An educator for 30 years with a lifelong love for all things flight and space, Aerospace Engineering Professor Don Edberg earned the 2022 Wang Family Excellence Award for Outstanding Teaching Faculty.
Edberg is one of just five recipients selected from across all of the 23 campuses of the California State University system. As an awardee, Edberg receives a $20,000 cash prize.
“It’s hard to comprehend winning this award over the entire CSU system, which has thousands of great instructors,” Edberg said. “I am very honored to be recognized and humbled at the same time.”
Edberg has taught at Cal Poly Pomona’s aerospace engineering department for 20 years. In this long and fruitful tenure, he has advised over 500 students across 120 design teams in aircraft, spacecraft and launch vehicles.
His work has also led to changes that have become defining features of the aerospace engineering department’s curriculum. Edberg led the development of the department’s astronautics program, offering students the opportunity to specialize in space-faring pursuits as an alternative to aircraft possibilities.
He developed three senior design capstone courses that demand the rigor and problem-solving reflective of real-world engineering projects. Students are tasked with producing industry-grade design documents that are judged by aerospace industry veterans. Further, their work enters the annual and international American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Student Design Competitions, often competing – and winning – against graduate-level students from other universities.
“There are professors that become faint memories while others are forever engrained in our memories, guiding us with their knowledge and wisdom,” says Miguel Maya (’13, aerospace engineering), propulsion development engineer at Virgin Orbit. “Dr. Donald Edberg is the epitome for how a professor’s teachings should guide students not only in the present, but also in the future.”
His enthusiasm for the discipline is also evident outside the classroom. In 2020, Edberg co-authored a 1,000-page textbook with Willie Costa (’13, aerospace engineering) titled “Design of Rockets and Space Launch Vehicles.” The comprehensive text covers the design process of a space launch vehicle from beginning to end. The book earned the 2022 AIAA Summerfield Book Award, awarded to the author of the best book recently published by AIAA.
Edberg thanks many for this award, including his wife, supervisors, colleagues, the aerospace engineering department and its chair; the college and its communication analyst who assembled his persuasive nomination package; and finally, his students.
“Your appetite and enthusiasm to learn and appreciation of the opportunities you received at Cal Poly Pomona made teaching fun… most of the time,” Edberg said in jest. “Never stop learning! Engineering is always changing and it’s important to keep ‘on the crest of the wave’ so you don’t get left behind.”