Faculty Directory

Akin, David

Akin, David

Director of Space Systems Laboratory
Aerospace Engineering
Maryland Robotics Center
2100D Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility


  • B.S., Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( Aeronautics & Astronautics)
  • M.S.,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Aeronautics & Astronautics)
  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Aeronautics & Astronautics)


Professional Services

  • Member, AIAA Distinguished Lecturer Program
  • Member, AIAA Space Automation and Robotics Technical Committee Chairman 1998-99
  • Member of NASA Telerobotics Intercenter Working Group
  • Member of NASWA EVA Forum
  • Member, NASA Solar System Exploration Subcommittee, Space Science Advisory Committee
  • Member, NASA Task Force on Technology Readiness
  • Member, NASA Mars Exploration Program Formulation and Planning Team
  • Organizer, NASA Mars Exploration Program Research Outreach Workshop
  • Chairman, Space Systems Faculty Search Committee (x2)
  • Chairman, Systems Design Curriculum Committee

Institutional Services

  • Member, Systems Dynamics and Control Curriculum Committee
  • Member of Undergraduate Committee
  • Member, University Diving Control Board
  • Member, Aerospace Engineering Undergraduate Committee


Space systems and operations; space human factors; telerobotics; space simulation; and space applications of artificial intelligence. Projects include NASA’s astrobiology project (ASTEP), a morphing upper torso, the Ranger satellite servicing system, an advanced research/simulation suit, the visual positioning system, partial gravity simulation, automatic rendezvous and docking, SCAMP, and an exoskeleton.

Conference Proceedings

  • David L. Akin, Craig R. Carignan, and Stephen R. Roderick, "Autonomous Dexterous Sampling: From the Arctic Ocean to Mars and Beyond" Earth-Space 2008 Conference, Long Beach, CA, March 2008
  • David L. Akin and Shane Jacobs, "Investigations into Several Approaches to EVA-Robot Integration" 2007-01-3232, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • Shane Jacobs, Elizabeth Benson, David Akin, "Kinematic Analysis of a Robotically Augmented Pressure Suit for Planetary Exploration" 2007-01-3171, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • Agnieszka A. Koscielniak and David L. Akin, "Development and Testing of a Metabolic Workload Measuring System for Space Suits" 2007-01-3212, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • Elizabeth Benson, Shane Jacobs, and David Akin, "Investigation of a Cable-Driven Parallel Mechanism for Pressure Suit Arm Resizing and Motion Assistance" 2007-01-3170, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • John Mularski and David Akin, "Water Immersion Ballasted Partial Gravity for Lunar and Martian EVA Simulation" 2007-01-3145, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • Craig M. Lewandowski and David L. Akin, "Development of a Single-Fluid Consumable Infrastructure for Portable Life Support Systems" 2007-01-3246, 37th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Chicago, IL, July 2007
  • L. Aksman, C. Carignan, and D. Akin, "Force Estimation Based Compliance Control of Harmonically Driven Manipulators", IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Rome, Italy, April 2007
  • David L. Akin, "Human/Robotic Systems to Enable In-Space Operations in the CEV Era" AIAA-2006-7390, AIAA Space 2006 Conference and Exhibit, San Jose, California, Sep. 19-21, 2006
  • Brian Roberts and David Akin, "Robotic Servicing of Hubble Space Telescope: Lessons Learned from a Short-Lived Program" AIAA-2006-7393, AIAA Space 2006 Conference and Exhibit, San Jose, California, Sep. 19-21, 2006
  • David Akin, Brian Roberts, Stephen Roderick, Walter Smith, and Jean-Marc Henriette, "MORPHbots: Lightweight Modular Self-Reconfigurable Robotics for Space Assembly, Inspection, and Servicing" AIAA-2006-7408, AIAA Space 2006 Conference and Exhibit, San Jose, California, Sep. 19-21, 2006
  • Shane E. Jacobs, David L. Akin, Jeffrey R. Braden, and David Graziosi, "Morphing Upper Torso: A Novel Concept in EVA Suit Design" 2006-01-2142, 36th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Norfolk, VA, July 2006
  • Shane E. Jacobs, David L. Akin, and Jeffrey R. Braden, "System Overview and Operations of the MX-2 Neutral Buoyancy Space Suit Analogue" 2006-01-2287, 36th International Conference on Environmental Systems, Norfolk, VA, July 2006

Roving Reporter

We Road-Test Engineering Students’ New Moon Buggy Concept at NASA

Diving Deeper into Competition, and Recruitment

UMD’s RoboSub team sets sights on blasting the 2024 competition out of the water.

A “Lint Roller” for Moon Dust

UMD researchers are creating a portable device that astronauts can use to get rid of clingy moon dust.

UMD Takes Best in Theme Award at 2022 NASA RASC-AL Competition

Competition challenges student teams to develop solutions for space exploration.

Celebrating Black Aerospace Engineers: Jarred Young ('09, M.S. '13, Ph.D. '17)

Inspired at an early age to become a propulsion engineer, Young is helping a new generation of engineers achieve their dreams.

Two UMD Teams Take Best in Theme at NASA’s RASC-AL Competition

Competition challenges student teams to design concepts for space exploration.

Unlocking the Mysteries of Fire ... in Space

A University of Maryland engineer's work aboard the International Space Station could lead to cleaner engines and power plants, and safer living conditions in space.

