Department of

Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering at Penn State


Aerospace engineers develop leading-edge technology and integrate it into aerospace vehicle systems for exploration, infrastructure, and defense applications. The mission of the Department of Aerospace Engineering is to advance knowledge, and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate challenging, fundamental problems in aerospace science and technology in a collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while providing our students with an education that combines rigorous academic study and the excitement of discovery with the support and intellectual stimulation of a diverse community of scholars. We prepare our students for responsible, rewarding professional careers and continuing personal growth. Additionally, we serve the various extensive communities to which we belong, in ways suited to our individual abilities and interests.

Latest News

Yamamoto receives ONR grant for scalable

manufacturing of polymer nanocomposites

May 20, 2016


Namiko Yamamoto, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, was recently awarded a $376,599 grant from the Office of Naval Research to develop scalable manufacturing of polymer nanocomposites. The goal of her research is to develop a scalable manufacturing capability of hierarchical 1D-patterned nanocomposites that will enable bulk application of multifunctional polymer-nanocomposites in aerospace structures.

Click here to read the complete news release.

Aerospace engineering alum receives

Navy’s Lead Tester award

May 19, 2016


Tom Briggs, a 1990 aerospace engineering graduate, won the 2015 Department of the Navy Test and Evaluation Award for Lead Tester.

Briggs was nominated for the award, but said he had no idea that a nomination had been submitted on his behalf. Each nomination is vetted first at the squadron level, then at the division level, then through the command level before the selections are made.

Nominations are submitted from across the different Naval Systems Commands and from Navy and Marine Corps Operational Test Agencies, he said.

Briggs said he believes he was nominated because of the work he does with his team and the F-35 test program at Patuxent River.

His responsibilities with the F-35 Test Team are to keep the engineering corps of approximately 225 flight test engineers ready to plan for, execute and report on all aspects of F-35 flight testing for the Navy and Marine Corps.

He said his team is preparing to take two F-35C aircraft on board the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN-73) for testing this summer, and also to take two F-35B aircraft across the country to go to sea and test aboard the USS AMERICA (LHA-6) in the fall. The team continues shore-based tests with new aerial refueling tankers and continues to meet the necessary test objectives for the Naval services to get the most capability out of this design.

“There have been a lot of late hours, weekends and holiday time spent at work, away from our homes and families,” Briggs said. “Our integrated team of civil servants, contractors, military members and foreign partners works together to perform high risk flight tests, keep a positive attitude, and tackle the day-to-day challenges posed by a program of this size. Being a part of a team that does so many amazing things every day can make anyone look good.”

Since graduating from Penn State, Briggs said he has been fortunate enough to land a job in the flight test field. It is a field where he had wanted to work from the time he took his first flight test class at Penn State with Hugh Smith, professor of aerospace engineering.

He started working at the Carrier Suitability Flight Test Department at Patuxent River right after graduation. In the years that followed, he ran flight test programs aboard U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, tested aircraft in Finland and has participated in flight tests aboard the United Kingdom’s HMS INVINCIBLE.

He completed a year of training and flying at the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, obtained a master’s degree in engineering management, and had the good fortune to work with some of the most talented and hardworking engineers in the country, he said.

Briggs took a side journey in 1991 to try to fly for the Navy, but had a medical disqualification and could not be a pilot. However, while he was pursuing that, he said he met his wife, Wendy. They have been married for 22 years and have two children, Katie, 16, and Jack, 13.

He said he is incredibly blessed to have a family that supports the work he does and the long hours it takes to do it.

Briggs also said he was initially surprised when he received a text message from his Chief Test Engineer congratulating him on his selection for the Lead Tester Award, and he has been extremely humbled by the good wishes from both his current team and colleagues he worked with over the course of his career.

Click here to read the official press release.




April 20, 2016


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Daniel R. Streeter has been selected as the student marshal for the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at the Penn State College of Engineering spring commencement ceremony on May 6. Streeter will receive a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering.

He has chosen Colonel Eugene L. McFeely, Commanding Officer, Penn State Air Force ROTC, to be his faculty escort at the ceremony.

Streeter is the son of Carol Streeter of Knoxville, PA, and Todd Streeter of Westfield, PA. He is a 2012 graduate of Cowanesque Valley High School in Westfield.

A member of Scabbard and Blade (2015-2016), a collegiate military honor society, Streeter received the American Legion Scholarship Excellence Medal in 2013, 2014 and 2015. He was the recipient of the Air Force ROTC Scholarship and the Leonhard Scholarship for Scholastic Excellence. He was named to the Dean’s List every semester.

He worked as a continuous improvement engineering intern for TE Connectivity, where he improved lean manufacturing practices and preventive maintenance to decrease scrap and downtime.

Streeter Studied abroad in Shanghai, learning Mandarin Chinese, during the summers of 2012 and 2013. He has also been a Vice Wing Commander with Air Force ROTC.

Following graduation, Streeter will serve as an Operations Research Analyst for the U.S. Air Force.

College of Engineering student marshals are selected for their outstanding academic achievement and contributions to engineering student life.

