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top 20 most innovative university in the nation - U.S. News & World Report 2024

Unraveling the Future of Space Exploration and Innovation

Space exploration has far-reaching effects on our daily lives, influencing technological advancements, medical research and groundbreaking scientific discoveries. With a rich history in the industry, UCF has produced two alumni astronauts and over 50 years of experience in educating future space professionals. The university’s emphasis on space technologies and systems capitalizes on its legacy as the Space University, unparalleled research facilities, and interdisciplinary insights from various fields 鈥 including: business, communications, economics, education, healthcare, modeling and simulation, philosophy, political science, and STEM.

At the Forefront of Space Exploration

UCF’s space systems research explores the unknowns of our planetary systems and the cosmos. Inspired by the late physicist Stephen Hawking, UCF researchers strive to unravel the universe’s mysteries. The Stephen W. Hawking Center for Microgravity Research and Education at UCF furthers his groundbreaking discoveries, advances microgravity research, and investigates innovative solutions for space travel and extraterrestrial habitation.

America鈥檚 Destination for Space Science

Located just 35 miles from Kennedy Space Center (KSC), UCF’s main campus offers unique access to groundbreaking space initiatives. With more interns sent to KSC than any other university, UCF students receive hands-on training, skill development, and research opportunities that often lead to full-time roles after graduation. These experiences inspire UCF students to recognize the importance of their discoveries and the lasting impact on future generations.

Space Research in Motion

UCF supports research and discovery led by respected faculty that drives a deeper understanding of our universe as we pursue new knowledge and interplanetary exploration.

Space Researchers Charting Pathways to Other Galaxies

亚洲成人视频 faculty are driven to uncover the mysteries of the universe to help us better understand our place among it. Their contributions to our collective knowledge of the cosmos helps to make space exploration safer, as we work toward future interplanetary travel.


亚洲成人视频 Professor Daniel Britt

Daniel Britt, Ph.D.

Pegasus Professor

Daniel Britt is a leading expert in planetary science. He has served on the science teams of four NASA missions, including Mars Pathfinder and Deep Space 1, and has created hardware for all of the space agency鈥檚 Mars rovers. At UCF, he is the director of the Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science (CLASS), a node of NASA鈥檚 Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute. His work through CLASS seeks to further understand the formation and evolution of the surfaces of celestial bodies so that future exploration missions 鈥 whether human or robotic 鈥 will be properly equipped to handle any challenges they face.

亚洲成人视频 Professor Philip Metzger

Philip Metzger, Ph.D.

Associate Scientist

Philip Metzger is a planetary physicist who worked for NASA鈥檚 Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for 30 years. At KSC, Metzger co-founded Swamp Works, which provides technologies for working and living on the surfaces of the moon and other celestial bodies. While he鈥檚 still involved with Swamp Works, Metzger now conducts solar system exploration research at UCF that focuses on predicting how rocket exhaust interacts with extraterrestrial soil, characterizing lunar and Martian soil simulants, and more.

亚洲成人视频 Professor Humberto Campins

Humberto Campins, Ph.D.

Pegasus Professor

Humberto Campins is an international expert on asteroids, comets and other small celestial bodies, especially those that can threaten Earth with impact. As head of the Planetary Science group at UCF, he uses a variety of ground-based, airborne and space-based telescopes to conduct his research, which is funded by NASA and the U.S. National Science Foundation. One of his current interests is the role comets may have played in the origin of water and organic molecules on Earth and Mars. He is also a member of NASA鈥檚 OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, which is on its way back to Earth and arriving in 2023.



亚洲成人视频 Professor Daniel Britt

Daniel Britt, Ph.D.

Pegasus Professor

Daniel Britt is a leading expert in planetary science. He has served on the science teams of four NASA missions, including Mars Pathfinder and Deep Space 1, and has created hardware for all of the space agency鈥檚 Mars rovers. At UCF, he is the director of the Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science (CLASS), a node of NASA鈥檚 Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute. His work through CLASS seeks to further understand the formation and evolution of the surfaces of celestial bodies so that future exploration missions 鈥 whether human or robotic 鈥 will be properly equipped to handle any challenges they face.

亚洲成人视频 Professor Humberto Campins

Humberto Campins, Ph.D.

Pegasus Professor

Humberto Campins is an international expert on asteroids, comets and other small celestial bodies, especially those that can threaten Earth with impact. As head of the Planetary Science group at UCF, he uses a variety of ground-based, airborne and space-based telescopes to conduct his research, which is funded by NASA and the U.S. National Science Foundation. One of his current interests is the role comets may have played in the origin of water and organic molecules on Earth and Mars. He is also a member of NASA鈥檚 OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, which is on its way back to Earth and arriving in 2023.

亚洲成人视频 Professor Philip Metzger

Philip Metzger, Ph.D.

