academy, as it will fund a variety of activities between students at both institutions involved in a CC course titled The Physics and Meaning of Flight.

A $6,000 Mellon Foundation grant continues to strengthen the collaboration between Colorado College and the United States Air Force Academy, as it will fund a variety of activities between students at both institutions involved in a CC course titled The Physics and Meaning of Flight.

The Block 4 course begins Nov. 26 and is taught by Randy Stiles, a former senior military professor at the Air Force Academy and currently special advisor to CC President Jill Tiefenthaler. The course highlights the intersection of coursework at the two institutions, covering such diverse topics as aerodynamics, airfoils and wings, and space flight trajectories, as well as historical perspectives of flight, flight and the arts, flight and warfare, and the economics of flight.

Says Stiles, “I’m taking a STEM class (science, technology, engineering, and math) and making it a STEAM class (science, technology, engineering, ARTS, and math).  It’s a STEM class with a liberal arts flavor and will include many very rich electronic and online resources from the academy, NASA, and more.”  Additionally, Phil Condit, former Boeing CEO and CC parent, will be a guest lecturer, bringing a business perspective to the class.

Although only CC students will be taking the course, they will have several opportunities to interact with the cadets. Cadets enrolled in the USAFA Scholars program and Fundamental of Aeronautics course will lead the CC students through an airfoil lab in the academy’s aeronautics laboratory wind tunnels, perhaps the best of their kind in the country. (The cadets worked through the lab earlier this semester). Together both groups of students will visit Peterson Air Force Base and Space Command Headquarters, where they will learn about space missions, including the GPS satellite program.

Additional collaborative efforts prompted by the Mellon grant include a joint CC student/cadet bus tour of various display aircraft to learn about performance and design features, and a Sunday pizza gathering between the CC class and cadets. The group also is planning on a joint visit to the Gimbel Aeronautical Library and Collection at the USAFA McDermott Library, where among other items they hope to view original letters from the Wright Brothers

That activity makes Stiles' CC course offering especially fitting in other ways as well: Will Wright, grandnephew of the Wilbur Wright, taught in the CC physics department from circa 1958 until his retirement in 1986. Additionally, next year is the 110th anniversary of the first manned flight by the Wright brothers.