THE UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA GRADUATE CATALOG
Table of Contents > College of Engineering

11.6.2 DEPARTMENT OF AEROSPACE ENGINEERING AND MECHANICS (AEM)

Department Chair: Professor John Baker, Office: 259 HM Comer

Graduate Program Coordinator: Professor Paul Hubner, Office: 221 Hardaway Hall

 
 
The department offers programs leading to the degrees of Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics (Residential or Distance Learning) and Doctor of Philosophy. Our goal is to provide innovative and high quality programs that support the many and varied interests of our students and faculty.

The department houses excellent laboratory facilities and advanced computer facilities across three buildings: NERC, SERC and Hardaway Hall. These include wind and water tunnels, laser-based diagnostic systems, extensive servo-hydraulic materials and structural testing equipment, composite and thermoplastic materials labs, a core computing cluster capable of 7 Teraflops of sustained performance, high performance work-stations in individual laboratories and direct access to the College of Engineering 3D printing lab and fully-staffed machine shop as well as the Alabama Supercomputer Network.

Graduate students can specialize in the following aerospace or mechanics areas:

  • Aeronautics
  • Astronautics
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Solid Mechanics
  • Dynamics

Assistantships (teaching and research) are offered by the department and individual faculty to highly-qualified applicants with preference towards those pursuing a PhD. Most assistantships start in the fall and last one academic year with consideration for renewal. An assistantship provides a competitive stipend, full tuition and health benefits. No additional application is necessary. Contacting faculty with similar research interests is encouraged.

For more information about aerospace engineering and mechanics graduate programs, contact Dr. James P. Hubner.

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Admission Requirements

Admission requirements are outlined in the Admission Criteria section of this catalog. Additional admission information from the department is provided here.

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Degree Requirements

A list of current degree requirements and additional information can be found on the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics website. The following departmental requirements are in addition to those specified by the Graduate School (Degree Requirements) and the College of Engineering (MS Degree and PhD Degree requirements) detailed in earlier sections of this catalog.

MS in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics

The Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics offers a Master of Science in aerospace engineering and mechanics degree via an on-campus program and an off-campus (distance learning) program through the College of Continuing Studies.

An MSAEM can be earned by coursework only or by a combination of coursework and an approved thesis. Most distance learning students elect to complete the coursework only degree option. On-campus students supported by assistantships are expected to complete an approved thesis.

  • MSAEM Ė Thesis (Plan I) Option
  • MSAEM Ė Non-Thesis (Plan II) Option

Thesis (Plan I) Option

Credit Hours

A total of 30 semester credit hours is required for a masters of science in aerospace engineering and mechanics degree. For the MSAEM Plan I option, these credit hours consist of:

  • 6 hours of Core coursework
  • 6 hours of Mathematics coursework, including GES 554
  • 12 hours of Elective coursework
  • 6 hours of AEM 599 Thesis Research

Elective coursework must be approved by the studentís advisor. Of the 12 Elective coursework credit hours, at least 6 hours must have an AEM designation.

Core Course Requirements

All students must complete a minimum of one (1) class from the Aerospace Core listing of classes and one (1) class from the Mechanics Core listing of classes.

Aerospace Core

  • AEM 567 Orbital Mechanics
  • AEM 582 Space Systems
  • AEM 614 Airfoil and Wing Theory
  • AEM 668 Advanced Dynamics of Flight*

Mechanics Core

  • AEM 500 Intermediate Fluid Mechanics
  • AEM 530 Continuum Mechanics
  • AEM 562 Intermediate Dynamics
  • AEM 637 Theory of Elasticity

* For those without a BSAE degree, this course has the pre-requisite of AEM 568.

Mathematics Requirement

A total of six credit hours of mathematics is required. GES 554 Partial Differential Equations, which is 3 credit hours, is required and counts toward the six-credit hour mathematics requirement. The remaining three credit hours of mathematics coursework must be approved by the advisor.

