Newswise — Cal Poly Pomona’s mission to be the first university to send a rocket into space recently got a huge boost, thanks to a $1.67 million gift from the National College Resources Foundation (NCRF).

A portion of the funding will support the launching a liquid-fueled rocket 45,000 feet to win the top prize at an upcoming national competition.  The university hopes to improve on that achievement after the competition by officially launching a rocket into space, which is 330,000 feet or 62 miles above earth’s surface. Plans for the donation include funding student projects, obtaining space for the department’s Liquid Rocketry Laboratory and procuring equipment and supplies.

Dr. Theresa Price, founder and executive director of the foundation, says her passion is to promote diversity and provide opportunities for underserved and underrepresented students, as well as women.  The outstanding reputation of the college, along with the diversity of the students in the various engineering majors, and the support of (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering and Math outreach and programs, are among the reasons Cal Poly Pomona received the philanthropic grant.

“Both NCRF and Cal Poly Pomona share many of the same goals, including a desire to get students excited about careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and related fields,” Price says. “That common bond makes a collaboration between NCRF and the university a natural fit, and the gift will help turn the dream of space exploration into a reality for students.”

Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Engineering ranks among the best universities in the country for producing large numbers of successful graduates. One in 14 engineers in California are graduates of Cal Poly Pomona.

Aerospace Engineering Professor Frank Chandler called the gift “a godsend” and lauded the foundation for helping to make the development of a laboratory for future rocket engineers a reality.

Around 40 engineering students from a variety of specializations are participating in the rocketry program. The aerospace engineering department expects to see 60 engineering students next academic year working on projects related to the development of liquid rockets, Chandler adds.

“We are working to fulfill the need for future aerospace engineers for the rocketry industry with this gift,” Chandler says. “The aerospace rocketry industry needs engineering majors from all disciplines to be successful. We are excited to provide a training laboratory for our outstanding students.”