May 20, 2013

Jeanette Grider
314.977.2538


University Marks International Milestone in Aviation

Damon Lercel will receive the University's first Ph.D. in aviation this Saturday.
Damon Lercel will receive the University's first Ph.D. in aviation this Saturday. Submitted image

Just as in 1929 when Parks Air College was awarded Certificate No. 1, making it the first federally certificated pilot training school in the nation, Saint Louis University's Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology continues to lead the way internationally in aviation.

On Saturday, May 18, the University conferred the first Ph.D. in Aviation in the United States and the world to Damon Lercel. This historic international milestone also marks the first Ph.D. completed at Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology.

Parks dean Theodosios Alexander (a.k.a. Theodosios Korakianitis), Sc.D., said, "this success is a momentous and historic milestone for aviation, Parks College and Saint Louis University."

"Parks College is dedicated to excellence in research-led education via building collaborative and inter-disciplinary research capabilities. The doctoral programs in aviation and engineering are part of the foundation for the national and international recognition of Parks College as a leading powerhouse for cutting-edge, industry-relevant and science-driven research," Alexander added.

Manoj Patankar, Ph.D., Executive Director of Center for Aviation Safety Research at Parks, funded and supported Lercel's research through his grant, and calls this success "a dream come true." Parks has been working on the concept of a Ph.D. degree in aviation for more than 10 years, recognizing the need for such a degree as well as the academic rigor and research funding required in order to achieve this milestone in aviation.

Lercel is thrilled to be the first to receive a Ph.D. in aviation, and said "The program offered not only an in-depth immersion in research, but also opportunities to interact with both the domestic and international aviation industries." He further added, "It's a victory for the advancement of aviation."

For more information, contact Sue Ratz, Parks College Marketing Manager at 314-977-8371 or sratz2@slu.edu. For media inquries, contact Jeanette Grider in University Communications at 314-977-2538 or jgrider1@slu.edu.


About Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology

Saint Louis University's Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology strives to cultivate practitioners, leaders, and thinkers in aviation, engineering, and science by disseminating and integrating values, knowledge and skills in the pursuit of truth. Parks College was founded by Oliver "Lafe" Parks in 1927, and was the first federally approved school of aeronautics, receiving Air Agency Certificate #1.

During the World War II era, the college and its subsidiaries were responsible for training one of every 10 Army Air Corps pilots, plus thousands of aircraft mechanics. In 1946, Oliver Parks gave Parks College to Saint Louis University. It is the only Jesuit university in the United States with a flight program.

Today, Parks College has a worldwide reputation for exemplary aviation and engineering programs through a variety of undergraduate and graduate disciplines, including aerospace engineering, aviation management, flight sciences/professional piloting, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, computer engineering and biomedical engineering.

About Saint Louis University

Saint Louis University is a Catholic, Jesuit institution that values academic excellence, life-changing research, compassionate health care, and a strong commitment to faith and service.

Founded in 1818, the University fosters the intellectual and character development of nearly 14,000 students on two campuses in St. Louis, Missouri and Madrid, Spain. Building on a legacy of nearly 200 years, Saint Louis University continues to move forward with an unwavering commitment to a higher purpose, a greater good.

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