Dr. Zafer Gürdal
Ronald E. McNair Chair
For as long as he can remember, Zafer Gürdal has been fascinated by flight. As a child in Ankara, Turkey, he recalls building a makeshift rocket from a mechanical pencil using the shavings from match heads to propel his creation into the sky. His innate curiosity and drive were a natural fit for a lifetime of propelling aerospace ingenuity forward.
While at Virginia Tech and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, Zafer pushed the frontiers of aerospace research, developing stronger, lighter materials that are critical to future exploration. This cutting edge research has brought him international recognition as a leader in aerospace innovation.
Zafer welcomes the challenge of bringing together the many facets of aerospace at the University of South Carolina. Research is his focus, with the education of tomorrow's workforce a primary goal. Under his leadership, the McNAIR Center will challenge Carolina's brightest young minds, unifying USC's aerospace effort to bring an array of opportunities to researchers and students alike.