Founded on October 25, 1952, Beihang University, or Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (BUAA), is a merger of eight aeronautics departments of Tsinghua University, Peiyang University, Amoy (Xiamen) University, Sichuan University, Yunnan University, Northwestern Engineering College, North China University, and Southwest Aeronautical Institute. It was previously called Beijing Institute of Aeronautics, and changed to its current name in June, 1988.
1.The Beijing Institute of Aeronautics Period (1952~1988)
It wasn’t until June 1, 1953 that Beihang began the construction of its own campus in Baiyanzhuang Village, Haidian District, which was at that time in the Western suburb of Beijing, merely a piece of farmland without any road nearby. Despite the harsh conditions, thousands of builders managed to complete the construction of the 60,000m2 of bulidings within 6 months, making it possible for all students and some of the faculty to move to the new campus and start their daily work and study by October, 1953.
In June, 1954, Wu Guang was appointed as the first President of the Beijing Institute of Aeronautics. In the same year, the Institute added 2 schools and 7 disciplines to meet the demand of the Aeronautics industry—namely—the School of Aircraft Equipment and School of Aeronautical Materials; Aircraft Meters and Automatic Equipment, Aircraft Electrical Equipment, Special Equipment, Metallography and Heat Treating, Casting, Press Working, and Welding.
From 1956~1957, as required by China’s 12-year Science and Technology Planning, Beihang became the first university to set up majors of Guided Missile, Management, and such subject as Aerodynamics which combines science with engineering. Beihang also established the specialties of Missile Design, Liquid Rocket Engine, Radio Equipment, Aeronautical Engineering Economy, and Instrument Technology. Notably, the Department of Aeronautical Engineering Economy in Beihang was unique among all colleges and universities of aeronautics in China at that time. Different from those in the Soviet model, the above new majors came into being to meet the specific demand of China’s aeronautics industry development. Besides, three Laboratories of Aerodynamics, of Aircraft Structural Mechanics, and of Jet Engine Principles were founded.
In 1958, Beihang, following the general line and guiding principle for education of Chinese Communist Party, put forward a series of new measures. It conducted work-study programs, promoted and practiced the combination of teaching, scientific research, design and production, and started the project of aviation model development. With joint efforts of all faculties and students, the “Beijing 1”, the light passenger airliner personally approved by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, was developed successfully in 100 days. The airliner performed its first test flight on September 24, 1958, and another on the 2500-kilometer route between Beijing and Shanghai. In the meantime, the whole school managed to develop China’s first sounding rocket, “Beijing 2”, which completed a successful test launch in Baicheng on September 22 in the same year, as well as China’s first unmanned aircraft, Beijing 5. By adding the self-developed unmanned aircraft control system to the Soviet Antonov An-2, China’s first drone made its successful maiden flight on September 25, 1958.
In 1958, Beihang set up the majors of Solver, Rocket Ground Equipment, and Launchers. The next year, Beihang established majors of Aeronautical Nonmetallic Materials, Corrosion and Surface Protection, Radio Navigation, Radar, Telecontrol and Telemetry, Atomic Aircraft Engine Design. Two laboratories of Rocket Engines and the Missile Control System were founded, formulating a center for further scientific research together with the previous ones. In May, 1959, the CPC Central Committee issued “the decision to name a batch of key universities among others”, in which Beihang, with its 7-year hard work, was recognized together with other 15 universities as the first batch of key universities in the New China.
In 1960, Beihang established the Department of Aircraft Nuclear Power, Aircraft Manufacturing Technology, and Engineering Physics, and the Department of Aircraft Automation in 1961. Till then Beihang had set up 10 departments and 35 majors.
In 1997, China resumed the national college entrance examination, and the graduate admission examination in 1978. In 1978, Beihang began to recruit undergraduate students of heavy caliber. 21 specialities were divided into 6 groups, namely, Aircraft Design (composed of 3 specialities: Airplane Design, Winged Missile Design, Aircraft High-Altitude Equipment Design), Mathematical Mechanics of Aeronautical Engineering (composed of 2 specialities: Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics, and Aircraft Structural Mechanics and Strength), Aero-Engine Design (composed of 2 specialities: Aircraft Engine Design, and Solid Rocket Engine Design), Aeronautical Materials and Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering (composed of 5 specialities: Aeronautical Metallic Materials and Heat Treatment, Aeronautical Nonmetallic Materials and the Forming Technology, Metal Corrosion and Protection, Aero-Welding, and Aircraft Manufacturing Engineering), Aircraft Automatic Control ( composed of 5 specialities: Aviation Gyro Instrument and Inertial Navigation, Aircraft Instrument and Sensors, Aeronautical Hydraulic Pressure and Air Pressure Accessories, Aeronautical Electric Motors and Electric Apparatus, Aircraft Automatic Control), Aeronautical Electronics and Computing Technology (composed of 4 specialities, Telecontrol and Telemetry, Electronic Computer, Radar and GPS, and Microwave Technology).
2.Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Since 1988)
In April of 1988, the State Education Committee of China approved the name change from Beijing Institute of Aeronautics to Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (abbreviated as Beihang in Chinese).
In 1989, Beihang University was listed among the first 14 key universities in the country during China’s 8th Five-Year Plan Period (1986–1990).
In 1997, Beihang was chosen into Project 211 for Higher Education.
In 2001, Beihang became one of the universities in Project 985 for Higher Education.
In 2010, Beihang was admitted into the plan for Educating and Training Outstanding Engineers of China.
In 2011, Beihang was chosen into the China’s “Mount Everest Plan”—a pilot project for the cultivation top students in basic disciplines.
In 2012, Beihang celebrated its 60th anniversary with the admission into Project 2011 of China, a national project launched in the higher education sector after Project 211 and Project 985.