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UHCL and NASA, partnered for more than 43 years

The University of Houston-Clear Lake and NASA Johnson Space Center united in 1965 to provide degrees in higher education closer to JSC.

"The university was created in response to a request by then director of the NASA Johnson Space Center, Robert Gilruth, to offer educational opportunities for the new and exciting ‘field’ of space exploration," said William Staples, UHCL president.

Originally the university started off with just 50 acres under the name Clear Lake Graduate Center. In 1968, the Friendswood Development Corporation donated 487 acres, allowing the university to expand and recruit more students. In 1973, classes started for the graduate center and there was one building on campus, now called the Arbor Building. In 1974, the second part of the campus opened for undergraduate and graduate-level students.

"NASA Johnson Space Center and University of Houston-Clear Lake have a long-standing relationship," Staples said. "The university continues to look at ways we can benefit our neighboring space-related industry."

Throughout the years, several space-related programs and courses have been established at the university. These programs are meant to give students the knowledge of what it takes to work in the aerospace field.

"It is also true that many of the university’s academic programs are designed to meet the needs of NASA and aerospace contractors," Staples said. "Examples of these programs include computer engineering, software engineering, systems engineering, engineering management, physics and biotechnology."

Staples pointed out that by having this relationship with JSC, the university is now able to provide courses such as space physics, mathematical modeling and computing systems.

"It also led us to introduce the first courses in the design of micro-processor-based applications in Texas," Staples said. "Other key partnerships with NASA Johnson Space Center included the creation of the High Technologies Laboratory at University of Houston-Clear Lake and the Research Institute for Computing and Information Systems."

UHCL maintains its long-standing relationship with JSC. The university received the JSC History Collection in fall 2001 and spring 2002. This collection of documents has around 1.5 million recordings on each manned spaceflight program. It is displayed for the public at the UHCL Archives. There are also documents and books provided in the Alfred R. Neumann Library.

"The UHCL Archives have enjoyed a very productive partnership since 2001, in which we house and provide access to the historical records of NASA Johnson Space Center," said Shelly Kelly, library archivist. "We are able to help not only NASA contractors and civil servants planning for our return to the moon, but also Ph.D. scholars, authors, Smithsonian curators, aerospace historians, television producers and aerospace hobbyists."

UHCL and JSC have grown together throughout the years and both institutions have continued contributing to the space program.

"We’re proud to have such a strong history with NASA and look forward to being part of its future," Staples said.


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