NASHVILLE - The Tullahoma-based University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) is celebrating its 50th anniversary of its founding next week.
The graduate education and research facility was founded in 1964 to support Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC) and the nearby Arnold Air Force Base. AEDC is the most advanced and largest complex of flight simulation test facilities in the world.
Officials say they plan to celebrate the "golden jubilee" with two days of events including tours, entertainment, fireworks, food and fun. Events kick off with a run/walk on Thursday.
"Our graduates stand as a testament to our contributions to both aerospace and the defense of the country," said Robert Moore, executive director of UTSI, in a news release. "We're also focused on making scientific and technical advances, not only in issues surrounding flight but in the automotive industry as well."
UTSI offers graduate training in industrial and systems engineering with an engineering management concentration; engineering science with a flight test engineering concentration; mechanical, aerospace and biomedical engineering; and physics.
The next commander of the International Space Station, NASA's Barry Wilmore, is one of nine astronauts who are UTSI graduates.
"The primary mission of the institute is to help AEDC to maintain state-of-the-art expertise in both technical and managerial ranks," Moore said. "We've had more than 500 AEDC employees earn graduate degrees here, and more than 2,200 graduate degrees earned overall, including 250 doctorates."
The institute's celebration includes tours, bands, a picnic, and games including a dunking machine, a bounce house and carnival attractions.
Ending Thursday's entertainment will be comedian, movie star, and Knoxville native Henry Cho and a fireworks extravaganza.
The following day, UTSI will hold sessions focusing on the history of the institute as well as technical aspects of the research and breakthroughs there.
Most events are free. But tickets to Cho's show are $25, tickets to the picnic are $15, and a combo ticket for both is $35. Tickets for a Friday night banquet are $30.
For more information, tickets, or to RSVP, visit http://utsi.edu.