Norwich University has always been on the cutting edge of technological education, beginning with its pioneering engineering curriculum in the 1820s. In the late 1960s, the world of science and technology was exploring a new frontier: outer space. The Norwich trustees voted in 1967 to partner with the Space Research Corporation to offer graduate and undergraduate degrees in aerospace studies. This short-lived partnership was known as the Space Research Institute.
The Space Research Corporation was the first aerospace research firm to be headquartered in Vermont. It moved to the border town of North Troy and sought a partnership with a Vermont university after the withdrawal of Canadian government funds ended their partnership with McGill University. They devised a plan to offer hands-on experience and cutting-edge classroom instruction both at its North Troy facility and on the Norwich campus.
The coursework consisted primarily of math, physics, and aerospace engineering covering topics like thermodynamics, propulsion systems, and aerospace electronics. These areas of study were seamlessly integrated with the ability for students to research, design, construct, and launch space vehicles using on-site equipment and facilities.
Courses in aerospace studies were taught from 1968 to 1972. Apparent lagging interest and funding challenges led to the closure of the program in 1972, with no degrees ever being issued.
In a shocking twist, the founder of the Space Research Corporation, Gerald Bull, was later found to be involved in illegal arms deals, and was assassinated in 1990. You can learn more about the Space Research Institute, including Gerald Bull’s shadowy career, by reviewing files in President Barksdale Hamlett and Loring Hart’s papers, as well as the Media Relations records in the University Archives.