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Aeronautics and Astronautics

Department Overview

211 Guggenheim Hall

Aeronautics and astronautics deals with the design, analysis, and performance of air and space vehicles and a broad spectrum of related engineering science, such as aerodynamics, structural mechanics, automatic controls, flight mechanics, space dynamics, propulsion, plasma dynamics, and related topics.

Undergraduate Program

Adviser
211C Guggenheim Hall, Box 352400
(206) 616-1115
ugadvising@aa.washington.edu

The department offers the following program of study:

  • The Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering degree

Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering

Suggested First- and Second-Year College Courses: During the first year, students should take the required calculus, chemistry, English composition, and computer programming. If possible, begin taking the physics sequence. It is recommended that some VLPA and I&S courses be taken to balance the course load.

Department Admission Requirements

Applicants are considered in three groups -- Direct Freshman Admission, Early Admission, and Upper-Division Admission. Admission is competitive. All applicants have the right to petition and appeal the department's admission decision. Applications are accepted for autumn quarter only; application deadline is July 1.

Direct Freshman Admission

The department enrolls a select number of students directly from high school, prior to completion of University-level prerequisites. Students accepted to the UW who indicate aeronautics and astronautics as their preferred major on the freshman application are automatically considered. Competitive applicants have taken or are taking calculus and at least two years of laboratory science (physics and chemistry preferred) in high school.

Admission is for autumn quarter only.

Early Admission (Limited number of students admitted through this process)

Applicants must be currently enrolled at the UW and must have a minimum 15 credits of the prerequisites listed below, taken in residence at the UW.

  1. Course Requirements: MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126; 10 credits of physical science courses plus accompanying laboratory at the level of PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123, or CHEM 142 or above; and 5 credits of English composition. All courses must be completed prior to the July 1 application deadline. Admission is for autumn quarter only.
  2. Grade Requirements: At least 15 credits completed, with a minimum grade of 2.0 in each prerequisite course required for admission, and a minimum 2.50 GPA in all courses required for admission.
  3. Completion of minimum requirements does not guarantee early admission. Admission is highly competitive. Typically early admission students have cumulative GPAs significantly above 3.0.

Upper-Division Admission

  1. Course Requirements: MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, MATH 307, MATH 308, MATH 324, PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123, CHEM 142, A A 210, A A 260, AMATH 301, CEE 220, M E 230, and 5 credits of English composition. (AMATH 301 and/or MATH 324 may be taken as late as the autumn quarter of admission but would create an extremely heavy course load if both are taken the same quarter.)
  2. Grade Requirements: At least 75 credits completed, with a minimum grade of 2.0 in each prerequisite course required for admission and a minimum 2.50 GPA in all courses required for admission.
  3. Completion of minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.

Graduation Requirements

180 credits, as follows:

  1. General Education Requirements (78 credits)
    1. Areas of Knowledge (49 credits):
      1. Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA) and Individuals & Societies (I&S): 24 credits, to include a minimum 10 credits in VLPA and a minimum 10 credits of I&S, plus 4 additional credits in either area.
      2. Natural World: 25 credits to include CHEM 142, PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123, and an additional 5 credits of Natural World courses (consult department for list of approved courses.)
    2. Mathematics (24 credits): MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, MATH 307, MATH 308, and MATH 324.
    3. Written and Oral Communication: One 5-credit English composition course from the University list. Additional writing credits are built into the major core courses.
  2. Major Requirements (89 credits)
    1. Engineering Fundamentals (16 credits): A A 210, A A 260, CEE 220, and M E 230.
    2. Departmental Core (73 credits): A A 301, A A 302, A A 310, A A 311, A A 312, A A 320, A A 321, A A 322, A A 331, A A 332, A A 360; either A A 410 and A A 411 or A A 420 and A A 421; A A 447, A A 496, AMATH 301; 15 credits of senior technical electives. With approval, 3 credits of the latter may be chosen from another area of engineering.
    3. Minimum 1.7 grade in each 300- and 400-level A A course applied to major requirements
    4. Minimum 2.00 cumulative GPA for courses applied to major requirements
    5. Free Electives: 13 credits

    Continuation Policy

    All students must make satisfactory academic progress in the major. Failure to do so results in probation, which can lead to dismissal from the major. For the complete continuation policy, please contact the departmental adviser or see departmental webpage for more details.

