University of Cincinnati announces Neil Armstrong Space Science Institute

First man on the moon taught there in 1970s

CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati announced the Neil Armstrong Space Science Institute and an important research partnership with NASA on Wednesday in honor of the first man on the moon and former UC professor.

With Armstrong’s wife, two sons and grandson on hand, UC President Santa Ono laid out plans to continue the astronaut’s legacy in space and at the university, where he taught aeronautical engineering for eight years after retiring from NASA.

The Neil Armstrong Space Science Institute will promote space-based research and studies in partnership with NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.

UC’s tribute to Armstrong also includes:

• An on-campus exhibit
• A bas-relief honoring Armstrong for Rhodes Hall
• A website celebrating Armstrong’s career at
• A new award and scholarship in his honor

See photos and video at

Mark Armstrong, who was 6 when he watched his dad step on the moon in 1969 with the famous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” said he was happy that UC would promote space research in his father’s name.

“We are very honored that the university has taken the time to put together a very nice gallery in remembrance of Dad and his involvement at UC as a teacher … But I have to say that I’m even more excited about the Neil Armstrong Space Science Institute and the possible synergies that can exist between the university and NASA and what that can do in terms of providing opportunities to students for being innovative in the future,” Mark Armstrong said.

The Neil Armstrong Space Science Institute will include three components:

• Promoting space-based research in labs between faculty, students and NASA;
• Leading education related to space science and engineering and  encouraging students to pursue degrees in those areas;
• Managing and preserving space-related research data.

By entering a Space Act Agreement with NASA’s Ames Research Center, UC cleared the way for collaboration between its researchers and NASA experts and gained access to the advanced facilities at the California center. 

“We already have our first cooperative education student going to NASA’s Ames Research Center to work on the first project. This will open up new opportunities for many students to follow,” UC Vice President for Research William Ball said.

UC’s first focus will be on research involving Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and providing safe and secure integration of UAVs in the National Airspace System.

“During the past two decades, unmanned aerial vehicles have proved themselves to be extremely capable for military applications,” said Teik Lim, interim dean of UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science. “We also have aerospace faculty who have worked on UAV research for a number of years and developed prototypes that are being geared toward firefighting, seek-and-rescue missions and other non-military applications.”

In time, UC’s role will cut across multiple disciplines and colleges, including Intelligent Systems and Structures; Nanomedicine and Biomedicine; Environment and Sustainability; and Analytics and Cyber Security.

UC officials expect all four areas of collaboration to be up and running within five years.

With the SAA, the potential for increased federal funding is “extremely strengthened,” Ball pointed out.

Armstrong taught at UC from 1971 to 1979. He lived on his farm in Lebanon and later moved to Indian Hill.

Armstrong died in 2012.

"Although Neil Armstrong was a private and unassuming hero who preferred not to be in the spotlight, the University of Cincinnati community wanted to do something to honor his memory and his achievements,” said Ono. “We wanted to do it in a way that takes into account how we at the University of Cincinnati knew him best — as a teacher and an engineer, as a pilot and astronaut.

An exhibit titled “Neil Armstrong: The Life and Flight of a Reluctant Hero” will be on display through Nov. 27 in UC’s Philip M. Meyers Jr. Memorial Gallery in the Steger Student Life Center. It features artifacts donated to UC by the Armstrong family, including a space mask and plaques awarded to Armstrong.  The free exhibit is open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A life-size bas-relief plaque depicting Armstrong is on display in the gallery before it is permanently installed in the entrance to UC’s Rhodes Hall, through which he passed each morning. The plaque, sculpted by local artist John Leon, is a gift of the class of 2013.

The Neil Armstrong UC Forward Innovation Award will be given to a team of outstanding students whose work creates transformative inventions, innovations or solutions with exemplary teamwork.

A new scholarship in Armstrong’s honor is  open to incoming

undergraduate students in the aerospace engineering program. It is funded by aerospace engineering graduates, some of whom were taught by Armstrong in the 1970s.

“The thing we hear a lot from people is the inspirational quality that they got from something Dad did,” said Rick Armstrong, the astronaut’s other son. “For so many of those people, when you look at what they have done, it is really impressive. When I think of what his legacy is, that’s what I think about. What I see in what the university is doing here is that it is just a logical natural extension of hoping to continue to provide that inspirational value for people to go on and do their own great things.”

Watch Armstrong step onto the moon in the player below or go to

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