Next Previous Contents Search UA

[College of Engineering]



Associate Professor C. Karr, Department Head
Office: 205 Hardaway Hall

The Aerospace Engineering Area is concerned primarily with the design and analysis of vehicles such as aircraft, spacecraft, and missiles that operate at all speeds and altitudes. To design these vehicles, the aerospace engineer must have a broad background that includes a knowledge of the flow of gases and liquids; the strength, stiffness, and stability of lightweight structures; propulsion systems; guidance and control systems; and the effects of environmental conditions. The undergraduate curriculum in aerospace engineering provides a background in the basic sciences, engineering sciences, humanities, applied analysis, and design that enables graduates to take advantage of the many career opportunities in the aeronautical industry, the space program, and related engineering activities. Graduates with suitable academic records are also prepared to pursue advanced degrees in aerospace engineering, related technical areas, and professional areas such as law and medicine.

Program Objectives

Educational objectives for the aerospace engineering program are specific. Aerospace engineering students are expected to

Aerospace Structures Laboratories. These laboratories provide facilities for evaluating the applicability of structural analysis procedures and design methods to typical structural components of flight vehicles. The capacity exists to conduct studies in load-deflection and stress analysis of aircraft components and high-temperature behavior of materials. In addition to most of the more common transducers, the laboratories also have two- and three-dimensional photoelastic equipment for conducting stress analysis. A composite-materials laboratory equipped for specimen and structural component fabrication is also available for undergraduates' use.

Computational Laboratory. This laboratory provides students with computer facilities through a state-of-the-art personal computer network. Students utilize this laboratory to complete homework assignments and/or special projects that require computational resources. The facilities are available to all aerospace engineering students on a first-come, first-served basis. A wide variety of software is available on the network. Access to the University's mainframe computer and the state of Alabama supercomputer is available through the network.

Experimental Aerodynamics Laboratories. These laboratories provide facilities for instruction and research in aerodynamic phenomena. A supersonic wind tunnel is available for studies up to approximately three times the speed of sound; a closed-circuit subsonic tunnel allows studies up to approximately 100 miles per hour. Both wind tunnels are equipped with computerized data-acquisition instruments permitting investigation of a wide variety of problems. Specialized instrumentation in the laboratories allows visualization of shock-wave patterns, measurement of aerodynamic moments and forces, and analysis of turbulent flow fields. A high-pressure facility is also available to support other types of aerodynamic research.

Flight Dynamics Laboratory. This laboratory can simulate, through a state-of-the-art digital computer network, a wide variety of engineering systems. Phenomena as diverse as spacecraft reentry into the atmosphere, aircraft landings, and highway travel by automobiles can be simulated. The equipment is available for student and faculty investigations into flight dynamics, aeroelasticity, flight-control systems, and flight training. Computer equipment includes high-resolution graphic displays, SGI Indy graphics generators, and other microcomputers. Two fixed-base simulators provide realistic helicopter and air-transport simulation.

Intelligent Control Laboratory. This laboratory was created with the objectives of designing and testing intelligent control systems as applicable to aircraft and spacecraft control systems and educating students through course development in intelligent control and computational intelligence. The lab is fully equipped for developing and implementing neuro-control, fuzzy control, and genetic algorithms software; building, modifying, and testing electronic equipment; building and maintaining a wide range of model aircraft; and flying simulated aircraft using a man-in-the-loop tabletop engineering simulator. The lab contains five functional "practice" aircraft for learning remote piloting skills and three aircraft presently capable of acting as a platform for closed-loop system hardware. This lab is also equipped with several IBM PC-compatible computers.

Research. A broad-based program of research is being conducted by the faculty of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics. Part-time employment is available for graduate and undergraduate students on many of these research projects. The wide range of research activity is indicated by these representative projects of the past and present: elastic stability and vibration of shell structures, numerical simulation of dynamic systems, plume-induced supersonic flow separation, thermal stress studies, nonlinear structural analysis, computational fluid dynamics, numerical grid generation, orbital mechanics, thrust vectoring, mini-ROV wind-tunnel testing, optimal guidance for air-to-air interception of maneuvering targets, time-dependent fatigue crack growth at elevated temperatures, flight dynamics graphic simulation, nonlinear characterization of polymeric materials, dynamic analysis of flexible vehicles traversing flexible guideways, analysis and design of composite material components, simulation of material processing including metal matrix composites, design of space propulsion systems, networking of simulators, application of genetic algorithms to the control of spacecraft, design of "smart" structures, and analytical modeling of high-rate processes and dynamic testing of materials, intelligent engine control, fatigue analysis of spot welds, AI-based computer modeling tools for controlling slag in electric arc furnaces, NASA opportunities for visionary academics (NOVA), low cost gyro for navigation, operational flight loads monitoring and analysis, launch vehicle aeroelasticity, study of the dynamics, durability, and NVH characteristics of automotive structures, enhanced inclusion removal from steel vibroacoustics expert system, vibration monitoring system on the MH53J helicopter, rotor safety issues, and investigation of jets for hypersonic vehicle and flow control, an investigation of the influence of roughness on the high-speed boundary-layer flow, an investigation of high-temperature supersonic jet interaction flowfields, early detection of insulation breakdown in PWM controlled motors, engine conditioning monitoring systems.

Graduate program. A program leading to the degree of master of science in aerospace engineering is offered by the department; details of the program are contained in the University of Alabama graduate catalog.

