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Department Research Areas

Our faculty and staff work in a broad array of research areas, some of which are directly supported by graduate programs. For information on our graduate technical divisions, visit the Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy pages. 

Aerodynamics and Propulsion

Aerospace Engineering researchers at Maryland are advancing methods to improve the efficiency, safety, reliability, and cost of propulsion systems for applications both in aircraft as well as exploring and enhancing technologies and spacecraft for deep space exploration.

Dynamics, Control, and Autonomy

Research in dynamics, control, and autonomy covers a broad range of topics addressing the motion of vehicles, and at Maryland, focused research areas include multi-vehicle control, autonomous vehicles, and bio-inspired collective behavior. The Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory (CDCL) uses applications in robotics and the quantitative modeling of animal groups, such as fish and mosquitos, to develop cooperative control of autonomous vehicles for both the air and sea.


Aerospace engineers in hypersonics research are investigating a wide variety of high-speed flow challenges to improve the fundamental understanding. The department’s High-Speed Aerodynamics and Propulsion Laboratory received funding through Defense University Research Instrumentation Program grant to develop a unique facility for the accurate simulation of hypersonic flows.


The department is home to world-renowned faculty in the area of rotorcraft research. These faculty are part of the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center which facilitates cutting-edge multi- and inter-disciplinary research aimed at solving technological barriers and innovating rotorcraft technologies.    

Space Systems

Space systems research in the department encompasses a broad array of research areas from improving systems, technologies and vehicles for space exploration to computational and experimental research at the intersection of planetary science, plasma physics, granular mechanics and spacecraft design. The department is home to the Space Systems Laboratory which houses the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, a 50-foot diameter, 25-foot deep water tank used to simulate the microgravity environment of space. It is the only facility of its size housed on a university campus. 

Structural Mechanics and Composites

Research in structural mechanics and composites provides an environment for the development and enhancement of composite materials and structures for varied applications in aircraft designs. One such application is using smart materials to improve vehicle systems designed to protect occupants against in injury in the event of repetitive shock, crash and blast loads.

Unmanned Autonomous Systems

The University of Maryland has emerged as a leader in autonomous systems, unmanned vehicles, and robotics. From unmanned air vehicles to underwater and terrestrial autonomous robots, researchers at UMD are leading the way in this groundbreaking field, with potential applications related to disaster resilience, weather monitoring, agriculture, security, search and rescue, product delivery, and efficient transportation. The department is home to the University of Maryland Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site, a leading research and operations facility led by experts in military and civilian aviation, engineering, and project management.