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NASA donates jet engine

Students surround a jet engine from a T-38 jet trainer that NASA donated to the College of Engineering for teaching purposes. The jet engine will be used as a teaching tool for a propulsion course in mechanical engineering.

Students and visitors to the College of Engineering have a reason to stop and stare: a jet engine from NASA currently on display near Student Services in Lafferre Hall.

The jet engine inside Lafferre Hall is from a T-38 jet trainer.

Steve Nagel, a former astronaut who now teaches in the College of Engineering and works as a retention specialist, coordinated the acquisition of the engine. He had already been in touch with people he knew from his time at NASA about getting scrap parts for a propulsion course he teaches. Then they offered a complete jet engine.

“That engine is just a bunch of scrap parts that were going to be thrown out,” Nagel said. “This is a good use of them in the educational environment.”

The jet engine on display in Lafferre Hall came from a T-38 jet trainer, such as this one from NASA Dryden in California. Wikimedia photo

The engine is from a T-38 jet trainer, which astronauts fly for training. Nagel’s last 15 years at NASA were spent in the Aircraft Operations Division where he worked as a research pilot. During his career at NASA, Nagel flew four space missions and spent a total of 732 hours in space.

NASA also cut windows into the side of the engine so the inner workings are visible. Nagel said he thinks the jet engine and other scrap parts he’s gotten will be good tools for students.

“When you’re teaching a theoretical class, it’s good to have not just pictures but something physical like this that you can look at or pass around,” Nagel said. “I think it really helps someone to visualize the theory.”



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