Established in 1929, the department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Cincinnati was the second-ever school of aeronautical engineering founded in the country.

Bradley Jones in the classroom.

Bradley Jones in the classroom.

For the past 84 years, the University of Cincinnati’s aerospace engineering program has stood at the cutting edge of aeronautical engineering, leading the way in jet propulsion research and development. The program was originally established in 1929 by Bradley Jones, an inventor and flight navigator who was most famously known for his record nonstop flight from McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio to East Boston Airport in Boston, Mass.

Under the guidance of Jones, and with the consultation of legendary flight navigator Orville Wright, a five-year program of study, with the first cooperative education experience within an aeronautical program, was developed. And despite the crumbling economy due to the effects of the Great Depression, UC’s program flourished.

Years later, and quite serendipitously, while on assignment to work with the U.S. Army Engineering Division Laboratory to test high temperature alloy materials developed by a contractor for use in the nozzle of the Saturn V rocket, a professor by the name of Widen Tabakoff, PhD, forged a relationship with the University of Cincinnati that would continue for more than 50 years.

Widen Tabakoff, PhD headshot

Widen Tabakoff, PhD

Under the leadership of Dr. Tabakoff, the Aerospace program at the University of Cincinnati skyrocketed. He started a strong externally-funded research program that still continues today, and as head of UC's Center of Excellence in Propulsion, he also secured millions of federal funding and built the propulsion and gas dynamics laboratories and infrastructure.

Through Dr. Tabakoff’s collaboration with colleagues in astronomy, mathematics and physics, graduate studies in aerospace engineering were also established.

The mental agility and prowess which this rigorous program commanded earned attention from world-renowned aviators, scientists, and innovators alike,  including one of UC’s most famous faculty members Neil Armstrong, who taught at UC from 1971 until 1979, as well as from companies like General Electric Aircraft Engines in Evendale, Ohio.

Thanks to Dr. Tabakoff, and due to the cultivation of a special degree program specifically designed for employees of GE in conjunction with the co-op program called the Advanced Course in Engineering (ACE), thousands of advanced degrees have since been earned.

On June 6, 2015, Dr. Tabakoff passed away at the age of 95.