AAE Research Areas

Aerodynamics emphasizes the study of fluid motion around a body moving through atmospheric air at speeds that range from subsonic to hypersonic. Theoretical, computational, and experimental methods are developed to determine forces, moments, and heat transfer that can be applied to the design of aircraft, missiles, and space launch and re-entry vehicles and their power and propulsion systems. The basic theory and techniques also find application in other areas such as flow control, low-gravity fluid mechanics and manufacturing processes.

Aerospace systems are complex and highly interdisciplinary. The Aerospace Systems area teaches and develops methods and techniques to help address the challenges of designing, managing, and operating these systems. Students in this area learn about different design methods and gain systems design experience through individual and team projects. The topics addressed in course and research work include requirements definition, functional decomposition, concept synthesis, application of design-oriented analysis methods, insight into external drivers and constraints, design for X, optimization, and robust design.

The Astrodynamics and Space Applications group conducts research spanning orbital and interplanetary trajectory design, trajectory optimization, multi-body orbital dynamics, relative motion, planetary entry, remote sensing, spacecraft design, and space situational awareness. Astrodynamics is the analysis of the motion of natural and artificial objects in space, subject to environmental and artificial forces. Space applications broadly encompass the practical utilization of space, including development of spacecraft, instruments, and software, testing and validation of space systems, space situational awareness, space science and technology mission design, orbital infrastructure to support human exploration, and planetary defense.

The Autonomy and Control group is involved in fundamental research and the development of algorithms and experiments for the modelling, simulation and control of aerospace systems. Example applications include aircraft, spacecraft and UASs (unmanned aerospace systems), especially networks of these systems. Other applications include control of multi-agent networks, air traffic and transportation, and cyberphysical systems. The research combines expertise in control theory, robotics, optimization, nonlinear systems, hybrid systems, stochastic systems, and system of systems.

Propulsion involves the study of the basic operation and design of aerospace propulsion devices, including both air-breathing engines and rocket powerplants. The gas dynamics of internal flows, thermodynamics, and combustion processes associated with those devices are discussed in detail. Engine components such as inlets, pumps, and/or compressors, combustion chambers, turbines, and nozzles are investigated. Various air-breathing engines such as turbojets, turbofans, ramjets, turboprops, and scramjets are treated. Rocket propulsion systems, including solid rocket motors; liquid rocket engines; hybrid rockets; and nuclear, electric, and advanced non-chemical systems are also covered.

Structures and Materials emphasizes the study of structural analysis, structural dynamics, structural design, and behavior of aerospace materials. This includes courses that deal with the principles of mechanics and the theoretical, computational, and experimental techniques necessary to ensure the structural integrity of aerospace vehicles. Response to, and failure of, both materials and structures subjected to static and dynamic loads and thermal corrosive and radiation environments are investigated theoretically and observed experimentally.