BUAA was formed in 1952 from a merger of the aeronautical departments of Tsinghua University, Peiyang University, Xiamen University, Sichuan University, Yunnan University, Northwestern Engineering College, North China University, and Southwest Aeronautical Institute.
The meeting announcing the founding of the Beijing Institute of Aeronautics (BIA) was held in the auditorium of Beijing Institute of Technology on October 25, 1952. In the early days of the university, most of the faculty and students lived on campuses of Tsinghua University and Beijing Institute of Technology before they moved on to their own new campus, which was chosen in May, 1953 and located at the BaiYanZhuang Village, Haidian District, in the western suburb of Beijing. Construction of campus buildings started on June 1, 1953. More than 60,000m2 of buildings were completed within six months. By October 1953, all students and some of the faculty had moved to the new campus and started their daily work and study. Initially, there were two departments with 4 majors: Aeroplane Design and Aeroplane Technology in the Department of Aeroplane Engineering, and Engine Design and Engine Technology in the Department of Aeroplane Engine Engineering.
BUAA was among China's first 16 key universities in the 1950s, and was among the top 15 for priority development during China's 7th Five-Year Plan period (1986–1990). During the 8th Five-Year plan it was listed among the top 14 for priority development, and at the start of the 9th Five-Year Plan BUAA was among the first batch of 15 universities in project 211 for Higher Education.
Since 1952, this university was named the "Beijing Institute of Aeronautics". Since May 1988, it has been known as the "Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics", with the abbreviation "BUAA". In 2002, the university board decided to change the English name of the university to "Beihang University", yet the abbreviation "BUAA" was retained.
The university has 59 undergraduate programs, 38 master's degree authorization first-level disciplines programs, 21 doctor degree authorization first-level disciplines, and 17 postdoc stations. At present, the university has 27 schools covering 10 major disciplines. The total number of faculty and staff is 3,759, including 20 academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences or Chinese Academy of Engineering, and 1,668 full or associate professors. BUAA is the home of 27,811 undergrad and graduate students, and about 668 international students It has 89 laboratories including, one National Lab and seven State Key Laboratories. The university is equipped with all ancillary facilities. Its library, with an area of over 24,000 m2, has a collection of over 1.2 million.
In 2005, the French leading Grande École of engineering, École Centrale, associated with BUAA to create a top level engineering graduate program called École Centrale de Pékin. This program's intake consisted of the very best Chinese students graduating the National College Entrance Examination.
BUAA also has sports facilities including modern gymnasiums and sports grounds.
October 25 is the anniversary and the following weekend is homecoming weekend.
The official school colors are blue and white, which symbolize the sky and clouds respectively.
Beihang University is one of the ten highest ranking engineering universities in China. It is a member of the prestigious Project 211 and Project 985 group of most elite Chinese public universities. Together with Tsinghua University, Peking University, and Beijing Institute of Technology, it is widely considered to be one of the top four engineering and research universities in Beijing. BUAA has had more than 40 projects that were ranked first in China, since it was established in 1952. Nowadays, it has evolved into a university of engineering science and technology with an emphasis on aeronautical and astronautical engineering, covering such diverse fields as science, technology, liberal arts, law, economics, management, philosophy, foreign languages and education.
Since its founding BUAA has been one of the key universities given priority for development. In the new century and millennium, BUAA was officially listed in China's Action Plan for the Revitalization of Education in the 21st Century. BUAA has 42 research institutes or interdisciplinary research centers, 11 key disciplines of the national level, and 89 laboratories (including 4 national key laboratories, 5 national specialized laboratories, and 12 provincial or ministerial-level key laboratories). In recent years BUAA has ranked among the foremost in China in terms of funding for scientific research. The library, with an area of over 24,000 m2, has a collection of over 1.2 million books. BUAA's sports facilities include an Olympic modern gymnasium and a sports ground.
BUAA serves as one of several top research institutes that are responsible for cultivating intelligence of military oriented technology for China's national defense. BUAA's development is closely related with the development of China's defense ability. Of several prestigious defense-related institutes administered by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, BUAA has better opportunities.