Elective Coursework Requirement

A student must complete at least 12 hours of elective coursework. These courses are typically AEM courses, but other approved courses are acceptable. The specific courses must be approved by the studentís advisor.

Thesis Requirement

The student is required to submit a written thesis and defend in front of a thesis committee for approval by the committee and the graduate school.

Test Pilot School

Students that seek credit for Test Pilot School completed through the United States Air Force may send official transcripts from the TPS to the UA Graduate School for transfer credit. The student must receive a grade of at least a B in TPS for the credit to transfer. Additionally, the transfer of credit from TPS is subject to the restrictions placed on the transfer of credit by the Graduate School and the AEM Department. A maximum of six hours may be transferred. For additional information, view the transfer credit policy at the UA Graduate School website.

Transfer Credit

With approval of the UA Graduate School, a maximum of 12 hours of graduate credit for coursework completed at another institution may be applied toward the 24 credit hour coursework requirement for the MSAEM Plan I degree. The maximum of 12 hours of graduate transfer credit includes the six hours of credit transferred from TPS, if applicable.

All credit toward the MSAEM degree, including transfer credit, must have been earned during the six years (18 fall, spring and summer semesters) immediately preceding the date on which the MSAEM degree is to be awarded. Students who have earned post-baccalaureate course credit are encouraged to explore transfer credit opportunities. For additional information, view the transfer credit policy at the UA Graduate School website.

Non-Thesis (Plan II) Option

Credit Hours

A total of 30 semester credit hours is required for a Master of Science in aerospace engineering and mechanics degree. For the MSAEM Plan II option, these credit hours consist of:

  • 6 hours of Core coursework
  • 6 hours of Mathematics coursework (including GES 554)
  • 18 hours of Elective coursework

Elective coursework must be approved by the studentís advisor. Of the 18 Elective coursework credit hours, at least 12 hours must have an AEM designation.

Core Course Requirements

All students must complete a minimum of one (1) class from the Aerospace Core listing of classes and one (1) class from the Mechanics Core listing of classes.

Aerospace Core

  • AEM 567 Orbital Mechanics
  • AEM 582 Space Systems
  • AEM 614 Airfoil and Wing Theory
  • AEM 668 Advanced Dynamics of Flight*

Mechanics Core

  • AEM 500 Intermediate Fluid Mechanics
  • AEM 530 Continuum Mechanics
  • AEM 562 Intermediate Dynamics
  • AEM 637 Theory of Elasticity

* For those without a BSAE degree, this course has the pre-requisite of AEM 568.

Mathematics Requirement

A total of six credit hours of mathematics is required. GES 554 Partial Differential Equations, which is three credit hours, is required and counts toward the six-credit hour mathematics requirement. The remaining three credit hours of mathematics coursework must be approved by the advisor.

Elective Coursework Requirement

A student must complete a least 18 hours of elective coursework. These courses are typically AEM courses, but other approved courses are acceptable. The specific courses must be approved by studentís advisor.

Comprehensive Examination or Culminating Experience

Students pursuing the MSAEM Plan II degree option have the choice of completing one of the following options to satisfy the requirement of a comprehensive examination or culminating experience:

  • Pass one of the Ph.D. qualifying examinations that serves as the comprehensive examination or
  • Complete a culminating experience and receive faculty advisor approval for the written report detailing the culminating experience. MSAEM Plan II students may, but are not required to, enroll in AEM 594 Special Projects, three credit hours, complete the culminating experience, and submit the written report detailing the culminating experience as part of the AEM 594 course requirements.

The student must have completed at least 18 hours of coursework prior to submitting the written report for the culminating experience. The approved written report for the culminating experience must be submitted no later than the thesis deadline date during the semester in which the student intends to graduate. The comprehensive examination option may be attempted only twice.

Test Pilot School

Students that seek credit for Test Pilot School completed through the United States Air Force may send official transcripts from the TPS to the UA Graduate School for transfer credit. The student must receive a grade of at least a B in TPS for the credit to be transferable. Additionally, the transfer of credit from TPS is subject to the restrictions placed on the transfer of credit by the Graduate School and the AEM Department. A maximum of six hours can be transferred. For additional information, view the transfer credit policy at the UA Graduate School website.

