Aerospace technology has grown out of the problems of design, construction, and operation of vehicles that maneuver above the Earth’s surface.  These vehicles range from ground-effect machines and helicopters to aircraft and spacecraft. Design of such vehicles has always been challenging, not only because of the requirement that they operate in a hostile environment, but also because of the high premium placed on light weight, high efficiency and great reliability.

These same requirements apply not only to future spacecraft and high performance transport aircraft, but also to the next generation of ground transportation, such as high-speed trains, over-water transportation, and automated motor vehicles.  Aerospace engineering is a field where state-of-the-art technologies are applied every day. It is an exciting profession with outstanding career opportunities in which physical sciences, mathematics and computers are combined in the design of air and space vehicle systems and components to achieve high performance with limited size and weight. This requires aerospace engineers to constantly develop and apply the most advanced technologies.

Our twenty-six full-time faculty members have a high level of enthusiasm and accessibility and a strong dedication to excellence in teaching and research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Curriculum and research activities focus on fundamental and advanced topics organized within gas dynamics, structures, and dynamics & control specialties. Our world-class facilities are accessible to all Aerospace students for coursework and research activities. The University of Michigan has a distinguished heritage of student project teams engaging students at all levels, from first-year undergraduates to graduate students. Aerospace students can choose from a variety of space systems (e.g., S3FL and MXL), unmanned aircraft (e.g., Solarbubbles), or interdisciplinary projects supported by the Aero department and Wilson Student Team Project Center.  Enrollments in our Department are strong at all levels, with annual graduation rates in recent years of approximately 120 BSE students, 60 MS students, and 20 PhD students. We also have a strong network of over 4,000 alumni doing work in all aspects of aerospace and related fields.

The Department has published a new perspective titled Advancing Aerospace that maps the future of the aerospace enterprise over the next decade and beyond.  Our assessment is based on identifying the key elements that will drive the most dramatic changes in this field over the next two decades. These in turn represent exciting new opportunities for those that correctly anticipate and adapt to them.

We also describe nine principal initiatives that we have implemented at Michigan to adapt for this future, positioning ourselves for the opportunities it offers and providing the agility that allows us to continue adapting as the future evolves.  Together, these specific initiatives ensure that our Department and its graduates will continue to succeed as leaders in aerospace engineering over the next decade and beyond.