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Taking Flight

Ninety-nine years ago, on a windswept beach in North Carolina, a spindly machine made of ash, spruce and steel rose briefly into the salt air, propelled by a noisy four-cylinder engine. With a lone pilot struggling to keep its muslin-covered wings level, the ungainly craft settled back onto the sand 12 seconds and 120 feet later. For the first time in history, an aircraft had made a sustained flight under its own power.

The first flight of the Wright brothers' Flyer inaugurated the Air Age--a century of extraordinary technological achievements that enabled winged vehicles to fly ever faster, higher and farther. It should come as no surprise that WPI alumni, faculty and students have played roles, both small and large, in many of the pivotal milestones of the first 100 years of powered flight.

With this issue of Transformations, we begin a yearlong focus on WPI's role in the evolution of aviation and space technology. We invite readers to help us plan the rest of this special year by sending us ideas for future stories.

WPI's place in the story of powered flight is just one of the more noteworthy outcomes of the university's historical emphasis on preparing scientists and engineers who are well equipped to apply their classroom learning to change the world for the better. In the last issue of Transformations, we introduced you to a new marketing initiative that aims to make more people aware of the university's unique curriculum, its history of innovation, and its many contributions to our society.

The program continues to move forward; here are just a few recent developments. You can read more about these initiatives at WPI's marketing Web site.

With these activities, the marketing program we launched under a year ago is building speed and climbing to new heights. While WPI's journey to increased recognition and national visibility is well under way, there is still a lot of ground to cover before we reach our destination. We're happy to have you along for the flight, and we promise to keep you informed about the milestones we pass along the way.

Michael W. Dorsey

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Last modified: Sep 02, 2004, 10:50 EDT
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