Purdue University is lending its support to help Morgan State University launch a rocketry lab and training program. Purdue, which is home to 25 astronauts, will offer its aeronautics and astronautics expertise to Morgan State’s liquid-fueled rocketry lab, the first among Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

As part of a partnership, Purdue says engineering students at the Morgan State can also earn a degree from Purdue. The aerospace education partnership was initiated by a $1.6 million grant to Morgan State from California-based Base 11 to build a rocketry program.

“One area that we have not done well enough in is the successful recruitment and preparation of enough students and young people of color, first-generation students and low-income students,” said Purdue President Mitch Daniels. “We’re working very hard on this. We started the Purdue Polytechnic High Schools to increase our numbers of minority and low-income students who will pursue STEM careers. We have to be much better in this area, and the program with Morgan State fits directly into this ambition.”

Through the partnership, students can complete three years at Morgan State followed by two years at Purdue to earn baccalaureate degrees in distinct majors from both institutions. The university says students studying civil engineering or engineering physics at Morgan can move to West Lafayette to earn a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.

Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics is ranked fifth in the latest U.S. News & World Report undergraduate rankings, released in September.

Morgan State President David Wilson cited the fact that the National Society of Black Engineers was founded at Purdue in 1975.

“I appreciate Dr. Wilson recalling that the wonderful Society of Black Engineers that now has chapters all over the country was born here at Purdue,” Daniels said. “We are very excited about welcoming outstanding young men and women from Morgan State to our campus, and we are looking forward to supporting the rocketry program and helping it get off the ground.”

The two universities are working to finalize and get final approvals on the plan.