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About the AAU - A brief history

In October, 1997 Coventry University agreed to host a Department of Trade and Industry Foresight event to which many of the UK's universities either already involved, or interested in, aerospace research were invited. During lunch Dr John Barnes, an Honorary Life Fellow of Coventry University, suggested that it was timely for the university community to support the nation's aerospace industry as effectively as possible. In this respect, he described his work with an organisation called the Association of Colleges of Aerospace Technology (ACAT), and the numerous benefits that the creation of the group had brought to its members, suggesting that it could provide a model for other, like-minded, institutions of Higher Education. John kindly offered to nurture a fledgling organisation if others were interested. The Association of Aerospace Universities was thus born! and a small management committee was established. A mission statement and aims and objectives were decided upon and an action plan agreed to implement these.

One early goal was to participate in the UK's premier aerospace activity, the Farnborough Air Show. The AAU exhibited at Farnborough International 1998 (FI98) the theme which, coincidentally, was Youth and Careers in Aerospace and hence highly appropriate. In the event, not only did the AAU stand receive many enquires regarding aerospace courses offered by UK universities, but there was also a lot of interest from representatives of aerospace institutions who thought membership would be useful to them. The event seemed useful to both potential under- and post-graduates and swelled the membership, a success that was repeated at FI2000.

A two-year plan of AAU 'Conference Meetings' was launched early in which the host member university was given the opportunity to demonstrate their particular expertise and facilities in aerospace research. For example, in 1999, the University of Birmingham hosted a fascinating event demonstrating their unique materials research facilities, in particular their work for Rolls-Royce on the development of titanium alloys, and how this was integrated into their BEng and MEng courses in Metallurgy and Materials Science. It was clear from colleagues' comments at the time that few had known of Birmingham University's advanced capabilities on these technologies and, not only was the event a very enjoyable one, but it provided the opportunity for much overdue networking. Other such events have taken place and more are planned. Thus gives an excellent opportunity for the "host" to showcase their latest research and facilities.

The AAU has an excellent membership record incorporating both academic and industrial institutions. These links provide us with the very latest information on research, career paths within the aerospace industry. As an organisation we also support many initiatives designed to encourage young people into aerospace/engineering and aviation.

Photograph - Four men

From left to right: Prof. Mike West - President of the AAU, Dr. John Barnes - Founder President of the AAU, Terry Savage from MCB Publications and Ron Johnson for Coventry University.

Photograph - Exhibition stand

The Coventry University Flight Simulator on loan to the adjacent Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) stand at the Farnborough International Air Show 2000.

Photograph - Three men chatting

The founder president of the AAU Dr. John Barnes talking to the Rt. Hon. Secretary of State for Defence Geoff Hoon (left) and the Director General of the Society of British Aerospace Companies (SBAC) David Marshal (right)

Photograph - Two men shaking hands

Immediate Past President John Farley OBE (left) being congratulated by the AAU Chairman Dr Thurai Rahulan in the Sopwith Room at the Headquarters of the Royal Aeronautical Society in April 2009

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