    Student Outcomes and Opportunities

    • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: The goals and objectives of the undergraduate program are to provide a challenging and comprehensive education, to develop necessary functional skills and an understanding of the societal context in which engineering is practiced, to provide a solid foundation in the engineering sciences related to aerospace engineering, to provide a em systems perspective, to develop engineering creativity through design experience, and to prepare graduates to succeed in engineering careers and lifelong learning.

    Graduates of aeronautics and astronautics are skilled in engineering fundamentals, engineering design, laboratory skills, synthesis of various engineering disciplines, and working in a team environment. Graduates are highly regarded by employers in aeronautics, astronautics, energy systems, and related fields. They develop interpersonal skills and a desire for life-long learning that helps them succeed in their chosen careers. Graduates have been successful and valued at local, national, and international industries, as well as at government organizations and institutions of higher learning.

    • Instructional and Research Facilities: Visit the department web page to view current research activities. Undergraduates are encouraged to participate in research activities.
    • Honors Options Available:With College Honors (completion of Honors core curriculum and Departmental Honors requirements). With Honors (completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements.
    • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: Internships are arranged individually. See adviser for details.
    • Department Scholarships: Scholarships are limited and are usually reserved for students who have junior and senior standing in the department. Deadline for scholarship applications is April 1.
    • Student Organizations/Associations: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) student chapter. Sigma Gamma Tau

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
211B Guggenheim Hall Box 352400
(206) 616-1113
gradadvising@aa.washington.edu

The Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics offers programs that provide a foundation in the aerospace engineering sciences and expertise in various specialized application areas. Three graduate degree options are offered: Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics, Master of Aerospace Engineering, and Doctor of Philosophy.

Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics (MSAA)

Admission Requirements

  1. Grade Point Average: The Graduate School requires that applicants hold a minimum 3.00 GPA for the last 90 quarter hours or 60 semester hours of graded undergraduate coursework. Applicants admitted by the department normally have a minimum 3.30 GPA. Applicants with less than a 3.30 GPA may still be considered if they have other strong credentials, such as graduation from an outstanding undergraduate program and excellent GRE scores.
  2. Quality and Difficulty of Courses Taken and Universities and Colleges Attended: Each transcript is individually reviewed. The department recognizes that some academic institutions are more competitive and high grades are more difficult to obtain.
  3. GRE General Test: Applicants take the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination. Although no minimum GRE score is required, the typical successful applicant has scores in excess of 450 Verbal, 700 Quantitative, 650 Analytical, or 4.0 Analytical Writing. If the applicant wishes to be considered for a graduate assistantship or fellowship, scores should be received before February 15.
  4. Two Letters of Recommendation: Confidential letters may be submitted electronically by recommenders indicated on the online application, or placed in sealed envelopes and included with application materials, or sent directly to the department by the recommenders. Writers should be able to rank the applicant's performance as a student and/or researcher. A referer should send the recommendation in letter format; no special form is used.
  5. Statement of Objectives: Provides the department information not found in transcripts and other official documents. For example, statements can include personal histories, professional and academic goals, and specific research interests if applicable.
  6. English Requirements for Foreign Students: Minimum TOEFL scores of 580 on the paper-based exam or 237 on the computerized exam for foreign students whose native language is not English.
  7. Prior Degrees: Prospective students should hold an undergraduate degree in aerospace or mechanical engineering. Applicants with em grades (3.50 and above) in related disciplines (physics, other engineering disciplines) are considered.

Degree Requirements

39-45 credits, as follows:

  1. All MSAA degree candidates must have a program of study plan approved by the department's graduate committee.
  2. Before completing 12 credits of graduate coursework, candidates file a program of study plan prepared with the assistance of the adviser or the Graduate Program Adviser and submitted to the graduate committee for approval.
  3. The minimum MSAA program consists of either ten courses plus 9 thesis credits, or 13 courses. No more than three of the courses may be at the 400 level (none in a student's depth area). All courses counted toward the degree must be graded. In addition, each student must enroll in the graduate seminar (A A 520) during every quarter of full-time studies.

