Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics (AEM)

At the graduate level, the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics (AEM) offers programs of study leading to a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics (MSAEM) or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Our mission is to serve society by educating the next generation of engineers and by creating innovative aerospace and mechanics knowledge to meet the technological challenges of the future.

The AEM department maintains and has access to excellent research laboratory and computing facilities. Two subsonic wind tunnels, two supersonic wind tunnels and a water tunnel are available for experimental aerodynamics and fundamental fluid dynamics research. Two large-scale and multiple small-scale vacuum chambers are available for in-space propulsion and spacecraft (CubeSat) related research. In addition to traditional instrumentation, state of the art laser-based diagnostics systems are available to support the research in the wind and water tunnels, as well as the on-going space propulsion related research being conducted by AEM faculty and students. Laboratories facilities for the design, fabrication and testing of unmanned aerials systems (UASs) are also available, with plans being developed to dramatically expand these facilities to support research in the area of autonomous formation flight (swarming) of UASs.

Computational facilities ranging from PC-based computer laboratories to high performance computing (HPC) facilities are used to support the broad spectrum of computational modeling research being conducted by the AEM faculty and students. Faculty and students in the AEM department have access to the University of Alabama’s High Performance Computing facility (located on the UA campus) and the Alabama Supercomputer Center (a state-run HPC facility that may be used free of charge by researchers at universities across the State of Alabama). In addition, AEM faculty maintain, in their respective laboratories, the specific computational modeling capabilities needed for their research. The AEM department also maintains a helicopter simulator within an actual UH-1 helicopter cockpit that supports on-going rotorcraft research.  

The AEM department maintains the Advanced Materials Testing Laboratory, which is available for a wide range of macroscopic testing of materials systems and structural mechanics testing (with servo-hydraulic equipment for tensile, compression, torsion, fatigue, creep and high temperature testing as well as test cells for induction heating, spot welding and x-ray inspection). The AEM Department also maintains a multi-user composite materials laboratory (with equipment for the fabrication and testing of composite materials). Faculty and students in the AEM department have access to the University’s Central Analytical Facility (a state-of-the-art facility housing a myriad of equipment for microscopy related to materials science and engineering). AEM faculty and students also have access to the College of Engineering’s Cube facility (with equipment for both additive – including the 3D printing of composite materials – and subtractive manufacturing) and the College of Engineering Machine Shop (with a professional staff that supports the fabrication of research related hardware).    

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Programs

Graduate students can specialize in the following aerospace or mechanics areas:

  • Aerodynamics
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Aerospace Structures
  • Solid Mechanics
  • Aircraft Flight Dynamics and Controls
  • Dynamics
  • Space Systems and Propulsion

Assistantships (teaching and research) are offered by the department and individual faculty to highly-qualified applicants with preference towards those pursuing a PhD. Most assistantships start in the fall and last one academic year with consideration for renewal. An assistantship provides a competitive stipend, full tuition and health benefits. No additional application is necessary. Contacting faculty with similar research interests is encouraged.

For more information about aerospace engineering and mechanics graduate programs, contact Dr. James P. Hubner.

Faculty

Executive Vice President and Provost
  • Whitaker, Kevin
Dean, College of Engineering
  • Karr, Charles L.
Department Head
  • Baker, John
James R. Cudworth Chair
  • Gogineni, Prasad
William D. Jordan Chair
  • Roy, Samit
Undergraduate Programs Coordinator
  • Olcmen, Semih
Graduate Programs Coordinator
  • Hubner, James Paul
Mechanics Programs Coordinator
  • Barkey, Mark E.
Professors
  • Baker, John
  • Barkey, Mark E.
  • Gogineni, Prasad
  • Roy, Samit
Associate Professors
  • Cheng, Gary
  • Haque, Anwarul
  • Hubner, James Paul
  • Lang, Amy W.
  • Olcmen, Semih
  • Sharif, Muhammad Ali Rob
Assistant Professors
  • Branam, Richard
  • Mulani, Sameer
  • O'Neill, Charles
  • Shen, Jinwei
  • Sood, Rohan
  • Su, Weihua
  • Unnikrishnan, Vinu
  • Wang, Xiaowen "Sean"
Instructor
  • Beck, Sadie
Adjunct Faculty
  • Allison, Paul
  • Jordan, Brian
  • MacPhee, David
  • Marley, Brent
Professors Emeriti
  • Gambrell, Samuel, Jr.
  • Jackson, John E., Jr.
  • Jones, Stanley E.
Associate Professor Emeritus
  • Freeman, Michael