Transfer Credit

With approval of the UA Graduate School, a maximum of 12 hours of graduate credit for coursework completed at another institution may be applied toward the 30 credit hour coursework requirement for the MSAEM Plan II degree. The maximum of 12 hours of graduate transfer credit includes the six hours of credit transferred from TPS, if applicable.

All credit toward the MSAEM degree, including transfer credit, must have been earned during the six years (18 fall, spring, and summer semesters) immediately preceding the date on which the MSAEM degree is to be awarded. Students who have earned post-baccalaureate course credit are encouraged to explore transfer credit opportunities. For additional information, view the transfer credit policy at the UA Graduate School website.

Doctor of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics

The Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics offers a Doctor of Philosophy degree on campus. A research-based degree, students are required to propose, complete and defend an approved dissertation on a research topic that contributes to the field of aerospace engineering and/or engineering science and mechanics.

Credit Hours

A total of 72 semester credit hours is required for a Ph.D. degree. These credit hours consist of:

  • 6 hours of Core coursework
  • 9 hours of Mathematics coursework (including GES 551 and GES 554)
  • 33 hours of Elective coursework
  • 24 hours of AEM 699 Dissertation Research

Elective coursework must be approved by the studentís advisor. Of the 48 coursework credit hours, at least 24 must have an AEM designation.

Core Course Requirements

All students must complete a minimum of one (1) class from the Aerospace Core listing of classes and one (1) class from the Mechanics Core listing of classes.

Aerospace Core

  • AEM 567 Orbital Mechanics
  • AEM 582 Space Systems
  • AEM 614 Airfoil and Wing Theory
  • AEM 668 Advanced Dynamics of Flight*

Mechanics Core

  • AEM 500 Intermediate Fluid Mechanics
  • AEM 530 Continuum Mechanics
  • AEM 562 Intermediate Dynamics
  • AEM 637 Theory of Elasticity

* For those without a BSAE degree, this course has the pre-requisite of AEM 568.

Mathematics Requirement

A total of nine credit hours of mathematics is required. GES 554 Partial Differential Equations, three credit hours, is required and counts toward the nine credit hour mathematics requirement. The remaining six credit hours of mathematics coursework must be approved by the advisor.

Elective Coursework Requirement

A student must complete at least 33 hours of elective coursework. These courses are typically AEM courses, but other approved courses are acceptable. The specific courses must be approved by the studentís advisor, in consultation with studentís graduate advisory committee.

Ph.D. Qualifying Examinations

Ph.D. qualifying examinations are required of all doctoral candidates. Students in the program are required to successfully complete two qualifying examinations, one in the area of mathematics and one based on the studentís core coursework. Each qualifying examination may only be taken twice, meaning a student has only two chances to pass each of the qualifying examinations. A student must pass all Ph.D.-qualifying examinations within 18 months after completing 24 credit hours of AEM coursework and at least nine months prior to graduation.

The written mathematics qualifying examination will be offered twice per year and will cover the material presented in:

  • GES 551 Matrix and Vector Analysis,
  • GES 554 Partial Differential Equations, and
  • MATH 238 Applied Differential Equations.

The oral core coursework qualifying examination will be organized twice per year and will be administered by the studentís faculty advisor and a faculty committee of instructors from each of the core areas. The Graduate Program Coordinator coordinates the Ph.D. qualifying examinations.

Test Pilot School

Students that seek credit for Test Pilot School completed through the United States Air Force may send official transcripts from the TPS to the UA Graduate School for transfer credit. The student must receive a grade of at least a B in TPS for the credit to transfer. Additionally, the transfer of credit from TPS is subject to the restrictions placed on the transfer of credit by the Graduate School and the AEM Department. A maximum of six hours can be transferred. For additional information, view the transfer credit policy at the UA Graduate School website.