Shaw named student marshal for

spring 2016 commencement

April 19, 2016


Matthew J. Shaw will be the student marshal for the aerospace engineering baccalaureate degree program at the Penn State College of Engineering spring commencement ceremony on May 6. Shaw will receive a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering.

He has chosen David Spencer, professor of aerospace engineering, to be his faculty escort. College of Engineering student marshals are selected for their outstanding academic achievement and contributions to engineering student life.

Shaw is the son of Mary Ann and Michael Shaw of North Huntingdon, PA. He is a 2012 graduate of Norwin High School in North Huntingdon.

A Schreyer Scholar, Shaw completed an honors thesis titled “Experimental Evaluation for Collision of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles with Aircraft Lifting Surfaces.”

He holds membership in the Sigma Gamma Tau Aerospace Engineering Honor Society (vice president, 2015-2016) and the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society (corresponding secretary, 2015-2016).

Shaw was the recipient of the Boeing Company Scholarship, Tau Beta Pi Scholarship, Leonhard Scholarship, Pennsylvania Ready to Succeed Scholarship, Alumni Scholarship Award, Aero Pioneers Class of 1944 Scholarship and the Blue and White Scholarship.

His academic honors include the President’s Freshman Award, the President Sparks Award and the Penn State Greater Allegheny Faculty Award for Academic Excellence in Engineering. He was also a Penn State Greater Allegheny Honors Student.

Shaw’s internship experience includes B/E Aerospace Inc., where he worked as a flammability certification engineering intern researching testing trends for articles subject to FAA flammability certification testing; and Cleaveland Inc., where he served as a development engineering intern constructing and designing test setups, and also as a summer intern in the sub-assembly department.

His undergraduate research experience at Penn State includes leading the design and fabrication of a human-powered airplane project with other aerospace seniors, as well as a two-wheeled self-balancing vehicle project; assisting in the research of metacognitive learning in physics classrooms; and assisting with biodiesel production.

Shaw’s extracurricular activities included Penn State Greater Allegheny Lion Ambassadors (2012-2014), intramural soccer (2013-2014) and membership in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Penn State chapter (2016).

Following graduation, Shaw will intern at Pratt & Whitney, where he will work on aerospace controls for aircraft engines. He will then pursue a graduate degree in aerospace engineering at Penn State.

Heller earns engineering alumni society's

Staff Innovation Award

April 19, 2016


Austin (Kirk) Heller, systems administrator in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, has been named recipient of the 2016 Penn State Engineering Alumni Society (PSEAS) Staff Innovation Award.

The Staff Innovation Award recognizes a full-time staff member who has worked for the College of Engineering for at least two years and has used creativity appropriately to develop new and/or improved processes, methods, systems, products, or services and encouraged others to do the same. A recipient makes innovation a priority among team members and encourages reasonable and calculated risk taking to achieve unit goals.

Individuals are nominated by engineering staff, students, faculty, and administrators. All nominations are reviewed by a committee, appointed by the dean, which is comprised of PSEAS representatives and the director of alumni relations.

Heller, a Penn State alumnus (B.S. EE ’01), joined the aerospace engineering staff in September 2005. Prior to joining the Department, he was a programmer with MPM Technologies, Inc., where he wrote code that analyzed data from materials stress testing equipment.

His responsibilities within the aerospace department include managing the Department’s high performance Linux clusters, working with them from their conception to implementation; maintaining the Departmental servers, as well as faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate computers; and providing assistance in programming, teaching Labview and courses on Linux basics and Beowulf cluster design and methodology.

All PSEAS award winners will be formally recognized and presented with their awards during a reception on April 27 at the Nittany Lion Inn. For a full list of 2016 PSEAS award winners, click here.

Aerospace Engineering graduate students

take home honors at 2016 CERS


Penn State Aerospace Engineering graduate students Philip B. Mainwaring and Jason Reiter took home first and second place in the Afternoon Paper/Oral Presentations category at the 13th annual College of Engineering Research Symposium (CERS).

CERS is an annual student-initiated, student-run symposium featuring research papers, oral and poster presentations and an ‘Art in Science’ competition from the engineering disciplines. First- and second-place awards were given for paper/oral presentations.

First-, second- and third-place awards were given for poster presentations and Art in Science submissions.

First-place paper/oral presentation winners received $250, first-place poster winners received $150, and the first-place Art in Science winner received $150.

A list of second- and third-place winners is available on the

CERS website.

News Archive - Read past news stories

Hammond Building

Aerospace Events

Spring 2016

Outstanding Engineering
Alumnus Lecture

Engineering Ethics - The Challenge of Recognizing, Saying, and Doing
the Right Thing

John Johns

John B. Johns
Retired Deputy Assistant
Secretary of Defense
for Maintenance
U.S. Department of Defense

Thursday, April 14, 2016
11:15 a.m. - 12:05 p.m.
108 Henderson Building

Aerospace Highlights

Congratulations to our Design/Build/Fly team, led by Dr. Mark Maughmer, which placed 7th at the 19th annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Design/Build/Fly competition (DBF) held earlier this month in Tucson, AZ.