Courses

Master's students may, with permission of the department and prior approval by the Graduate School, receive credit for six (6) hours of 400-level credit. No 400-level courses can be approved for application to a PhD degree, other than the maximum of six (6) hours already completed as part of a master's degree. A master's student may, with approval of a petition, meet prerequisites with a combination of related coursework and experience.

AEM
500
Hours
3
Intermediate Fluid Mechanics

Development and use of the integral and differential forms of the equations of continuity, momentum, and energy with ideal fluids and compressible fluids. Advanced topics in fluid mechanics, including potential flow, boundary layer flow, compressible flow, and open channel flow.

AEM
508
Hours
3
Propulsion Systems

Basic propulsion dynamics, thermodynamics of fluid flow, combustion kinetics, air-breathing engines, rockets, design criteria, performance, and advanced propulsion systems.

AEM
513
Hours
3
Compressible Flow

Fundamentals of high-speed aerodynamics theory discussed. Topics covered include: normal and oblique shock waves, heat addition and friction effects in one-dimensional flow, expansion waves in two-dimensional flow, quasi 1-D nozzle flow, unsteady compressible flow calculations using method of characteristics, shock tube relations.

AEM
514
Hours
3
Experimental Aerodynamics

The course provides a laboratory counterpart to concepts discussed in aerodynamics and fluid mechanics. Course topics include statistical and uncertainty analysis techniques, design of experiments, computer-based data-acquisition, sensors for fluid mechanic measurements, and aerodynamic measurement techniques and facilities.

AEM
515
Hours
3
Micro-Aerial Vehicles (MAVs)

This course surveys topics related to micro air vehicles (MAVs). These are small, flying vehicles generally classified by a maximum length of 15 cm. It is intended to be interdisciplinary in nature, involving seniors and first-year graduate students from different engineering academic departments.

AEM
516
Hours
3
Helicopter Theory

Critical examination of the propulsive airscrew, including induced velocity relations, flow patterns, and similarity. Practical applications approached through existing theory and practice.

AEM
520
Hours
3
Computational Fluid Dynamics

Introduction to basic mathematical concepts and engineering problems associated with numerical modeling of fluid systems. Application of the state of the art numerical models to engineering problems. Fundamentals of Finite Difference and Finite Volume Methods and their applications in fluid dynamics and heat transfer problems will be covered.

AEM
528
Hours
3
Space Propulsion

Students are introduced to different types of space propulsion systems in this class. Different rockets, such as: monopropellant, bi-propellant, solid, liquid, nuclear and electric rockets are discussed in detail. Working principles of these rockets, their intended use and their design are discussed. Power limited and energy limited rocket working principles are given. Several rocket design projects are assigned throughout the class.

AEM
530
Hours
3
Continuum Mechanics

Introduction to tensor analysis. Analysis of stress and strain at a point. Development of the equations representing conservation laws for a continuum. Study of constitutive relationships for fluids and solids. Application of field equations to simple boundary value problems in solid mechanics and fluid mechanics.

AEM
535
Hours
3
Applied Finite Element Analysis

Applications of the finite element method to static stress analysis, heat transfer, natural frequency and Eigen-mode determination, for linear, hyper-elastic, and elastic-plastic materials. The course includes a basic background on finite element theory as well as usage of current finite element software.

