The PhD in Aerospace Engineering program at WPI gives you the tools, facilities, and support to lead independent research and advance your professional capabilities into the technology and the science of aircraft and spacecraft. The degree program is flexible and offers both full-time and part-time options so you can earn your degree while keeping up with your current responsibilities.

Our innovative and involved faculty contribute to aerospace research and currently have research under way in fluids and propulsion, dynamics and control, and materials and structure. You’ll work closely with faculty to find your best path and contribute to high-level research projects as well as developing your own body of work.

Student at lecture while professor writes on chalkboard

Curriculum

You can apply for the PhD program with a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, with the bachelor’s degree requiring a longer course of study to completion of the PhD degree. The course work requires several aerospace engineering courses; graduate seminars; and proposal, completion, and defense of a dissertation. Our faculty will help you match your research interests to your professional goals so you can launch right into a career upon graduation.

Students may use these academic planners to help determine their credits:

Getting Autonomous Vehicles to Work Together

Research

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Aerospace engineering students work closely with faculty to gain mastery in the fundamentals of aerospace engineering and a strong technical competency in modern aerospace components and systems.
Aerospace engineering students work closely with faculty to gain mastery in the fundamentals of aerospace engineering and a strong technical competency in modern aerospace components and systems.

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The world is our lab. Through coursework and research, students develop technical and scientific skills to solve real-world problems.
The world is our lab. Through coursework and research, students develop technical and scientific skills to solve real-world problems.

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Collaborative, hands-on project work means many great minds use their knowledge to achieve better solutions.
Collaborative, hands-on project work means many great minds use their knowledge to achieve better solutions.

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A degree in aerospace engineering can lead to careers in academia, industry, and business.
A degree in aerospace engineering can lead to careers in academia, industry, and business.
  • Aerodynamics Test Facility
  • Computational Fluid and Plasma Dynamics Laboratory
  • CubeSat Ground Operations Room
  • Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
  • Fluid and Plasma Dynamics Laboratory
  • Micro Fluid and Plasma Dynamics Laboratory
  • Systems and Robot Control Laboratory
  • Vacuum Test Facility

Faculty Profiles

Faculty Profiles

David J. Olinger

David J. Olinger

Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering

In my teaching I bring fluid and aerodynamics experiments, including wind tunnels, into the classroom each day. Fundamental concepts are demonstrated in these experiments, and collected data is immediately compared to the theory and equations learned during lecture. Students see that they can use what they are learning in class to predict the behavior of aerospace systems. They then go on to design improved systems in MQP projects and during their careers.

[...]
Michael A. Demetriou

Michael A. Demetriou

Professor
Aerospace Engineering

Professor Demetriou is very active with the Controls and Systems research community. He served as an Associate Editor in the IEEE Tr. on Automatic Control (2004-2007), in the ASME Journal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement, and Control (2009-2011), and in SIAM J. Control and Optimization (2009-present). He is also serving in the IEEE-Control Systems Society Conference Editorial Board as an Associate Editor (1997-present). In 2003 he established the IEEE-CSS Technical Committee on Distributed Parameter Systems and served as his first chair (2003-2012).

[...]
Nikolaos A. Gatsonis

Nikolaos A. Gatsonis

John Woodman Higgins Professor
Aerospace Engineering

Nikolaos A. Gatsonis received an undergraduate degree in Physics at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, Greece (1983), an M.S. in Atmospheric Science at the University of Michigan (1996), an M.S. (1987) and a Ph.D.

[...]
Raghvendra V. Cowlagi

Raghvendra V. Cowlagi

Associate Professor-Engineering
Mechanical Engineering

Autonomous vehicles – aircraft, cars, rovers, over- and underwater vehicles that can move in the real world by themselves without human pilotage – have gained immense importance not only due to the broad spectrum of their potential military and civilian applications, but also due to the concurrent development of sensor technology and embedded systems that enable the realization of true autonomy.

[...]
John J. Blandino

John Joseph Blandino

Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering

Prior to joining the faculty at WPI in 2001, I was a Senior Staff Engineer in the Advanced Propulsion Technology Group at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). My research at JPL included application of plasma sources for materials processing and the development of pulsed plasma and small-scale hydrazine thrusters. In the mission support area, I worked as the propulsion engineer for the Deep Space 3 Interferometer and Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) missions.

[...]
Jagannath Jayachandran

Jagannath Jayachandran

Assistant Professor
Aerospace Engineering

My research is aimed towards understanding fundamental aspects of reacting flows at thermodynamic conditions of relevance to aircraft, rocket, and automobile propulsion. Reacting flow phenomena occurring in engines are complicated as a result of turbulent flow, interaction with solid boundaries, and extreme thermodynamic conditions. In order to understand and simulate combustion phenomena under such conditions, there is a necessity to develop accurate chemical kinetic and molecular transport models in addition to fluid mechanics models.

[...]
Nikhil Karanjgaokar

Nikhil Karanjgaokar

Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering

Prior to joining the faculty at WPI in August 2015, I worked as a post-doctoral research associate at Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at California Institute of Technology. My research at Caltech focused on the development of a Granular Element Method (GEM) based force visualization technique for the study of 2D granular systems under impact loading. I examined of the role of granular fabric on the wave motion and formation of force chains in granular media.

[...]
Mark W. Richman

Mark W. Richman

Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering

After Graduation