The student's program of study is tailored to the needs and interests of the student. However, each program must include depth in a field of specialization, breadth to include at least one course in each of two different subject areas outside the field of specialization, and analytical strength to include three mathematical courses. Senior sequences in engineering, science, or other appropriate professional fields may make up part of the individualized graduate program. However, only three undergraduate courses may be counted toward the minimum requirements (and none in the student's depth area).

The thesis, if that degree option is chosen, is approved by the student's adviser and second reviewer and submitted to the Graduate School. After submitting one copy of the thesis to the department on CD, two signed, unbound copies and receipt for binding fee are submitted to the Graduate School by the last day of the quarter.

Normally one-and-a- half to two years of full-time study are needed to complete the requirements for an MSAA degree. The Graduate School imposes a time limit of six years for any master's degree.

Master of Aerospace Engineering (MAE)

The MAE program is intended for recent graduates or engineers who wish to expand their knowledge in multidisciplinary areas while also learning other aspects of aerospace engineering, such as business, management, manufacturing, or technical communication.

Admission Requirements

  1. Grade Point Average: The Graduate School requires that applicants hold a minimum 3.00 GPA for the last 90 quarter hours or 60 semester hours of graded undergraduate coursework. Applicants admitted by the department normally have a minimum 3.30 GPA. Applicants with less than a 3.30 GPA may still be considered for admission if they have other strong credentials, such as graduation from an outstanding undergraduate program and excellent GRE scores.
  2. Quality and Difficulty of Courses Taken and Universities and Colleges Attended: Each transcript is individually reviewed. The department recognizes that some academic institutions are more competitive and high grades are more difficult to obtain.
  3. GRE General Test: Applicants take the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination. Although the department does not specify minimum GRE scores, the typical successful applicant has scores in excess of 450 Verbal, 700 Quantitative, 650 Analytical, or 4.0 Analytical Writing. If the applicant wishes to be considered for a graduate assistantship or fellowship, the scores should be received before February 15.
  4. Two Letters of Recommendation: Confidential letters may be submitted electronically by recommenders indicated on the on-line application, or placed in sealed envelopes and included with application materials, or sent directly to the department by the recommenders. Writers should be able to rank an applicant's performance as a student and/or researcher. A referer should send the recommendation in letter format; no special forms are used.
  5. Statement of Objectives: Provides the department information about the applicant not found in the transcripts and other official documents. For example, statements can include personal histories, professional and academic goals, and specific research interests if applicable.
  6. English Requirements for Foreign Students: Minimum TOEFL scores of 580 on the paper-based exam or 237 on the computerized exam for foreign students whose native language is not English.
  7. Prior Degrees: Prospective students should hold an undergraduate degree in aerospace or mechanical engineering. Applicants with em grades (3.50 and above) in related disciplines (physics, other engineering disciplines) are considered.

Degree Requirements

45-54 credits

Students create their own programs of study based on departmental distribution requirements and subject to departmental approval, to include courses in a specialty area, technical and non-technical electives, analytical courses, and a group or independent project. The MAE program includes twelve courses plus 8 credits for the project, or ten courses and one of three business certificate programs.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The doctoral program consists of lectures, seminars, discussions, and independent study, enabling the student to master and to make original contributions to a particular field.

Admission Requirements

  1. Grade Point Average: The Graduate School requires that applicants hold a minimum 3.00 GPA for the last 90 quarter hours or 60 semester hours of graded undergraduate coursework. Applicants admitted by the department normally have a minimum 3.40 GPA. Applicants with less than a 3.40 GPA may still be considered for admission if they have other strong credentials, such as graduation from an outstanding undergraduate program and excellent GRE scores.
  2. Quality and Difficulty of Courses Taken and Universities and Colleges Attended: Each transcript is individually reviewed. The department recognizes that some academic institutions are more competitive and high grades are more difficult to obtain.
  3. GRE General Test: Applicants must take the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination. Although the department does not specify minimum GRE scores, the typical successful applicant has scores in excess of 450 Verbal, 700 Quantitative, 650 Analytical, or 4.0 Analytical Writing. If the applicant wishes to be considered for a graduate assistantship or fellowship, the scores should be received before February 15th.
  4. Two Letters of Recommendation: Confidential letters may be submitted electronically by recommenders indicated on the on-line application, or placed in sealed envelopes and included with application materials, or sent directly to the department by the recommenders. Writers should be able to rank the applicant's performance as a student and/or researcher. A referrer should send the recommendation in letter format; no special forms are used.
  5. Statement of Objectives: Provides the department information about the applicant not found in the transcripts and other official documents. For example, statements can include personal histories, professional and academic goals, and specific research interests.
  6. English Requirements for Foreign Students: Minimum TOEFL scores of 580 on the paper-based exam or 237 on the computerized exam for foreign students whose native language is not English.
  7. Prior Degrees: Prospective students should hold undergraduate and graduate degrees in aerospace or mechanical engineering with a 3.40 minimum GPA. Applicants with strong grades in related disciplines (physics, other engineering disciplines) are considered.

