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Associate Professor Sally Anne McInerny, Department Head
Office: 205 Hardaway Hall

The Aerospace Engineering Area of the aerospace engineering and mechanics department 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 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 Mechanics Area concerns 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.

The undergraduate curriculum in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics leads to a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering and 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 or mechanics, other related technical areas, and professional areas such as law and medicine.

Taking the Fundamentals of Engineering examination is a departmental requirement for graduation.

Program Objectives

Undergraduate aerospace engineering students are expected to

Research. A broad-based program of research is being conducted by the faculty of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics. Research efforts are concentrated in three areas:

Dynamics and Controls: aeroacoustics, aeroelasticity, genetic algorithms, multidisciplinary modeling, navigation and gyroscopes, neural networks, numerical models, structural dynamics and control of flexible bodies, and vibroacoustics

Fluid Mechanics: aerospace propulsion, computational fluid mechanics, experimental aerodynamics, flow control, heat transfer, luminescent sensing, novel LDV and PIV development, transport phenomena, and turbulence modeling

Solid Mechanics and Structures: advance composites, elasticity and plasticity, fatigue/fracture mechanics, machine design, material joining, mechanical characterization, MEMS, nondestructive evaluation, nonlinear mechanics, penetration mechanics, photoelasticity, and stress analysis

Excellent computing and laboratory facilities are available to support these areas of research. 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 aerospace engineering, master of science in engineering science and mechanics, and doctor of philosophy in engineering science and mechanics. Please refer to the University of Alabama graduate catalog for details of these programs.


Advanced Material 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.

Aircraft Modeling, Simulation, and Design. This laboratory provides students with an advanced computing facility for the modeling and simulation of aircraft. The lab is equipped with a state-of-the-art computer network and variety of software packages, including finite element and CFD packages. Research includes preliminary design and manufacturing of Unmanned Arial Vehicles (UAVs).

Aerospace Structures Laboratory. This laboratory is equipped for characterization of components of flight vehicle structures under tension, compression, bending, and cyclic loading. A servohydraulic testing machine equipped with a high-temperature and cryogenic environmental chamber is available. Strain gage mounting devices and multi-channel digital strain indicators are extensively used for strain monitoring and transducer design. A machine shop and composite materials laboratory facilitate specimen and structural component fabrication. In addition to most of the more common transducers, the laboratory also has two- and three-dimensional photoelastic equipment for conducting stress analysis.

Computational Laboratory. This laboratory is a state-of-the-art personal computer network. Students utilize this laboratory to complete homework assignments and 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.

Composite Materials Laboratory. The laboratory includes facilities for manufacturing, characterization and modeling of advanced composite materials. A compression molding hot press, filament winder, pultrusion equipment, extruder and resin infusion vacuum pumps are available for manufacturing thermoset, thermoplastic and nanocomposites film, plates and structural components. Dispersion equipment such as ultrasonic bath, tip sonication and mechanical high shear mixer are also available for processing polymer nanocomposites. A MTS servohydraulic testing machine and Hopkinson Bar test equipment facilitate characterization of composite materials under static, cyclic and high strain rate loading. Fracture analysis and microstructural studies are carried out using available optical, scanning and transmission electron microscopes (central facility). The laboratory is equipped with a number of computational workstations for analytical and numerical simulations. ABAQUS, NASTRAN, DYNA 3D, ALGOR finite element codes, and a HyperMesh geometric model generator are available in workstations for finite element analysis. An in-house FEA code for predicting long term environmental durability of polymer and polymer composites is also available.

Experimental Stress Analysis Laboratory. 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.

Impact and Penetration Laboratory. The Impact and Penetrations Laboratory at the University of Alabama was established in 1992. The purpose of the laboratory is to investigate the performance of projectile and target materials in the extreme environment of a penetration test. Projectiles are launched in a variety of calibers as large as 0.500 inch and as small as 0.167 inch. Targets used have been armor, concrete, sand, soil, and glass. Impact velocities have been as high as 1,000 meters per second. All the launchers are smooth bore powder guns which were designed and built at the University. The laboratory also includes a Taylor cylinder test facility which accommodates all of the aforementioned specimen calibers and data from the tests allows us to estimate the properties of ductile materials at strain rates as high as 105/sec.

W. D. Jordan Laboratory. This laboratory serves as the primary facility for the AEM 251 Mechanics of Materials Laboratory. The facility contains four universal testing machines for the performance of tension, compression, bending, and shears 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.

Laser-Doppler Velocimetry Laboratory. The laser-Doppler velocimetry lab includes a 15-watt Ar-Ion laser, a frequency domain processor, several Bragg cells and photomultipler tubes for three-component velocity measurements. The lab includes a miniature two-component, a miniature three-component, and a three-component homemade fiber-optic LDV probes for simultaneous velocity measurements in flow fields ranging from low-speed to high-speed applications. Current research includes velocity and turbulence measurements inside the engine of a commercial car engine, and high- and low-speed jet flows.

Luminescent Imaging Laboratory. This research laboratory is used to develop, study, and apply molecular luminescent techniques used in the field of experimental fluid and solid mechanics. Applications of these techniques are widely useful to the aerospace and automotive communities as these methods bridge physical testing and analytical modeling in a variety of areas. Examples include load and heating predictions on aircraft, evaluation of fluid-structure interactions, validation of computational methods, nondestructive detection of potential failure locations on mechanical components, and inverse-method techniques to determine load and boundary conditions. The facility includes digital imaging equipment, a suite of supporting optics and excitation lamps, PC-based data acquisition and conditioning workstations, optical work benches, and specimen preparation area including a six foot bypass fume-hood.

