CU Boulder’s aerospace engineering program gets $15 million and a new name

Michael Byram and Ann Smead donated generously to support Colorado aerospace. (Courtesy of CU Boulder)

Michael Byram and Ann Smead donated generously to support Colorado aerospace. (Courtesy of CU Boulder)

A prominent family gifted CU Boulder’s Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department $15 million–and a new name–to attract outstanding faculty and students.

The gift, donated by Ann Smead and her husband, Michael Byram, will provide continued funding for the Smead Program, which provides mentorship and research support to aerospace engineering doctoral candidates.

It also will endow two Smead Faculty Fellowships and create two new positions within the department– the Smead Endowed Chair of Space Technology and the Michael M. Byram Distinguished Visiting Professorship.

“CU’s Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department is already one of the finest engineering programs in the country,” donor Ann Smead said in a written statement. “The significance of this gift amount is that it will help guarantee aerospace engineering sciences continues its extraordinary growth and also continues to retain and attract some of the world’s most exceptional faculty and students.”

The department now will be named the “Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences,” in honor of H.J. Smead, an aerospace executive, CU Boulder devotee and late husband to Ann Smead.

Smead, was a CU Boulder graduate and later president of Kaiser Aerospace & Electronics Corp. He helped found CU Boulder’s Aerospace Engineering Sciences External Advisory Board and remained committed to the university throughout his life.

Ann Smead expressed hope that the gift will not only strengthen the university, but also Colorado’s aerospace industry as a whole.

“Research in aerospace engineering is a very broad subject area,” she said. in the release. “It’s not just about putting someone on Mars. There are also byproducts from these research efforts which support our Colorado economy. Hopefully by supporting these many enterprises we can and will keep the finest students and experts in our state.”

Multimedia business & healthcare reporter Chloe Aiello can be reached via email at or

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