Degree Requirements

Minimum 90 credits

In addition to the formal steps for obtaining the degree listed below, students must complete an approved program of study consisting of 18 credits of coursework beyond that required for the Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics, for a total of 90 credits for the PhD

  1. The Departmental Qualifying Examination: To take the department qualifying examination, students must have a 3.40 GPA in technical coursework at the graduate level. In addition, they must have a MSAA degree or its equivalent, must have a faculty member accept them into their research program and agree to serve as their thesis adviser, supervise their PhD research, and chair their qualifying examination committee.
  2. The General Examination: Upon successful completion of the qualifying examination, a PhD Supervisory Committee chaired by the student's major adviser is appointed. The general examination is expected to be taken within one year after the qualifying exam, but no sooner than two years after the beginning of graduate study. At least three weeks prior to the exam, students provide the members of their committee a document outlining their proposed research.
  3. Completion of Coursework: At least 18 credits of coursework in addition to that for the MSAA degree. A form listing the courses to be taken must be approved by the student's adviser and placed in the student's file.
  4. Preparation of the Dissertation: The dissertation normally requires the equivalent of at least one year of full-time study, and must demonstrate original and independent research and achievement.
  5. The Final Examination: When the dissertation is completed to the satisfaction of the chair of the Supervisory Committee, a reading committee of three is appointed from the student's committee. If the reading committee agrees that the dissertation is satisfactory, then the final examination is scheduled. That examination is generally devoted to a presentation and defense of the dissertation.

Research Activities

Current areas of research in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics include guidance and control systems, aerodynamics and fluid mechanics, propulsion and energy systems, advanced composite materials and structures, and plasma dynamics and fusion reactors. Research in controls includes autonomous systems involving spacecraft, aircraft, and underwater vehicles, flight systems integration, and development of unmanned aerial vehicles. Among fluid dynamics research topics are turbulent mixing, vortex dynamics and flow control, compressible flow, fluids in microgravity, and advanced fluid flow diagnostics development. Research programs in the areas of propulsion and energy include hypervelocity mass launchers, advanced technologies for generating space and terrestrial energy, combustion, and studies of planetary resources utilization. Structural mechanics research involves damage-tolerant composite structures, structural dynamics, fatigue, and fracture, and multidisciplinary design optimization Experimental and computational research in plasma science has an emphasis on advanced, alternative concepts for achieving controlled fusion, as well as plasma propulsion for space applications.

Facilities

Facilities that support research activities in controls include unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and autonomous flight systems laboratories, and laboratories for underwater vehicle and distributed space systems research. Fluids, propulsion, and energy facilities include the Kirsten 8 x 12 foot low-speed wind tunnel, two water tunnels, a Mach 5, enthalpy blow-down wind tunnel, the Ram Accelerator hypervelocity launcher, a combustion laboratory, and a Mars environment simulation facility. Research in structures is conducted in a composite-material laboratory with material and structural test machines. Various plasma and fusion-research and engineering physics laboratories, including the Redmond Plasma Physics Laboratory (RPPL), exist to support research in plasmas. Lastly a variety of computer facilities is available, including a single 20-processor and two 8-processor servers, and a 16-computer heterogeneous cluster, as well as several stereographic visualization systems.

Financial Support

Most students are financially supported by the department as teaching or research assistants, or by their employers. For further information on this or other aspects of department programs, contact the Graduate Program Coordinator, 211B Guggenheim Hall, Box 352400, or visit the department's website.