ETSU remembers the late Dr. Rollin Williams, founder of Aerospace Workshop, university’s longest-running grant


JOHNSON CITY—During a recent Aerospace Workshop class at East Tennessee State University, Dr. W. Rollin Williams, who founded the program, was remembered through the presentation of mementos to Dr. Janice Williams, his widow.

Rollin Williams was founding dean of the ETSU College of Applied Science and Technology (now part of the College of Business and Technology), and, from 1967-1976, he served as chair of what was then the Department of Industrial Education. In retirement, he was accorded professor emeritus status.

In addition to his interest in the aerospace program, Williams and his wife enjoyed Asian culture. He spent two one-year periods as a Fulbright Scholar—one in Thailand and another in Taiwan. In addition, he taught for a year each in Taiwan and in Nanjing, China.

The annual summer Aerospace Workshops began in 1975. Scholarships are granted to area elementary or secondary school teachers or administrators to give them meaningful experiences and material, which they can then offer the children in their schools. This is the longest-running continuous grant administered by ETSU.

During the 33 years of the program, some 1,500 teachers have taken the workshops, which are given annually at the basic level and every-other-year to advanced students.

The three-week basic workshop now in progress provides a tour of Tri-Cities Airport, including the radar room and air traffic control area; a NASA representative directing a session; and rocket building and launching. An “egg drop” exercise involves safely packaging and dropping an egg with “style and accuracy” from the height of a three-story building. In another project, participants build a glider or paper aircraft to be tested in the ETSU Mini-Dome for the greatest distance and duration of flight.

A field trip is scheduled to Charleston, S.C., where the students will view United States Air Force facilities and tour the Boeing Company operations.

Individual flight instruction is a major component of the workshop, with participants receiving two one-hour sessions.

For further information, contact Dr. Paul Sims of the ETSU Department of Technology and Geomatics at (423) 439-7819

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