This research area focuses on dynamical systems comprising aircraft, spacecraft, uninhabited aerial vehicles (or drones), wind turbines, and robotic systems. Related research involves exploration of the theory required to improve the performance of such systems and ensure their provably correct operation, which typically requires flight testing.
Our research aims to improve the safety, environmental impact, economics and productivity of aerospace systems. In so doing, we train students to work within interdisciplinary teams to develop new technologies that shape our society.
Graduates from the programs who participated in our research have gone on to academic positions at leading universities around the world, government agencies such as the National Wind Technology Center, and companies such as Amazon and Blue Origin.
AEM instructors are recognized for their expertise in flight dynamics, robust control, estimation, guidance and navigation, reduced-order modeling, distributed decision making and control, unmanned aerial vehicles, robotics, machine learning, and formal methods — a diversity of knowledge that yields fruitful internal and external research collaborations. This group also has strong connections across several departments at UMN.
AEM undergraduates have multiple opportunities to perform research through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and the senior-level, two-semester Design and Build course, along with various team competitions.
A UMN team won the 2017 Bayer Alka-Rocket Challenge and is the current Guinness Book of World Records record holder for the highest altitude reached by a rocket powered with a single Alka-Seltzer tablet.
Graduate students have performed research to improve the aerospace systems performance in a variety of applications — everything from using drones for precision agriculture to improving wind turbine power capture efficiency and designing more fuel-efficient aircraft through automation.