Transfer Credit

With approval of the UA Graduate School, a maximum of 24 hours of graduate credit for coursework completed at another institution may be applied toward the 48 credit hour coursework requirement for the Ph.D. degree. The maximum of 24 hours of graduate transfer credit includes the six hours of credit transferred from TPS, if applicable. Note that transfer credit must have been completed within six years of admission to the UA Graduate School.

Students who have an earned a masterís of science degree are encouraged to explore transfer credit opportunities. For additional information, view the transfer credit policy at the UA Graduate School website.

 

Course Descriptions (AEM)

Master's students may, with permission of the department and approval by the Graduate School, receive credit for six (6) hours of 400-level credit. No 400-level courses can be approved for application to a PhD degree, other than the maximum of six (6) hours already completed as part of a master's degree. A master's student may, with approval of a petition, meet prerequisites with a combination of related coursework and experience.

AEM 500 Intermediate Fluid Mechanics. (3) Three hours.
Development and use of the integral and differential forms of the equations of continuity, momentum, and energy with ideal fluids and compressible fluids. Advanced topics in fluid mechanics, including potential flow, boundary layer flow, compressible flow, and open channel flow.

AEM 508 Propulsion Systems. (3) Three hours.
Basic propulsion dynamics, thermodynamics of fluid flow, combustion kinetics, air-breathing engines, rockets, design criteria, performance, and advanced propulsion systems.

AEM 513 Compressible Flow. (3) Three hours.
Fundamentals of high-speed aerodynamics theory discussed. Topics covered include: normal and oblique shock waves, heat addition and friction effects in one-dimensional flow, expansion waves in two-dimensional flow, quasi 1-D nozzle flow, unsteady compressible flow calculations using method of characteristics, shock tube relations.

AEM 514 Experimental Aerodynamics. (3) Three hours.
The course provides a laboratory counterpart to concepts discussed in aerodynamics and fluid mechanics. Course topics include statistical and uncertainty analysis techniques, design of experiments, computer-based data-acquisition, sensors for fluid mechanic measurements, and aerodynamic measurement techniques and facilities.

AEM 516 Helicopter Theory. (3) Three hours.
Critical examination of the propulsive airscrew, including induced velocity relations, flow patterns, and similarity. Practical applications approached through existing theory and practice.

AEM 520 Computational Fluid Dynamics. (3) Three hours.
Introduction to basic mathematical concepts and engineering problems associated with numerical modeling of fluid systems. Application of the state of the art numerical models to engineering problems. Fundamentals of Finite Difference and Finite Volume Methods and their applications in fluid dynamics and heat transfer problems will be covered.

AEM 528 Space Propulsion. (3) Three hours.
Students are introduced to different types of space propulsion systems in this class. Different rockets, such as: monopropellants, bi-propellant, solid, liquid, nuclear and electric rockets, are discussed in detail. Working principles of these rockets, their intended use and their design are discussed. Power limited and energy limited rocket working principles are given. Several rocket design projects are assigned throughout the class.

AEM 530 Continuum Mechanics. (3) Three hours.
Introduction to Tensor Analysis. Analysis of Stress and Strain at a point. Development of the equations representing conservation laws for a continuum. Study of constitutive relationships for fluids and solids. Application of field equations to simple boundary value problems in solid mechanics and fluid mechanics.

AEM 546 Intermediate Solid Mechanics. (3) Three hours.
Two-dimensional theory of elasticity; exact and approximate solutions of bending, torsion, and buckling for bars; open sections and curved beams; stresses in axisymmetric members; and finite-element and energy methods.

AEM 548 Stochastic Mechanics. (3) Three hours.
Prerequisite: GES 500.
This course develops, analyzes, and discusses the application of uncertainty quantification in engineering systems and design methodologies to include uncertainties in the systems. Topics include: classification of uncertainties and methods of quantification, perturbation approaches, polynomial chaos, sampling techniques, random processes and Bayesian analysis.