Associate Scientist

Philip Metzger is a planetary physicist who worked for NASA鈥檚 Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for 30 years. At KSC, Metzger co-founded Swamp Works, which provides technologies for working and living on the surfaces of the moon and other celestial bodies. While he鈥檚 still involved with Swamp Works, Metzger now conducts solar system exploration research at UCF that focuses on predicting how rocket exhaust interacts with extraterrestrial soil, characterizing lunar and Martian soil simulants, and more.


background of space and the galaxy

America’s Space University

Founded in 1963 with the mission to provide talent for Central Florida and the growing U.S. space program, UCF has been making an impact on our state, our nation 鈥 and outer space 鈥 ever since. The Florida Space Institute, based at UCF, is made up of researchers and educators from UCF in partnership with those at other State University System of Florida institutions. Many of these researchers are tied to major space missions exploring asteroids, comets, exoplanets, Jupiter, the Kuiper Belt, Mars, the moon, Pluto and Saturn.

亚洲成人视频 faculty are part of several NASA missions, including OSIRIS-REx and New Horizons. But our faculty aren鈥檛 the only ones doing research in space. UCF alumni have also gone on to take giant leaps in the space industry with companies such as Blue Origin, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, NASA and SpaceX.

8

Experiments sent to space since 2019 aboard Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic rockets

24

UCF researchers have asteroids named after them in recognition of their work

29%

Kennedy Space Center employees are UCF alumni

30+

alumni who worked on NASA’s Artemis 1 mission

$204 Million

in NASA awards since 1991
as of Oct. 2022

UCF-1.01

The planet UCF researchers discovered and named in 2012

A Top School for Engineering, Physics & Planetary Sciences

#12

Top 15 Best Atomic/Molecular Physics Schools
U.S. News & World Report ranked UCF as one of the best in the nation.

top 20 most innovative university in the nation - U.S. News & World Report 2024

Top 20 Most Innovative University in the Nation
U.S. News & World Report ranks UCF as one of the most innovative in its annual list of best colleges.

#50

Graduate Aerospace Engineering Program
Known for producing top aerospace talent, UCF is ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report.

#73

Best Graduate Engineering School
U.S. News & World Reportranks UCF in the top 75 of the nation’s graduate schools.

#75

Best Undergraduate Engineering Program
UCF is ranked in the top 85 programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

engineering accreditation commission abet badge
ABET Accredited
The bachelor’s programs in aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

Space Degrees

As new space programs continue to take off from the Central Florida region and beyond, students have an opportunity to break into this exciting industry with a number of space degrees offered at UCF.

Bachelor’s Degrees

Best bachelor’s degrees for a career in space exploration and research

Graduate Degrees

Top master’s and doctoral degrees for advancement in the space industry

Business Degrees

Leading business degrees that can be applied to the space field

UCF Online Degrees

Nationally recognized online space degree programs

Creating Stellar Connections

Throughout Florida and the nation, UCF has built a number of relationships with partners who share similar values 鈥 striving toward excellence in any endeavor they may undertake. NASA is an example of one such partnership. The university is participating in several major NASA planetary missions and has the Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science. Having established programs in space and planetary sciences, UCF has significant input into the nation鈥檚 space program. The partnership allows leading researchers at both NASA and UCF to ensure that robotic and human missions are done safely and efficiently.

Nearby Central Florida Research Park is also home to over 120 companies and serves as a hub for the nation鈥檚 military simulation and training programs. With its close proximity to UCF鈥檚 main campus, researchers and students have an opportunity to collaborate with industry leaders 鈥 working together on projects in the sciences, engineering, photonics and optics, and modeling and simulation.

Space Companies Employing UCF Graduates

  • Blue Origin
  • Boeing
  • JPL
  • Kennedy Space Center
  • L3Harris Technologies
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Made in Space
  • NASA
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Siemens
  • SpaceX
  • Virgin Atlantic

Institutes, Associations and Affiliations

  • Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center (AMPAC)
  • Federal Aviation Administration
  • FIEA (Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy)
  • Florida High Tech Corridor
  • Florida Space Institute
  • Institute for Simulation and Training
  • Townes Laser Institute
  • Unmanned Aerial Systems Research
photo of Nicole Stott

UCF Alumni Are Soaring to New Heights

Two space shuttle missions. A three-month stay on the International Space Station. The 10th woman to perform a spacewalk. Nicole Stott 鈥92 broke barriers during her time as an astronaut. From her start as an operations engineer at Kennedy Space Center, she held different positions before achieving what once seemed like a far-fetched idea: becoming an astronaut. After her last mission, Stott led several groups at NASA before stepping aside to try something new: inspiring students to blend art with science. While sharing her love of both subjects, she spreads a motivational message that 鈥渢his is our planet, and we need to take care of it.鈥

How she soared to new heights

artemis mission logo over space background

Powering Humankind’s
Return to the Moon

UCF鈥檚 drive for discovery and unique proximity to Kennedy Space Center inspire our graduates, students and researchers to reach for the stars 鈥 their passion and ingenuity will take us back to the moon and beyond.

Explore NASA’s Artemis Program with UCF

Areas of Focus

Innovation. Partnership. Impact. Our integrated approach to teaching, learning and research unleashes the potential of our faculty and students — empowering them to make a difference in their communities and around the world.

Space Technologies & Systems
Entertainment & Immersive Experiences
Health & Human Performance
Energy & Sustainability
Transformative Technologies & National Security