BUAA has established cooperation with 152 universities and research institutions from 40 countries, including Canada, UK, France, Germany, Russia, the United States, and Sri Lanka. 122 scholars have been invited as honorary professors to Beihang University. Every year, an average of about 1000 foreign experts and scholars come to BUAA to give lectures, to visit, and to take part in international conferences, and discussions for scientific cooperation. Every year over 600 BUAA faculties go abroad to give lectures, participate in academic conferences and conduct cooperative scientific research.
Since 2005, Beihang University and Groupe des Écoles Centrales have cooperated under the support of the governments of China and France to jointly establish the Sino-French Engineer School in Beijing.
Since the 1990s, Beihang University has been one of the few universities in China that use English as the primary medium of instruction for all its international master and doctoral programs. It also offers many bachelor's degree programs in English.
Since 1993, more than 9,000 students from over 80 countries have enrolled at Beihang University.
In BUAA, undergraduate education is focused on training creative specialized graduates with solid basic knowledge and ensuring that they can study and work independently in the science field with necessary skills. Centering on this aim, BUAA has a credit-based education plan, which is a flexible way for students to plan their college life.
BUAA is among the very first academic institutes which established graduate schools in China. It is also one of the universities which have the authority to approve advisors for doctoral programs.
BUAA was among the nation's first 16 key universities back in the 1950s, and among the top 15 for priority development during China's 7th five-year plan period (1986–1990). During the 8th five-year plan it was listed among the top 14 for priority development, and at the start of the 9th five-year plan BUAA was among the first batch of 15 universities in "Project 211 for Higher Education." As it entered the new century and millennium, the university was again listed in China's Action Plan for the Revitalization of Education in the 21st Century. BUAA has grown into an open, multi-disciplined, research-oriented university of engineering science and technology with an emphasis on aeronautical and astronautical engineering. The university now has 40 undergraduate majors, 65 master programs, and 36 second-level doctorate programs in 2nd level disciplines and 12 post-doctorate stations. In 10 disciplines of the 1st level BUAA is authorized to confer doctor and master's degrees.
BUAA is home to some of China's research labs. Of them, the National Laboratory of Software Development Environment, National Computational Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, National Laboratory of Aero-engine and Air Heat, and National Laboratory of Aeronautics and Astronautics represent BUAA's facilities.
Since its foundation, the university has had more than 40 projects that were ranked first in the country and has received more than 900 awards for achievements, which have made BUAA one of the top-ranked universities in the field of high tech. In addition, BUAA has filled scientific and technological gaps nationwide by making and launching spacecraft of different models, such as Beijing -1, the first light aircraft in China; Beijing -2, the first sounding rocket in Asia; Beijing -5, the first unmanned aircraft in China; the BEE series; and coaxial rotors helicopter. BUAA has also invented a flight simulator in automation, a silicon compiler in computer science, a Phase Change Disk in material and information storage, a robot of multi-degree freedom in artificial intelligence and assisted in the successful launch of the Shenzhou spacecraft.
Now the university has established six major state labs, namely the Lab of Aero Engine Gasdynamics and Thermodynamics, the State Lab of Computational Fluid Dynamics, the Lab of Software Development Environment and the National Base of Mechanics, and 12 major labs at provincial levels. For years, the funding for scientific research at BUAA has been increasing at an annual rate of over 20%, which ranks among the best in all the universities in China in terms of its achievements, funding and academic standing.
In 2005, BUAA initiated the Student Research Training Program (SRTP) to involve undergraduates in research through credit incentives. All granted projects are funded by the Student Academic Office. Excellent project holders are given extra credits for their achievements. Students often publish papers and file patent applications during the training program.
The Feng Ru Cup, named after China's first aircraft designer and aviator Feng Ru, is an annual competition of student scientific innovation works in BUAA. It is like the senior project which is common in the United States. This competition attracts thousands of students each year.
There are various of student societies and activities to join, from sport clubs to scientific interest groups. Student scientific and engineering innovation groups may receive funds from different entities, e.g. departments, schools and companies.Jiang Bin, billionaire co-founder of GoerTek
Li Peiyao 李沛瑶, former vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
Qi Faren, chief engineer of the Shenzhou space project
Yang Dongming, lieutenant general, former deputy commander of the PLA Air Force
Yuan Jiajun 袁家军, Shenzhou commander
Zhang Guoguang, former governor of Liaoning and Hubei
Zhu Kaixuan 朱开轩, former Minister of Education