AEM 552 Composite Materials. (3) Three hours.
First exposure to composite materials. Focus on how heterogeneity/anisotropy in composites influence thermomechanical behavior. The behavior of both continuous and short fiber reinforced composites will be emphasized. Stress analysis for design, manufacturing processes and test methods of composite materials will be covered.

AEM 555 Nondestructive Evaluation. (3) Three hours.
Prerequisite: MATH 238 and PH 105 or equivalent or instructor consent.
Fundamental theories, limitations and instrumentation of nondestructive test methods used for metal, polymer and composites materials. The ultrasonic, acoustic emission, vibration, thermography, eddy current, penetrant, and radiography methods are emphasized.

AEM 562 Intermediate Dynamics. (3) Three hours.
Dynamics of systems in moving coordinate frames; Lagrangian formulation and Hamilton's principle; stability and perturbation concepts for rigid body motion; motion of systems of rigid bodies in three dimensions.

AEM 569 Orbital Mechanics. (3) Three hours.
Introduction to engineering application of celestial mechanics; high-speed, high-altitude aerodynamics; and other fields related to the contemporary problems of space vehicles. Fundamentals of applied dynamics, nomenclature of space flight, space environment and solar system, and two-body orbits. Keplerís laws, coordinate transformations, and related studies.

AEM 570 Mechanical Vibrations. (3) Three hours.
Free and forced vibrations, both undamped and damped. Systems with many degrees of freedom are formulated and analyzed by matrix methods. Experimental techniques of vibration measurement are introduced.

AEM 574 Structural Dynamics. (3) Three hours.
Theoretical foundations of structural dynamics and application of methods to modeling, analysis, and design.

AEM 577 Advanced Linear Control. (3) Three hours.
Modern techniques for the analysis and design of linear control systems. Matrix formulation; multivariable control systems; state-variable concepts; discrete-time systems; optimization; and statistical design methods.

AEM 581 Complex Engineering Systems. (3) Three hours.
Introduction to the concepts and techniques associated with the analysis of complex systems, dynamic systems, chaos, lumped parameter modeling, feedback, networks, thermal/electrical circuit analogies, entropy.

AEM 584 Space Environment. (3) Three hours.
This course provides an introduction to the effects of the space environment on spacecraft. The harsh space environment introduces several unique challenges to the spacecraft designer. Focus on the impact of their environment and how best to mitigate these effects through early design choices will give the satellite designer better tools. Topics include: geomagnetic field, gravitational field of the Earth, Earthís magnetosphere, vacuum, solar UV, atmospheric drag, atomic oxygen, free and trapped radiation particles, plasma, spacecraft charging, micrometeoroids.

AEM 588 Advanced Space Propulsion and Power. (3) Three hours.
Prerequisites: AEM 408 or AEM 508 or equivalent or with instructor consent.
This course will explore concepts, theory, and performance of electrical, nuclear, and exotic space propulsion systems for use in space. This exploration will include fundamental physical processes exploited by these propulsion schemes. The course will also include concept, theory and performance of power generation methods in space. Systems studied will include low and high power systems intended for short term or long term applications. Thermal, solar and nuclear devices and the energy conversion means for converting energy from these sources into useful electrical power will be studied.

AEM 591:592 Special Problems. (1-6) One to six hours.
Independent investigations of special problems. Credit is based on the amount of work undertaken.

AEM 594 Special Projects. (2-6) Two to six hours.
Planning, executing, and presenting results of individual project involving a research design, analysis, or similar undertaking.

AEM 598 Non-Thesis Research. (1-3) One to three hours.
Research not related to thesis.

AEM 599 Thesis Research. (1-12) One to twelve hours.
Research related to thesis.

AEM 614 Airfoil and Wing Theory. (3) Three hours.
Compressible and incompressible airfoil and wing theory.

AEM 617 Aircraft Systems. (3) Three hours.
Prerequisite: BSAE or AEM 614 or consent of instructor.
This course presents a comprehensive approach to modern aircraft systems design topics.

AEM 621 Viscous Flow. (3) Three hours.
Development of basic boundary layer equations and concepts. Classical incompressible solutions for laminar boundary layer, approximate solutions, and concepts of turbulence.