Subsonic Wind Tunnel Laboratory. The closed-loop subsonic wind tunnel achieves flow velocities in excess of 100 miles per hour. The tunnel has a settling-chamber to test-section contraction ratio of four, and has a 10-square-foot working test section. The two story wind-tunnel laboratory includes a 10-student classroom used during laboratory classes. The tunnel is equipped with a NACA-6 type, six-component force-balance system and two-component traversing system. An accompanying eight-component strain-gage unit is used together with the force-balance system. The wind tunnel instrumentation also includes a hot-wire anemometry unit for velocity and turbulence measurements and a 16-channel pressure scanner for static pressure measurements.

Supersonic Wind Tunnel Laboratories. The large supersonic wind tunnel is a six-inch by six-inch model utilized in the M=1.5 to 3.5 range. The system includes a 1,000-cubic-foot high-pressure air storage facility, two compressors, aftercooling, and airdrying accessories. Plenum chamber pressure is controlled using three pressure transducers together with a fuzzy logic controller. Nine pressure transducers and accompanying hardware and software are available for total or static pressure measurements. The tunnel is equipped with a four-component force-balance system and accompanying eight-component strain-gage data acquisition system. A Schlieren/Shadowgraph optical system using a Strobotac light source is also present for flow visualization.

The high-speed fluid mechanics laboratories also include a small-scale high Reynolds number (20–150 x 106/m), variable Mach (0.25 through 4.0) wind tunnel with a four-inch by four-inch test section. This facility was constructed for basic fluid mechanics research. The tunnel is used in high-speed boundary layer, missile aerodynamics, reaction control jet, and flow control studies.

Propulsion Laboratory. The propulsion laboratory is centered on a small turbojet engine and its accompanying test stand. The turbojet engine generates a maximum of 20 pounds of thrust, runs on kerosene, diesel, or standard jet engine fuels, and weighs less than 12 pounds. Although small-scale, the turbojet engine operates just like any gas turbine engine. It has an inlet, single-stage radial compressor, reverse flow combustion chamber, axial turbine, and an exhaust nozzle. The engine, mounted inside a test stand, is fitted with thermocouples, pressure taps, and strain gages allowing all aspects of the engine to be monitored in real-time. The test stand has been modified to be used as a test bed for rocket and air-breathing propulsion research. Several Artificial Intelligence algorithms including, PID, fuzzy logic and neural networks have been applied to the engine under various research projects.

Water Tunnel Laboratory. This water tunnel has a 15 inch wide by 30 inch tall by 9 foot long test section and is capable of speeds up to 1 ft/s. This tunnel has been designed to run at very low turbulence levels (0.5 percent or less) and also has a two dye injection system. The tunnel is currently outfitted for obtaining boundary layer measurements over a flat plate. The laboratory also includes a Time Resolved Digital Particle Image Velocimetry (TR-DPIV) system capable of capturing images of the flow at 1,000 feet per second. This system acquires velocity data within a two-dimensional plane by imaging and tracking particles that have been illuminated in the flow through the use of a laser sheet.


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 SemesterHours
AEM 125 Introduction to Aerospace Engineering2
CH 101 General Chemistry I (NS) 4
EN 101 English Composition I (FC) 3
GES 131 Foundations of Engineering I2
MATH 125 Calculus I (MA) 4
DR 100 Sketching1
Second Semester
EC 110 Principles of Microeconomics (SB)3
EN 102 English Composition II (FC) 3
GES 132 Foundations of Engineering II
    or CS 114 and CS 116
MATH 126 Calculus II (MA) 4
PH 105 General Physics with Calculus I (N) 4
First Semester
AEM 249 Algorithm Development and Implementation3
AEM 201 Statics3
MATH 227 Calculus III (MA) 4
PH 106 General Physics with Calculus II (N) 4
Humanities (HU), literature (L), or fine arts (FA) elective3
Second Semester
AEM 250 Mechanics of Materials I3
AEM 251 Mechanics of Materials Laboratory1
AEM 264 Dynamics3
AEM 311 Fluid Mechanics3
ECE 225 Electric Circuits
    or ECE 320 Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering
MATH 238 Applied Differential Equations I3
First Semester
AEM 313 Aerodynamics I3
AEM 314 Aircraft Performance (C) 3
AEM 341 Aerospace Structural Analysis3
AEM 349 Engineering Analysis3
ME 215 Thermodynamics I3
Second Semester
AEM 413 Aerodynamics II3
AEM 368 Flight Dynamics and Controls 3
AEM 461 Computational Methods for Aerospace Structures3
History (HI) or social and behavioral sciences (SB) elective3
Humanities, literature, or fine arts elective3
First Semester
AEM 402 Integrated Aerospace Design I 3
AEM 408 Propulsion Systems 3
AEM 468 Flight Dynamics and Controls II3
AEM 495 Aerospace Engineering Seminar (W) 2
Humanities (HU), literature (L), or fine arts (FA) elective3
Science elective3
Second Semester
AEM 404 Integrated Aerospace Design II3
Aerospace engineering electives6
History (HI) or social and behavioral sciences (SB) electives3
AEM 451 Structural Design and Testing (W) 4
Total: 128 hours

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