AEM
546
Hours
3
Intermediate Solid Mechanics

Two-dimensional theory of elasticity; exact and approximate solutions of bending, torsion, and buckling for bars; open sections and curved beams; stresses in axisymmetric members; and finite-element and energy methods.

AEM
548
Hours
3
Stochastic Mechanics

This course develops, analyzes and discusses the application of uncertainty quantification in engineering systems and design methodologies to include uncertainties in the systems. Topics include: classification of uncertainties and methods of quantification, perturbation approaches, polynomial chaos, sampling techniques, random processes and Bayesian analysis.

AEM
552
Hours
3
Composite Materials

First exposure to composite materials. Focus on how heterogeneity/anisotropy in composites influence thermomechanical behavior. The behavior of both continuous and short fiber reinforced composites will be emphasized. Stress analysis for design, manufacturing processes and test methods of composite materials will be covered.

AEM
553
Hours
3
Multiscale Analysis of Advanced Composites

Concepts of multiscale analysis, nano-mechanics, micromechanics - principles of analysis of heterogeneous systems, information transfer between multiple spatial and temporal scales, including atomistic-to-continuum coupling, continuum-to-continuum coupling, and temporal bridging.

Prerequisite(s): AEM 655 or equivalent or consent of instructor.
AEM
555
Hours
3
Nondestructive Evaluation

Fundamental theories, limitations and instrumentation of nondestructive test methods used for metal, polymer and composites materials. The ultrasonic, acoustic emission, vibration, thermography, eddy curent, penetrant, and radiography methods are emphasized.

AEM
562
Hours
3
Intermediate Dynamics

Dynamics of systems in moving coordinate frames; Lagrangian formulation and Hamilton's principle; stability and perturbation concepts for rigid body motion; motion of systems of rigid bodies in three dimensions.

AEM
569
Hours
3
Orbital Mechanics

Introduction to engineering application of celestial mechanics; high-speed, high-altitude aerodynamics; and other fields related to the contemporary problems of space vehicles. Fundamentals of applied dynamics, nomenclature of space flight, space environment and solar system, and two-body orbits. Kepler's laws, coordinate transformations, and related studies.

AEM
570
Hours
3
Mechanical Vibrations

Free and forced vibrations, both undamped and damped. Systems with many degrees of freedom are formulated and analyzed by matrix methods. Experimental techniques of vibration measurement are introduced.

AEM
574
Hours
3
Structural Dynamics

Theoretical foundations of structural dynamics and application of methods to modeling, analysis, and design.

AEM
575
Hours
3
Fundamentals of Aeroelasticity

Aeroelasticity deals with interactions between aerodynamic loads and elastic static and/or dynamic deformations, as well as the influence of the interactions on aircraft performance. The performance of interest may include stability of structures immersed in an airflow (e.g., divergence, buffeting, and flutter), rejection of external disturbances (e.g., gust alleviation), and controllability of flight vehicle trajectory (attitude or motion). Structural mass and stiffness are often tailored to change the aerodynamic load distributions on lifting surfaces. Aeroelasticity is not just fluid mechanics or solid mechanics. Its major emphasis is the fluid-structure interaction. This course focuses on understanding the phenomenology of aerodynamic and structural interactions, instead of the complicated modeling processes. The material is relatively self-contained as we will introduce concepts such as mass and stiffness matrices, shear centers, aerodynamic coefficients, and aerodynamic centers, and then build on these concepts. The students will have access to some simple models, which may become complicated when the fluid-structure interaction is considered. With the study in the class, the students will be able to analyze fundamental aeroelastic phenomena and solve the problem by using a numerical tool. Students should learn the concept of aeroelastic tailoring and structural designs with aeroelastic constraints.

Prerequisite(s): AEM 574 or instructor's permission
AEM
577
Hours
3
Advanced Linear Control

Modern techniques for the analysis and design of linear control systems. Matrix formulation; multivariable control systems; state-variable concepts; discrete-time systems; optimization; and statistical design methods.