AEM 622 Turbulent Flows. (3) Three hours.
Introduction to the physics and modeling of turbulent flows. This course will cover the governing equations of multi-species viscous laminar flows, origin and characteristics of turbulence, mathematical methods for obtaining the governing equations of turbulent flows, various modeling techniques for resolving closure problems associated with the governing equations of turbulent flows.

AEM 624 Hypersonic Flow. (3) Three hours.
Prerequisites: instructor consent, graduate standing.
This course develops, analyzes and discusses the application of hypersonic flow theory. Topics include: Hypersonic Shock/expansion wave relations, approximate methods to calculate lift and drag on hypersonic vehicles, boundary layer equations for hypersonic flow, and hypersonic viscous interactions.

AEM 625 Advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics. (3) Three hours.
Prerequisite: AEM 420 or AEM 520.
Finite volume methods for numerical analysis of transport problems including fluid dynamics and heat transfer in complex curvilinear boundary fitted domain will be developed and applied.

AEM 635 Finite Element Methods. (3) Three hours.
Finite-element formulations in the areas of solid mechanics, fluid mechanics, and heat conduction; isoparametric elements; assembly process; solution of stiffness equations; and convergence of results.

AEM 637 Theory of Elasticity. (3) Three hours.
Equations of linear elasticity, principal stresses and strains, stress and displacement potentials, energy principles, and numerical methods. Boundary value problems of elasticity.

AEM 638 Introduction to Experimental Mechanics. (3) Three hours.
Theory and application of electrical resistance strain gauges for stress analysis and for use as transducers. Study of circuits and instruments used for strain measurement. Theory and application of photoelasticity for measurement of stress. Fundamentals of servohydraulic testing.

AEM 644 Engineering Fracture Mechanics. (3) Three hours.
Prerequisite: GES 554.
Linear elastic and elastic-plastic fracture mechanics. Fracture analysis using Griffith's criterion, stress intensity factors, CTOD methods, and the J-Integral.

AEM 648 Theory of Plasticity. (3) Three hours.
Prerequisite: AEM 637.
Fundamentals of inelastic behavior of solids. Basic stress-strain relations for plastic action, yield criteria of metals, plastic instability, and slip-line field theory. Applications to axial, flexural, torsional, and cylindrically symmetric loads.

AEM 649 Fatigue Analysis. (3) Three hours.
Presentation of the strain life and fracture mechanics approaches to fatigue analysis. Review of damage parameters, mean stress effects, and cycle counting methods for uniaxial and multiaxial loading.

AEM 655 Advanced Composite Materials. (3) Three hours.
Advanced topics in composite materials, including theories of linear orthotropic elasticity, micro-mechanics of composites, nano-composites, and sandwich structures.

AEM 662 Multibody Dynamics. (3) Three hours.
Prerequisite: AEM 562.
This course presents the fundamentals of multibody dynamics: kinematics and dynamics of multibody systems, analytical dynamics, constrained dynamical systems, and flexible multibody dynamics.

AEM 668 Advanced Dynamics of Flight. (3) Three hours.
Analysis of the rigid body dynamic motions of an aircraft; response of an airplane to actuation of controls; introduction to automatic control and stability; introduction to vehicle simulation by digital computer.

AEM 685 Engineering Optimization. (3) Three hours.
This graduate course introduces the techniques of design optimization of engineering systems. Topics include: basic principles of optimization theory, parameter optimization problems, linear and nonlinear programming. Unconstrained and constrained problems treated by simplex, penalty function, generalized reduced gradient methods, global optimization techniques, and surrogate modeling.

AEM 691 Special Problems. (1-3) One to three hours.
Independent investigations of special problems. Credit is based on the amount of work undertaken.

AEM 694 Special Project. (2-6) Two to six hours.
Planning, executing, and presenting results of an individual project involving a research design, analysis, or similar undertaking.

AEM 699 Dissertation Research. (3-12) Three to twelve hours.
Research related to dissertation.
 


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