UMD Team Takes a Top Spot in NASA RASC-AL Design Competition

Four University of Maryland teams competed in this year’s NASA 2020 Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkage (RASC-AL) competition.

Two University of Maryland Teams Selected for 2021 NASA M2M X-Hab Challenge

Competition challenges students to develop some of the next generation technologies to enhance NASA’s Moon to Mars space exploration missions.

Congratulations to the 2020 Aerospace Engineering Honors Class

Students complete final presentations to earn “Honors Citation.”

Student 3D Prints Personal Protective Equipment for Area Hospitals

Quinn Kupec’s efforts featured on North Dakota news outlet KVRR.

Found in Space

How an 18-year-old student engineering project showed up in a new sci-fi book.

Clark School Team to Compete in NASA's RASC-AL Competition

A team of Clark School students will compete in this year's RASC-AL competition, held June 18-20, 2019.

Bioinspired robotics REU students present final projects

The REU was led by Hugh Bruck and Sarah Bergbreiter, along with Clark School faculty and graduate student mentors.

UMD RASC-AL Team Wins Big, Akin Recognized with PEACH Award

A team of 19 undergraduate students won first place for the RASC-AL theme category and second place in the overall competition.

Elon Musk Tweets Back

A question and answer session with Quinn Kupec, an undergraduate researcher in Aerospace Engineering, who recently grabbed the attention of Elon Musk.

UMD Takes Second Place in NASA RASC-AL Competition

Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts – Academic Linkages (RASC-AL) Space Design Competition

UMD Takes 1st in American Helicopter Society Student Challenge

The Terrapin Sheriffs was one of three international teams selected to participate.

UMD Team Takes Second at NASA BIG Ideas Design Competition

Aerospace Engineering undergrads design winning solar electric propulsion (SEP)-powered space tug.

Alumnus David Van Wie Elected to the National Academy of Engineering

Aerospace Engineering alumnus inducted into NAE for contributions to contributions to hypersonic technology.

Two UMD Teams NASA BIG Idea Challenge Finalists

Two UMD Aerospace Engineering student teams selected as finalists in NASA's BIG Idea Challenge.

Paley Presents at NAE 2016 Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

Three Clark School faculty attend NAE 2016 Frontiers of Engineering Symposium.

Hasan Receives NASA Space Flight Awareness Silver Snoopy Award

NASA recognizes Aerospace Engineering graduate student Syed Hasan for outstanding mission contributions.

UMD Students Win 2015 RASC-AL Competition

Aerospace engineering students design winning concept for a Mars settlement and lunar refueling station.

UMD Team Wins 2015 Robo-Ops and Sets New Course Record

Maryland students and their rover 'Frigg' win first place at the 2015 Robo-Ops Competition.

Aerospace Students Excel at 14th AIAA YPSE Conference

UMD students placed in both presentations and paper categories at the 14th AIAA YPSE Conference.

Five Aerospace Engineering Faculty Promoted to AIAA Associate Fellows

Akin, Bowden, Fourney, Humbert and Kothera promoted to American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Associate Fellows

UMD Students Place Second in 2014 RASC-AL Competition

Aerospace engineering undergrad students place second overall in 2014 RASC-AL competition.

UMD Alumni Hatch Sub-$300 Consumer 3D Printer, Raise $3.3 Million on Kickstarter

Alumni-founded company races past $50,000 goal in 11 minutes, hits $1 million in 25 hours.

Aerospace Faculty Recognized at 15th Annual Research Leaders Luncheon

15 Department of Aerospace Engineering's faculty honored for successful research funding efforts.

Elaine Gessow Passes at 88

Wife of former UMD Aerospace Engineering Chair and helicopter pioneer passes away peacefully.

UMD Takes Second at 2013 RASC-AL Competition

Undergraduate aerospace design team places second at NASA RASC-AL competition.

Demeter Takes Second Place in 2013 Robo-Ops

Students guide planetary rover robot to second place in RASC-AL Exploration Robo-Ops Competition.

Aero Faculty Build Partnership with JPL

NASA's JPL and U-Md. Aerospace Seek Stronger Partnership

Clark School Alumnus Assists with 24-Mile Jump from Space

Shane Jacobs helped design suit worn by Felix Baumgartner in speed of sound-breaking dive.

AE Faculty Honored at Research Leaders Luncheon

10 AE Faculty Represent Department at Research Leaders Luncheon

Hoyer Honors UM Solar Decathlon Team

Praise for team entered into the Congressional Record.

eXploration Habitat (X-Hab) Academic Innovation Challenge

Prof. David Akin's X-Hab Project is Awarded Funding by the AIC Program

Clark School a Finalist in NASA X-Hab Competition

Clark School students to build inflatable space habitat in NASA competition finals.

Two Big Wins for Clark School Teams

Aerospace engineering students win American Helicopter Society, NASA design competitions.

MX-2 Suit Research is featured in Popular Science

SSL's MX-2 Suit Research is featured in Popular Science magazine

Project TURTLE Wins NASA Competition

Terrapin Undergraduate Rover for Terrestrial Lunar Exploration awarded first place

University Honors Names Levashov as a Best Paper

Levashov's Hardware Study Named by Honors Program as a Best Paper

Inaugural Anderson Scholarship Awarded to Kirk

Madeline Kirk announced as first recipient of Anderson Scholarship in Aerospace Engineering

UM $50K Business Plan Competition Winners Announced

Three winners chosen among nine finalists.

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)

  • Associate Fellow