Areas of Interest in Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace
Areas of interest include:

Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics

This field of study is based on the fundamentals of fluid mechanics and applied aircraft aerodynamics. Areas of current research include computational fluid dynamics, turbulent boundary layer flows, aeroacoustics, rotorcraft aerodynamics, wind turbine aerodynamics, active flow control, subsonic wind tunnel measurement, vortex generators, fixed-wing tip vortices, parachute drag prediction and aircraft design and optimization. Many of these projects are sponsored by government agencies and leading industrial companies, such as NASA, the U.S. Army, Sandia National Laboratory, the National Science Foundation and Boeing. Computational research is conducted using UC Davis High Performance Computing (HPC), NASA HPC, DoD HPC and DoE HPC. Experimental studies are conducted in the UC Davis Wind Tunnel Facility.

Relevant courses: EAE 126 and EAE 127.

Aircraft Control

This field of study includes control theory and its application to aerospace systems. Areas of current research include adaptive control, networked system control, hybrid system control, and controller design for unmanned aerial systems, spacecraft, and other machines. Many of these projects are sponsored by government agencies and leading industrial companies, such as NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the National Science Foundation and Boeing.

Relevant courses: EAE 129.

Aircraft Propulsion

This field of study involves air-breathing jet engines and rocket propulsion. Areas of current research include turbomachinery, computational fluid dynamics, open rotor, jet noise, turbine cooling, innovative gas-turbine cycles, rocket engine feed systems and cooling tubes, propeller design and centrifugal compressors. Many of these projects are sponsored by government agencies and leading industrial companies, such as The Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Aerojet Rocketdyne and the University of California. Computational research is conducted using UC Davis High Performance Computing (HPC), NASA HPC, DoD HPC and DoE HPC.

Relevant courses: EAE 138 and EAE 140.

Composite Materials

This field of study analyzes the structures and materials used in aerospace engineering, expanding from traditional mechanics of materials in order to correctly understand the behavior of thin-walled structures under bending, torsion and axial loads. Composite materials are being used extensively in new airplanes and helicopters, space structures, as well as in wind energy, ships, transportation, infrastructure and biomedical joints. Current research in composite structures encompasses several areas of engineering, includes durability of composites due to in service load (for example, thermo-hygro-mechanical fatigue, impact, etc.) and structural health monitoring methods.

Relevant courses: EAE 135 and MAE 237 (graduate level/technical elective).

Spacecraft Engineering

his field of study includes rocket propulsion, orbital mechanics, spacecraft design, human life-support in space, space environments, mission design and systems engineering. Current research in the MAE department includes spacecraft and habitat design, CubeSat design, human life-support systems and safety, space robotics, autonomous systems supported by machine learning, radiation protection, atmospheric entry and metallic additive manufacturing. A variety of federally-funded national laboratories fund this research, and research projects often result in internship and employment opportunities for students in organizations like NASA, Lawrence Livermore Lab, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, Aerospace Corp, Space Systems Loral and Boeing.

Relevant courses: EAE 140, EAE 141, EAE 142 and EAE 198 (soon to be renumbered EAE 143A). 

Structural Dynamics and Aeroelasticity

This field of study looks at aircraft structural dynamics and aeroelasticity. Areas of current research include aerospace structures, aeroelasticity, biomechanics, flow-induced vibrations, vibroacoustics and minimum weight design with aeroelastic and acoustic constraints. Research is also done on landing recovery systems, including winged, rotor, or parachute recovery system trades and scaled flight testing and the long-duration effects of space flight on the human spine. Aerospace engineers in this research area also work to develop advanced finite element methods to solve steep gradient problems of high temperature due to aerodynamic heating or shock loading, innovative power generation systems and environmental noise control methods. Many of these projects are sponsored by government agencies and leading industrial companies.

Relevant courses: EAE 133 and EAE 135.