Faculty Directory

Paley, Derek A.

Paley, Derek A.

Willis H. Young Jr. Professor of Aerospace Engineering Education
Director, Maryland Robotics Center
Director, Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory
Director, Autonomous Micro Air Vehicle Team
Aerospace Engineering
The Institute for Systems Research
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Maryland Robotics Center
3150 Glenn L. Martin Hall and 3156 Iribe Center

Derek A. Paley is Director of the Maryland Robotics Center and Willis H. Young Jr. Professor of Aerospace Engineering Education in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and the Institute for Systems Research at the University of Maryland. He is the founding director of the UMD Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory, the UMD Autonomous Micro Air Vehicle Team, and the UMD FIRE Autonomous Unmanned Systems Stream. Paley is an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a member of the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center, the Maryland Robotics Center, the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, the Burgers Program for Fluid Dynamics, the Applied Mathematics & Statistics, and Scientific Computation Program, and the Brain and Behavior Initiative. Paley received the B.S. degree in Applied Physics from Yale University in 1997 and the Ph.D. degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 2007. He is the recipient of the Yale University Henry Prentiss Becton Prize for Excellence in Engineering and Applied Science in 1997, the Princeton University Harold W. Dodds Honorific Fellowship in 2006, the National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2010, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2012, the University of Maryland E. Robert Kent Teaching Award for Junior Faculty in 2014, and the AIAA National Capital Section Engineer of the Year in 2015. Paley was a Fellow in the 2013–2014 Office of Naval Research Sabbatical Fellowship Program and is a Fellow in the 2019–2020 UMD ADVANCE Leadership Fellows Program. Paley has authored more than 130 peer-reviewed publications including one textbook: Engineering Dynamics: A Comprehensive Introduction (Princeton University Press, 2011). He teaches introductory dynamics, advanced dynamics, aircraft flight dynamics and control, and nonlinear control. Paley’s research interests are in the area of dynamics and control, including cooperative control of autonomous vehicles, adaptive sampling with mobile networks, and spatial modeling of biological groups. His research is based on support by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. Paley is Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He serves as Associate Editor of AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics.


B.S., Yale University, 1997 (Applied Physics)

Ph.D., Princeton University, 2007 (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

Honors and awards

Received NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Award, 2010

Elected AIAA Associate Fellow (highest grade below fellow), 2010

Elected IEEE Senior Member (highest grade below fellow), 2011

Selected as Fellow in the 2013-2014 Office of Naval Research Sabbatical Leave Program

Received Willis H. Young Jr. Faculty Fellowship, Department of Aerospace Engineering, 2013-2016

Received the 2012 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)

E. Robert Kent Teaching Award for Junior Faculty, Clark School of Engineering, University of Maryland, 2014

Engineer of the Year, AIAA National Capital Section, 2015

Selected Speaker at the U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, National Academy of Engineering, 2016

Robert M. Sanner Broken Propeller Award, Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland, 2016, 2017, and 2018

Fellow, UMD ADVANCE Leadership Fellows Program, 2019–2020

Professional memberships

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA Associate Fellow)

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE Senior Member)

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM Member)

Professional Service

Member, AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Technical Committee, 2008-2013

Member, IEEE Control Systems Society, Aerospace Controls Technical Committee, 2013-2017

Associate Editor, AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamicsm 2013-present

Associate Editor, American Control Conference, 2013 & 2014

Associate Editor, IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems, 2014-2017

Guest Editor, Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Special Issue on Bioinspired Soft Robotics, 2016



  • Dynamics, estimation, and control: Cooperative control of autonomous vehicles
  • Mobile sensor networks: Adaptive sampling of spatiotemporal processes
  • Biocomplexity and bioinspiration: Quantitative modeling of animal groups and behavior

Clark School student teams sweep MAV competition

FIRE freshmen, AE undergrads and MEng Robotics students take first place in both categories at VFS Micro Air Vehicle Student Challenge.

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.

Inspired by Nature: Autonomous Underwater Robotics

Clark School Prof. Derek Paley wants autonomous underwater vehicles to have the same capabilities as fish.

Derek Paley interviewed for WYPR's 'On the Record'

Paley talks about how understanding the fluid movements of fish can help improve underwater vehicles.

Paley Promoted to Professor

Aerospace Engineering Associate Professor Derek Paley promoted to rank of professor.

Aerospace Engineering Student Wins NDSEG Fellowship

Senior Patrick Washington Receives National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship

Four UMD Aerospace Engineering Students Named Penton Aviation Week Network’s 20 Twenties

Free, Kumar, Ng and Weinstein recognized as tomorrow’s engineering leaders.

