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This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Aeronautics and Astronautics

Emeriti: (Professors) Peter Bradshaw, Arthur E. Bryson, Robert H. Cannon, I-Dee Chang, Chi-Chang Chao, Richard Christensen,* Daniel B. DeBra,* Erastus H. Lee, Jean Mayers, Bradford W. Parkinson,* J. David Powell,* Charles R. Steele, Stephen W. Tsai,* Milton D. Van Dyke, Walter G. Vincenti

Chair: Charbel Farhat

Professors: Brian J. Cantwell, Fu-Kuo Chang, Per Enge, Charbel Farhat, Antony Jameson, Ilan Kroo, Sanjiva Lele, Robert W. MacCormack, Stephen Rock, George S. Springer, Claire Tomlin

Associate Professors: Juan Alonso, Sanjay Lall

Courtesy Professors: C. W. Francis Everitt, J. Christian Gerdes, Ronald K. Hanson, Lambertus Hesselink

Consulting Professors: Heinz Erzberger, G. Scott Hubbard, Belgacem Jaroux, Arif Karabeyoglu, Cynthia H. Null, Thomas H. Pulliam, Stanley Weiss, Gregory Zilliac

Consulting Assistant Professor: Steven Murray

* Recalled to active duty.

Phone: (650) 723-3317

Web Site:

Courses offered by the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics are listed under the subject code AA on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

The Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics prepares students for professional positions in industry, government, and academia by offering a comprehensive program of graduate teaching and research. In this broad program, students have the opportunity to learn and integrate multiple engineering disciplines. The program emphasizes structural, aerodynamic, guidance and control, and propulsion problems of aircraft and spacecraft. Courses in the teaching program lead to the degrees of Master of Science, Engineer, and Doctor of Philosophy. Undergraduates and doctoral students in other departments may also elect a minor in Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Requirements for all degrees include courses on basic topics in Aeronautics and Astronautics, as well as in mathematics, and related fields in engineering and the sciences.

The current research and teaching activities cover a number of advanced fields, with emphasis on:

Aeroelasticity and Flow Simulation

Aircraft Design, Performance, and Control

Applied Aerodynamics

Computational Aero-Acoustics

Computational Fluid Dynamics

Computational Mechanics and Dynamical Systems

Control of Robots, including Space and Deep-Underwater Robots

Conventional and Composite Materials and Structures

Direct and Large-Eddy Simulation of Turbulence

High-Lift Aerodynamics

Hybrid Propulsion

Hypersonic and Supersonic Flow

Multidisciplinary Design Optimization

Navigation Systems (especially GPS)

Optimal Control, Estimation, System Identification

Spacecraft Design and Satellite Engineering

Turbulent Flow and Combustion

Mission of the Undergraduate Program in Aeronautics and Astronautics

The mission of the undergraduate program in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering is to provide students with the fundamental principles and techniques necessary for success and leadership in the conception, design, implementation, and operation of aerospace and related engineering systems. Courses in the major introduce students to engineering principles. Students learn to apply this fundamental knowledge to conduct laboratory experiments and aerospace system design problems. Courses in the major include engineering fundamentals, mathematics, and the sciences, as well as in-depth courses in aeronautics and astronautics, dynamics, mechanics of materials, fluids engineering, and heat transfer. The major prepares students for careers in aircraft and spacecraft engineering, space exploration, air and space-based telecommunication industries, teaching, research, military service, and many related technology-intensive fields.

Learning Outcomes

The department expects undergraduate majors in the program to be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the department's undergraduate program. Students are expected to be able:

  1. to apply the knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering.
  2. to design and conduct experiments, as well to analyze and interpret data.
  3. to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
  4. to function on multidisciplinary teams.
  5. to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.
  6. to understand professional and ethical responsibility.
  7. to communicate effectively.
  8. to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
  9. to demonstrate a working knowledge of contemporary issues.
  10. to apply the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
  11. to transition from engineering concepts and theory to real engineering application.

Graduate Programs in Aeronautics and Astronautics

Admission—To be eligible to apply for admission to the department, a student must have a bachelor's degree in engineering, physical science, mathematics, or an acceptable equivalent. Students who have not yet received a master's degree in a closely allied discipline will be admitted to the master's program; eligibility for the Ph.D. program is considered after the master's year (see "Doctor of Philosophy" below). Applications for admission with financial aid (fellowships or assistantships) or without financial aid must be received and completed by December 4 for the next Autumn Quarter.

Information about admission to the Honors Cooperative Program is included in the "School of Engineering" section of this bulletin. The department may consider HCP applications for Winter or Spring quarters as well as for Autumn Quarter; prospective applicants should contact the department's student services office.

Further information and application forms for all graduate degree programs may be obtained from Graduate Admissions, the Registrar's Office,

Waivers and Transfer Credits—Students may receive departmental waivers of required courses for the M.S. degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics by virtue of substantially equivalent and satisfactorily performed course work at other institutions. A waiver petition (signed by the course instructor and adviser) should be submitted to the student services office indicating (1) the Stanford University course number and title, and (2) the institution, number(s), and title(s) of the course(s) wherein substantially equivalent material was treated. If a waiver is granted, the student must take an additional technical elective, chosen in consultation with their adviser, from graduate courses in Aeronautics and Astronautics. The total 45-unit requirement for the master's degree is not reduced by course waivers.

A similar procedure should be followed for transfer credits. The number of transfer credits allowed for each degree (Engineer and Ph.D.) is delineated in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin; transfer credit is not accepted for the M.S. degree. Transfer credit is allowed only for courses taken as a graduate student, after receiving a bachelor's degree, in which equivalence to Stanford courses is established and for which a grade of 'B' or better has been awarded. Transfer credits, if approved, reduce the total number of Stanford units required for a degree.

Fellowships and Assistantships—Fellowships and course or research assistantships are available to qualified graduate students. Fellowships sponsored by Gift Funds, Stanford University, and Industrial Affiliates of Stanford University in Aeronautics and Astronautics provide grants to several first-year students for the nine-month academic year to cover tuition and living expenses. Stanford Graduate Fellowships, sponsored by the University, provide grants for three full years of study and research; each year, the department is invited to nominate several outstanding doctoral or predoctoral students for these prestigious awards. Students who have excelled in their master's-level course work at Stanford are eligible for course assistantships in the department; those who have demonstrated research capability are eligible for research assistantships from individual faculty members. Students may also hold assistantships in other departments if the work is related to their academic progress; the criteria for selecting course or research assistants are determined by each hiring department. A standard, 20 hours/week course or research assistantship provides a semi-monthly salary and an 8-10 unit tuition grant per quarter. Research assistants may be given the opportunity of additional summer employment. They may use their work as the basis for a dissertation or Engineer's thesis.


The work of the department is centered in the William F. Durand Building for Space Engineering and Science. This 120,000 square foot building houses advanced research and teaching facilities and concentrates in one complex the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics as well as some of the activities of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

The Durand Building also houses faculty and staff offices and several conference rooms. Attached to the building is a modern classroom building equipped for televising lectures; it contains a lecture auditorium.

Through the department's close relations with nearby NASA-Ames Research Center, students and faculty have access to one of the best and most extensive collections of experimental aeronautical research facilities in the world, as well as the latest generation of supercomputers.


Further information about the facilities and programs of the department is available at, or from the department's student services office.

The department has a student branch of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, which sponsors programs and speakers covering aerospace topics and social events. It also conducts visits to nearby research, government, and industrial facilities, and sponsors a Young Astronauts Program in the local schools.

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