AEM
581
Hours
3
Complex Engineering Systems

Introduction to the concepts and techniques associated with the analysis of complex systems, dynamic systems, chaos, lumped parameter modeling, feedback, networks, thermal/electrical circuit analogies, entropy.

AEM
582
Hours
3
Space Systems

Concepts in systems engineering of space systems: systems engineering, space systems, satellites, space transportation systems, space environment, attitude determination and control, telecommunications, space structures, rocket propulsion, and spacecraft systems.

AEM
584
Hours
3
Space Environment

This course provides an introduction to the effects of the space environment on spacecraft. The harsh space environment introduces several unique challenges to the spacecraft designer. Focus on the impact of this environment and how best to mitigate these effects through early design choices will give the satellite designer better tools. Topics include: geomagnetic field, gravitational field of the Earth, Earth's magnetosphere, vacuum, solar UV, atmospheric drag, atomic oxygen, free and trapped radiation particles, plasma, spacecraft charging, micrometeoroids.

AEM
588
Hours
3
Advanced Space Propulsion and Power

This course will explore concepts, theory, and performance of electrical, nuclear, and exotic space propulsion systems for use in space. This exploration will include fundamental physical processes exploited by these propulsion schemes. The course will also include concept, theory and performance of power generation methods in space. Systems studied will include low and high power systems intended for short term or long term applications. Thermal, solar and nuclear devices and the energy conversion means for converting energy from these sources into useful electrical power will be studied.

Prerequisite(s): AEM 408 or AEM 508 or equivalent or with permission of instructor.
AEM
591
Hours
1-6
Special Problems

Independent investigations of special problems. Credit is based on the amount of work undertaken.

AEM
592
Hours
1-6
Special Problems

Independent investigations of special problems. Credit is based on the amount of work undertaken.

AEM
594
Hours
2-6
Special Projects

Planning, executing, and presenting results of individual project involving a research design, analysis, or similar undertaking.

AEM
598
Hours
1-3
Non-Thesis Research

Research not related to thesis.

AEM
599
Hours
1-12
Thesis Research

Research related to thesis.

AEM
606
Hours
3
Physical Gas Dynamics

Introduction to the behavior of gases. Gases are treated as interacting particles and the collective behavior is studied as an ensemble of semi-random events. The evolution of gas properties from the molecular viewpoint to the continuum viewpoint will be examined. Applications of interest include chemical reactions important to hypersonic aircraft, scramjet engines, current and future high pressure ratio gas turbine engines as well as rocket propulsion.

AEM
614
Hours
3
Airfoil And Wing Theory

Compressible and incompressible airfoil and wing theory.

AEM
616
Hours
3
Rotorcraft Aeromechanics

This course presents the fundamentals of rotorcraft aeromechanics, which study equilibrium, motion, and control of elastic rotorcraft under aerodynamic loading. Topics included: blade motion, unsteady rotor aerodynamics, rotor wakes, dynamic stall, noise, and stability and control.

Prerequisite(s): AEM 516
AEM
617
Hours
3
Aircraft Systems

This course presents a comprehensive approach to modern aircraft systems design topics.

Prerequisite(s): BSAE or AEM 614 or consent of instructor
AEM
621
Hours
3
Viscous Flow

Development of basic boundary layer equations and concepts. Classical incompressible solutions for laminar boundary layer, approximate solutions, and concepts of turbulence.

AEM
622
Hours
3
Turbulent Flows

Introduction to the physics and modeling of turbulent flows. This course will cover the governing equations of multi-species viscous laminar flows, origin and characteristics of turbulence, mathematical methods for obtaining the governing equations of turbulent flows, various modeling techniques for resolving closure problems associated with the governing equations of turbulent flows.

AEM
624
Hours
3
Hypersonic Flow

This course develops, analyzes and discusses the application of hypersonic flow theory. Topics include: Hypersonic Shock/expansion wave relations, approximate methods to calculate lift and drag on hypersonic vehicles, boundary layer equations for hypersonic flow, and hypersonic viscous interactions.

