National Institute of Aerospace (NIA)

NIA LogoThe National Institute of Aerospace conducts leading edge scientific and engineering research in seven broad technical areas of interest to NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC): Revolutionary Aerospace Systems, Concepts, and Analysis; Planetary Capture and Entry Technology; Aerodynamics, Aerothermodynamics, and Acoustics; Structures and Materials; Airborne Systems; Atmospheric and Vehicle Sensor System Technology; and Atmospheric Chemistry and Radiation Science. The NIA also pursues research opportunities in related fields of interest to our resident research staff, member universities and industrial affiliates.

While there are many university, industry, and government lab–based scientists and engineers who will be engaged in aerospace engineering and atmospheric science research at the NIA and more generally in the fields, a continuous supply of fresh talent will be needed to keep these activities vibrant and growing. In addition, the knowledge that will drive these fields forward will continue to change as innovations reveal new ways of thinking. These changes will demand either a newly educated workforce or the continuous upgrade of scientific knowledge for those already established in the fields. NIA has established and is growing a set of educational programs that bring important knowledge to scientists and engineers in the aerospace engineering and atmospheric science fields, to the ultimate benefit of society.

NIA has already taken a major step toward the development of a world-class educational environment by bringing together six highly regarded universities: Georgia Tech, University of Maryland, North Carolina A&T, North Carolina State, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia. This team has a portfolio of demonstrated educational capabilities that are acknowledged by leaders in the science and engineering community to be among the best in the world. The NIA graduate program is being established at the NIA headquarters in Hampton, Va. offering M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the member universities. These educational opportunities are available to NASA employees and other partners of the Institute through local instruction and advanced distance learning facilities.

As a result of this organization of Institute courses, NIA students enrolling in degree programs will have access to the best of the member universities. While NIA students will enroll in a degree program at one of the member universities and ultimately receive a degree from that institution, he or she will be able to take courses offered by all of the six universities on-site or via distance learning at the NIA headquarters. There will be a significant faculty presence at NIA headquarters consisting of distinguished professors and liaison professors from each university, as well as a vibrant research atmosphere created by on-site researchers, post-docs, graduate students and visiting faculty. The NIA universities have agreed to consider the NIA headquarters as an extended university campus and students in Hampton would be able to satisfy all university residency requirements. Graduate degrees (M.S. and Ph.D) are available in aerospace, engineering mechanics and physics, materials, mechanical and systems engineering. Future program additions will include science and engineering courses related to atmospheric science research. The resulting aerospace and atmospheric science programs available through one entity, the NIA, would be unrivaled throughout the world.


The Center for Adaptive Aerospace Research

Prof. James HubbardProf. James Hubbard
University of Maryland
Director, Center for Adaptive Aerospace Research


The Center for Adaptive Aerospace Vehicle Technology within the National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) develops and supports multidisciplinary teams pursuing revolutionary research to enable efficient multi-point vehicles providing performance on demand and operating in an integrated airspace-vehicle environment.

Center focus areas include active flow and noise control and unsteady fluid mechanics and their integration with adaptive structural concepts, and intelligent distributed sensors and flight controls.

The Center explored the application of emerging technologies for revolutionary vehicle concepts, including the exploration of bio-inspired approaches to controls and autonomous behaviors, and the potential application of biomimetic, nanostructured, multifunctional materials.