CINCINNATI — The University of Cincinnati and NASA agreed today to partner on space science research in a program honoring the first man to walk on the moon.
UC President Santa Ono signed the accord with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as the school announced plans for the Neil Armstrong Space Science Institute.
Following his July 20, 1969, moonwalk, Armstrong was an aerospace engineering professor at UC through the 1970s. The Ohio native died last year at age 82.
“Although he was reluctant hero who preferred not to be in the spotlight, the University of Cincinnati community wanted to do something to honor his memory and his achievements,” Ono said.
Armstrong’s widow Carol and sons Rick and Mark Armstrong joined in unveiling a life-sized bas relief of Armstrong that will be installed at the entrance to Rhodes Hall, where his teaching office was.
The school says the institute will focus on research, education in space science and engineering, and manage space-related data. Its initial work will be around unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. The agreement will connect UC researchers with experts at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif.
Tom Davis, chief of aviation systems there, said the NASA partnership grew out of a visit by Ono to the center in May while he was promoting UC in California. Davis is a UC alumnus who met Armstrong through his father, who also taught at UC.
“He inspired my generation,” said Davis, who called Armstrong a childhood hero.
UC also previewed an exhibition about Armstrong’s life and space exploration, including personal artifacts donated to the school. It opens on campus to the public on Thursday.
The school will offer scholarships in Armstrong’s name funded by alumni including some of his former students. UC has also created a commemorative online site about Armstrong.