AEM
625
Hours
3
Advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics

Finite volume methods for numerical analysis of transport problems including fluid dynamics and heat transfer in complex curvilinear boundary fitted domain will be developed and applied.

Prerequisite(s): AEM 420 or AEM 520
AEM
626
Hours
3
Unsteady Flow

This course develops, analyzes and discusses unsteady potential flow theory and the calculation of steady and unsteady aerodynamic loads and response on airfoils, wings and bodies as well as corresponding topics of current interest.

Prerequisite(s): BSAE or AEM 500 or instructor's consent
AEM
630
Hours
3
Flow Control

Passive, active and reactive flow management strategies to achieve transition delay/advance, separation control, mixing augmentation, drag reduction, lift enhancement, and noise suppression. Unified framework for flow control.

Prerequisite(s): AEM 500 or AEM 621 or equivalent
AEM
635
Hours
3
Finite Element Methods

Finite-element formulations in the areas of solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, and heat conduction; isoparametric elements; assembly process; solution of stiffness equations; and convergence of results.

AEM
637
Hours
3
Theory Of Elasticity

Equations of linear elasticity, principal stresses and strains, stress and displacement potentials, energy principles, and numerical methods. Boundary value problems of elasticity.

AEM
638
Hours
3
Introduction to Experimental Mechanics

Theory and application of electrical resistance strain gauges for stress analysis and for use as transducers. Study of circuits and instruments used for strain measurement. Theory and application of photoelasticity for measurement of stress. Fundamentals of servohydraulic testing.

AEM
644
Hours
3
Engineering Fracture Mechanics

Linear elastic and elastic-plastic fracture mechanics. Fracture analysis using Griffith's criterion, stress intensity factors, CTOD methods, and the J-Integral.

Prerequisite(s): GES 554
AEM
648
Hours
3
Theory Of Plasticity

Fundamentals of inelastic behavior of solids. Basic stress-strain relations for plastic action, yield criteria of metals, plastic instability, and slip-line field theory. Applications to axial, flexural, torsional, and cylindrically symmetric loads.

Prerequisite(s): AEM 637
AEM
649
Hours
3
Fatigue Analysis

Presentation of the strain life and fracture mechanics approaches to fatigue analysis. Review of damage parameters, mean stress effects, and cycle counting methods for uniaxial and multiaxial loading.

AEM
655
Hours
3
Advanced Composite Materials

Advanced topics in composite materials, including theories of linear orthotropic elasticity, micro-mechanics of composites, nano-composites, and sandwich structures.

AEM
662
Hours
3
Multibody Dynamics

This course presents the fundamentals of multibody dynamics: kinematics and dynamics of multibody systems, analytical dynamics, constrained dynamical systems, and flexible multibody dynamics.

Prerequisite(s): AEM 562
AEM
668
Hours
3
Advanced Dynamics Of Flight

Analysis of the rigid body dynamic motions of an aircraft; response of an airplane to actuation of controls; introduction to automatic control and stability; introduction to vehicle simulation by digital computer.

AEM
685
Hours
3
Engineering Optimization

This graduate course introduces the techniques of design optimization of engineering systems. Topics include: Basic principles of optimization theory, parameter optimization problems, linear and nonlinear programming. Unconstrained and constrained problems treated by simplex, penalty function, generalized reduced gradient methods, global optimization techniques, and surrogate modeling.

Prerequisite(s): GES 551
AEM
691
Hours
1-3
Special Problems

Independent investigations of special problems. Credit is based on the amount of work undertaken.

AEM
694
Hours
2-6
Special Project

Planning, executing, and presenting results of an individual project involving a research design, analysis, or similar undertaking.

AEM
698
Hours
1-3
Non-Dissertation Research

Research not related to dissertation.

AEM
699
Hours
1-12
Dissertation Research

Research related to dissertation.