Department History

Aviation History

The setting of the cornerstone for San José State University’s Aeronautics program began in the 1936-37 academic year. A group of students formed a flying club with the Advice and council of Frank Petersen — a professor in the Mathematics Department. This activity produced the spark for the initiation of an aviation program that continues to thrive to this day.

With the approach of WWII San José Stare became one of only thirteen institutions selected nationwide to participate in the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPT). War time restrictions forced mandatory cessation of such flying in the coastal region. Actual flight training was moved to Ely, Nevada. To complement the flight program a maintenance curriculum was initiated with extensive laboratory facilities situated in the basement of the “old” science building on Fourth Street.

After the conflict concluded Donald L. James was added to the staff by Dr. Ralph J Smith, engineering program head. His assignment was to provide leadership for the aviation program and things progressed rapidly from that point. This included new Quonset buildings on campus and eventually extensive facilities on a five acre site at Mineta San José International Airport. In 2011 the Aviation Program moved to the very active Reid Hillview Airport. To complement this installation on campus class rooms and a simulator laboratory provided convenient educational facilities.

Flight activities have long been conducted through student flying clubs that are closely associated with the university, this pattern continues to this day. The Aviation Program continues to serve students who are interested in technical, business and flying careers within the broad field of Aviation/Aerospace.

Technology History

The Technology program is the second technical program developed on campus over 80 years ago and currently is housed in the Aviation and Technology Department. 

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, this program used to be called Industrial Arts and offered a Teacher Credential Program.

The Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology started in the early 1960s. The program is developed as an applied technical program with two concentrations: Manufacturing Systems; and Computer, Electronic and Network Technology.

In 1998, the Department of Technology joined the College of Engineering and began a period of joint operations with the Department of Aviation, formerly the Aeronautics Department. In 2001 the two departments combined into the Department of Aviation and Technology.

The Industrial Technology Program was renamed to Engineering Technology with the following concentrations: Manufacturing Systems; Computer Network System Management in preparing graduates for the current needs of Silicon Valley and beyond industry.