The GT-AE Legacy of Success

The Daniel Guggenheim Building

For more than a decade, GT-AE has been ranked in the top 5 nationally for undergraduate and graduate aerospace programs by U.S. News and World Report. In 2022, those rankings placed AE's undergraduate and graduate programs at 1 and 4 respectively.

Other rankings have similarly lauded GT-AE's academic rigor, research, and commitment to the field. The School has earned this enviable position by maintaining a culture that elevates demanding coursework, inspirational teaching, meticulous scholarship, and ground-breaking research. These elements are deeply engrained in our history.

The Guggenheim legacy

That history took root on March 3, 1930 when a $300,000 grant from the Daniel Guggenheim Fund for the Promotion of Aeronautics, Inc., allowed Georgia Tech (then called the The Georgia School of Technology) to establish the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aeronautics.

The Guggenheim grant to Georgia Tech was the third largest of the seven grants made to establish centers for aeronautical research at seven institutions across the country. It was also the final grant made.

Of the total amount of the grant, $91,088 was for the cost of the present building, $41,829 was for equipment, apparatus, and general maintenance, and $150,213 was invested in endowment bonds. Under the provisions of a prior agreement with the State of Georgia, Fulton County, and the City of Atlanta, an additional $9,000, per year was furnished to maintain and operate a School of Aeronautics. It was then recommended that the income from the endowment (about $6,000 per year) be devoted to aeronautical research.

Housing the new Daniel Guggenheim School of Aeronautics was a critical first task.

The Guggenheim Building was completed in 1931 and dedicated on June 8 of that year. The first classes were held there in in September 1931, with 18 students, two faculty, and a budget of $10,000. The undergraduate curriculum was identical with Mechanical Engineering for the first two years, with six basic aeronautical courses offered during the junior and senior years.

The stated policy of the School was to maintain a fundamental engineering background while at the same time giving the students well-defined aeronautical training. In addition, the research was to be at least equal in importance to the other activities. In general, this policy has been retained over the years.

During these early years, only one-third to one-half of the Guggenheim endowment income was allotted to research. Instead of an annual budget of $35,000 only about one-third of this amount was actually made available. In fact, it was not until 1946 that the target annual budget of $35,000 was reached.

The equipment purchased and installed by the grant included a nine-foot wind tunnel complete with a six-component balance, a 2 1/2 foot instruction wind tunnel complete with a six- component balance, a wood and machine shop for the construction of models, and other special research apparatus. In addition, during the early years a PCA-2 300-HP autogiro was donated for flight research.

To better reflect the School's expanding interests and responsibilities beyond the field of aeronautics, its name was officially changed to the School of Aerospace Engineering effective July 1, 1962. This step was consistent with the changes made by other Guggenheim grantees throughout the United States.

The GT-AE history lives on in the Guggenheim Building, which  has 12,900 square-feet of classrooms, offices, and laboratories. In 1948 a temporary building having 5,000 square feet was erected to house the model shop and to provide additional laboratory space.

In 1957, a two-story, 3200 square-foot gas dynamics laboratory was constructed near the Guggenheim Building at a cost of approximately $40,000. Ten years later, when the temporary model shop building was torn down to make way for the Space Sciences and Technology Center Building No. 2, all three structures joined together  into a new enlarged facility, the Montgomery Knight Building, which was dedicated in 1968.