AE Research Disciplines

Professor Tsiotras and 3 students working in the Dynamics and Control Systems Lab (DCSL)

Research is the central focus of the AE graduate program, but a growing number of undergraduates are also engaging in specialized research, arranged via special permit. The School's research efforts are organized around six aerospace disciplines, listed below. From this starting point, students pursue research that is richly multi-disciplinary, often resulting in collaborations outside the School and the Institute. Whatever their specific research focus, each graduate student is expected to master basic, experimental, theoretical, and analytical research techniques. Select undergraduates are invited to participate in research projects.

Find out more about getting a research permit.

Aerodynamics & Fluid Mechanics

The study of compressible flows around bodies (external flows) or through engines (internal flows). Research in this area leads to improved understanding of the detailed physical phenomena that control these flows. 

Aeroelasticity & Structural Dynamics

The study of the unique coupling of structural mechanics with aerodynamic loads. Research focuses on nonlinear aeroelastic simulation algorithms and methodologies as well as wind energy, vibration, and related flow phenomena.

Flight Mechanics & Controls

The study of the behavior of dynamical systems. Experimental, theoretical, and analytical research in the flight mechanics and controls area focuses on fixed-architecture, robust, and neuro-fuzzy control, as well as flight and space control applications.

Propulsion & Combustion

The study of the conversion of chemical or electrical energy into thermal energy and/or thrust. Experimental and computational research in this area explores energetics, unsteady phenomena, and plasmas. Much of the primary research is done in the Ben T. Zinn Combustion Laboratory and in the High-Power Electric Propulsion Lab, both located in the North Avenue research park.

Structural Mechanics & Materials

The study of the mechanical behavior of structures formed from various materials. Research includes experimental & computational mechanics, composites, adaptive structures, fracture & fatigue, damage tolerance & failure prediction, structural stability, thermal & environmental effects, non-destructive evaluation, structural health monitoring, and system identification.

System Design & Optimization

The System Design and Optimization group aligns all core aerospace disciplines, focusing specifically on the performance and life-cycle issues that impact mission success. This includes research on the identification and assessment of new aerospace technologies. It also employs computer simulation and analytical prediction techniques to assess new technologies and approaches.