Paley is Principal Investigator for $2M 'SEA-STAR' grant

Researchers will create soft underwater robot appendages that mimic functionality found in sea stars; Werley is a co-PI.

Alumni Frontin and Stebbins Awarded NASA Fellowships

Two B.S. 2014 UMD aerospace engineering alums, Cory Frontin and Spencer Stebbins, receive NASA fellowships.

Synchronized swimming: How startled fish shoals effectively evade danger

Understanding response dynamics of startled fish reveals how orientation within the group effects escape chances, may offer insights into emergency response planning.

Paley Presents at NAE 2016 Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

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

Shishika and Petro Selected for 2016 Future Faculty Program

Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. students Daigo Shishika and Elaine Petro selected for Clark School Future Faculty Program.

Aerospace Engineering Students and Alumni Receive NSF Fellowships

Students Brown and Free, and alumni Mills awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships.

Derek Paley to speak at 2016 US Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

NAE-sponsored event brings together emerging engineering leaders.

Barkley and Hersey Receive L-3 Graduate Scholarships

Aerospace Engineering graduate students Brett Barkley and Sean Hersey receive 2015-2016 L-3 Scholarships.

UMD Hosts Capitol Hill Panel on Autonomous Systems

Experts gathered to discuss UAVs in an event hosted by the Clark School on July 16.

New ONR grant for bio-inspired underwater sensing and control

Derek Paley is PI; alum Xiaobo Tan is one of the co-PIs.

Derek Paley is AIAA National Capital Section's Engineer of the Year

Award given for Paley's work in collective behavior in robotic and natural systems.

Paley Awarded 2014 E. Robert Kent Teaching Award for Junior Faculty

Paley to receive 2014 E. Robert Kent Teaching Award during Clark School Winter Commencement.

Aerospace Engineering Faculty Honored at University Celebration of Scholarship and Research

15 Aerospace Engineering faculty were recognized for their research and scholarly achievements.

Shrestha and DeVries Win 2014 Graduate Student Research Awards Competition

Elena Shrestha and Levi DeVries win Department of Aerospace Engineering Graduate Student Research Awards Competition.

Bergbreiter and Paley Honored at White House Ceremony

UMD researchers were honored yesterday at the White House as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

Robotic fish research profiled in Baltimore Sun

Derek Paley, Sean Humbert and alumnus Xiaobo Tan are collaborators on the project.

Aerospace Faculty Recognized at 15th Annual Research Leaders Luncheon

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

Paley Awarded Willis H. Young Jr. Faculty Fellowship

Professor receives three-year fellowship and is named Willis H. Young Jr.  Professor of Aerospace Engineering Education.

Two Clark School Faculty Members Receive Presidential Early Career Awards

Bergbreiter and Paley honored by the White Houseas outstanding early-career scientists.

Engineering Dynamics textbook by Paley, Kasdin in use at top schools

The textbook introduces undergraduate students to engineering dynamics with an accessible, comprehensive and innovative approach.

REU in Miniature Robotics holds final project symposium

Nine projects range from wings for MAVs to vision sensors for small robots to small grasping hands.

DeVries Awarded Link Foundation Fellowship

DeVries Will Conduct Research on Bio-Inspired Unmanned Vehicles

Derek Paley is PI for new AFOSR grant

Paley will work on "Optimized Routing of Intelligent, Mobile Sensors for Dynamic, Data-Driven Sampling."

ENAE100 has Final Poster Presentations in Kim Building

ENAE100 students presented their final project posters on December 12th

Miniature Robotics REU students give final presentations

Ten undergrads from around the country give talks on their summer projects.

Derek Paley featured in new NSF research video

Video explains how unmanned aircraft could help determine hurricane strength.

AGRC is a Vertical Lift Research Center of Excellence

Rotorcraft Center Garners VLRCOE Designation

Professor Derek Paley Publishes New Book!

Dr. Paley Has Co-Authored a New Textbook with Princeton Colleague

Professor Derek Paley elected as AIAA Associate Fellow

Paley Elected as AIAA Associate Fellow

Leishman, Schaler Named Goldwater Scholars

Aerospace, mechanical engineering students receive premier award for undergraduates.

Paley Wins NSF CAREER Award

Research will develop bio-inspired motion algorithms for autonomous vehicles.

Awais Raza Receives Golden Key Boeing Scholarship

Awais Raza Receives Golden Key Boeing Scholarship

Dr. Derek Paley Awarded NSF Grant

Dr. Paley Receives NSF Grant for Weather Related Research

Dr. Paley joins aerospace faculty

Dr. Derek A. Paley joins the aerospace faculty in Fall 2007