The Engineering Science and Mechanics Area is the engineering science that describes the response of solid or fluid bodies to force systems. Virtually all undergraduate engineering students are required to take courses in engineering science and mechanics in preparation for work in their chosen professional areas.

W. D. Jordan Laboratory. This laboratory serves as the primary facility for AEM 251 Mechanics of Materials Laboratory. The facility contains four universal testing machines for the performance of tension, compression, bending, and shear tests of specimens and structures; two torsion testing machines; an impact machine; three hardness testing machines; a microcomputer system for data collection, manipulation, and graphic output; and other mechanical testing equipment.

Advanced Materials Behavior Laboratory. This laboratory is a research and instructional facility for the study of solid materials under monotonic, cyclic, and constant load conditions. Three MTS machines, two Instron machines, two creep machines, and one drop-weight impact machine are the principal load frames. A microcomputer is used for data acquisition and control in this facility.

Experimental Stress Analysis Laboratories. These laboratories are used in the experimental measurement of force, strain, displacement, and acceleration, and for the stress analysis of plane and three-dimensional photoelastic models. Equipment for both static and dynamic measurement is available, including oscilloscopes, accelerometers, load cells, LVDTs, and a variety of strain-measuring devices. Equipment for photoelastic analysis includes a transmission polariscope, a reflective polariscope, a stress-freezing oven, and associated equipment for model preparation.

Fluid Mechanics Laboratory. The laboratory contains multiple setups of several basic experiments allowing small laboratory groups for maximum effectiveness. The laboratory provides for the study of (a) fluid properties such as viscosity, surface tension, density, and pressure-density relationships; (b) fluid kinematics, by techniques allowing fluid streamlines to be observed; and (c) fluid dynamics, by measurement of velocities, pressures, forces, head loss, or similar characteristics of fluid dynamic systems. Research capability is provided by a water tunnel and associated equipment for cavitation and boundary layer studies.

Computational Mechanics Laboratory. This laboratory features a network of engineering workstations, various PCs, and terminals. The network contains two IBM RS/6000 workstations, microcomputers, and a laser printer for text and graphics. It provides connectivity to the IBM 3090 and Cray X-MP 24.

Research. A vigorous program of research is being conducted by the faculty of the Division of Engineering Science and Mechanics. Research efforts are concentrated in three areas: computational fluid and solid mechanics; mechanical behavior of advanced materials; and genetic algorithms and machine learning. Excellent computing and laboratory facilities are available to support these areas. Active research projects exist in the three areas of concentration. Research assistantships are available for undergraduate and graduate students on many of these research projects.

Graduate programs. Programs are offered leading to the degrees of master of science in engineering science and mechanics and doctor of philosophy. Please refer to the University of Alabama graduate catalog for details of these programs.


In addition to maintaining the grade point averages specified by the University and the College of Engineering, aerospace engineering students must earn at least "C" averages in all aerospace engineering courses designated AEM. Deficiencies in the AEM grade average may be overcome only by repeating courses in which grades of "D" or below were previously earned.

First Semester Hours
AEM 125 Introduction to Aerospace Engineering 2
CH 131 General Chemistry for Engineering Students I (NS) 4
EN 101 English Composition I (FC) 3
GES 131 Foundations of Engineering I 3
MATH 131 Calculus I for the Integrated Curriculum (MA) 4
Second Semester
EC 110 Principles of Microeconomics (SB) 3
EN 102 English Composition II (FC) 3
GES 132 Foundations of Engineering II 2
MATH 132 Calculus II for the Integrated Curriculum (MA) 4
PH 105 General Physics with Calculus I (N) 4
First Semester
AEM 249 Algorithm Development and Implementation 3
GES 231 Statics (or AEM 201 Statics) 3
MATH 231 Mathematics III for the Integrated Curriculum (MA) 4
PH 106 General Physics with Calculus II (N) 4
Humanities (HU), literature (L), or fine arts (FA) elective 3
Second Semester
AEM 250 Mechanics of Materials I 3
AEM 251 Mechanics of Materials Laboratory 1
AEM 264 Dynamics 3
AEM 311 Fluid Mechanics 3
GES 232 Integrated Electrical Systems 3
MATH 232 Mathematics IV for the Integrated Curriculum 3
First Semester
AEM 313 Aerodynamics I 4
AEM 314 Aircraft Performance (C) 3
AEM 341 Aircraft Structural Analysis 3
AEM 349 Engineering Analysis 3
ME 215 Thermodynamics I 3
Second Semester
AEM 413 Aerodynamics II 3
AEM 368 Flight Dynamics and Controls 3
AEM 372 Dynamic Systems 3
AEM 451 Structural Design and Testing (W) 4
History (HI) or social and behavioral sciences (SB) elective 3
First Semester
AEM 402 Integrated Aerospace Design I 3
AEM 408 Propulsion Systems 3
AEM 461 Computational Methods for Aerospace Structures 3
AEM 495 Aerospace Engineering Seminar (W) 2
Aerospace engineering elective 3
Humanities (HU), literature (L), or fine arts (FA) elective 3
Second Semester
AEM 404 Integrated Aerospace Design II 3
Aerospace engineering elective 3
History (HI) or social and behavioral sciences (SB) electives 3
Humanities (HU), literature (L), or fine arts (FA) electives 3
Science elective 3
Total: 128 hours

Top Next Previous Contents Search UA