(Posted April 1, 2021)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. — Juniata College has announced it is prepared to launch — literally — a top-secret project nearly 145 years in the making. The Juniata Space Program (JSP) will soon move into its next phase with the unveiling of the Rocket Fuel and Launch Station (RFLS) within the center of Brumbaugh Academic Center (BAC). 

“We at Juniata College are always looking for new and different ways to engage our students. We have been on the forefront of technology since 1876, the year we were founded, and we plan on staying ahead of the competition for many years to come,” said James Troha, president of Juniata College. “We asked, ‘What can we do to provide a better educational experience for everyone?’ The answer was quite literally looking down at us from above. Space.”

Possibly inspired by the astronomy displays at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, the College’s founders aimed for the stars and encouraged their students to do so as well. 

“The Juniata Space Program was founded in 1876 because the founders of Juniata had a lot of forethought. They were ahead of their time,” said Juniata College Provost Lauren Bowen. “It was being developed over the past century by countless intelligent scientists, engineers, and faculty members, but until now, it was top secret.”

Professor James Borgardt, representing the Physics and Engineering Physics Department, shared that BAC was actually designed from its inception to be a launch station. In conjunction with the College’s two observatories, one adjacent to BAC and the other located at Sparks Farm, Borgardt will begin utilizing the Juniata Vehicle Launcher (JVL) with his students. 

“We are finally ready to launch the Juniata Space Program with a class that will take place — you guessed it — in space,” said Professor Matthew Powell, representing the Geology Department. “Starting today, our students will be able to register for a class starting in the fall called SOBO (Space Organizations & Building Oscillations).”

The highlight of the class will be a short ride to space over the fall break. While faculty members often take students on field trips, jaunts into the ‘final frontier’ may need to forgo the traditional campfire due to the absence of oxygen in space. 

Those interested in learning more about the new program are encouraged to live long and prosper, and to enjoy a very Happy April Fool’s Day!

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.