Department of Aerospace Engineering

Department of Aerospace Engineering

The continued global expansion of the aviation and aerospace industries is driving a strong demand for aerospace engineers. In the UAE, as well as the Middle East, the aerospace industry has continued to expand at a rate significantly above the global average. The geographic and economic positions of the UAE are two of the drivers spurring the growth of aircraft manufacturing, maintenance repair-overhaul (MRO) facilities, and space-related industries.

Career Specializations

Systems Engineering Testing
Design Computational Analysis
Project Management Research and Development

Employment Opportunities

Aerospace Engineers are employed in the following fields:

  • Commercial and Military Aviation Industries (design, development, and fabrication of airplane propulsion, structural and aerodynamic systems)
  • Space Vehicle and Launch Vehicle Industries
  • Industries involving aerodynamics, materials, engines, and control, such as the automotive sector, conventional and alternative energy.

B.Sc in Aerospace Engineering

The BSc in Aerospace Engineering program lays the foundation for the core aerospace engineering discipline while engaging students to study and understand how engineering fits within the overall global aerospace and space-related profession and industry. Principles of science and engineering are applied to the design and analysis of flight vehicles and related aerospace systems in well-designed course sequences to ensure that students gain hands on experience in developing flight vehicles from concept to design, including the fabrication and testing processes. Using advanced computer modeling and simulations, as well as hands-on laboratories and real-life projects, students are equipped with the tools to contribute immediately and effectively to the aerospace and the booming space industries in UAE and the region.

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering

The M.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering gives candidates the opportunity to deepen their knowledge in the broad field of ME and contribute to the process of discovery and knowledge creation through the conduct of research.

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering – Aerospace Engineering


Prof. Rashid K. Abu Al-Rub

Professor and Acting Department Chair

Dr. Rafic Ajaj

Assistant Professor

Dr. Ashraf N. Al-Khateeb

Assistant Professor

Dr. Fahad Almaskari

Assistant Professor

Dr. Mohammad A. Al Shudeifat

Associate Chair, Associate Professor

Prof. Wesley Cantwell

Professor, Director of ARIC and Associate Dean for Research

Dr. Elena Fantino

Assistant Professor

Dr. Kamran Ahmed Khan

Assistant Professor

Dr. Joon Ho Lee

Assistant Professor

Dr. Ki sun Park

Assistant Professor

Prof. Kin Liao


Dr. Yahya Zweiri

Associate Professor

Dr. Sanjeev Rao

Assistant Professor

Dr. Vladimir Parezanovic

Assistant Professor


Associate Professor



Laboratory Instructor


Department Coordinator

The Department of Aerospace Engineering at Khalifa University is offering a range of exciting research projects linked to the latest developments in aerospace technology. These research projects will be supervised by academics with expertise in a broad spectrum of disciplines, including aircraft structures, materials science, flight dynamics, aircraft design and aerospace propulsion.

The projects are offered at both Master’s and PhD level and many will involve collaboration with local industry. To underpin this research, the Department is investing in state-of-the-art research equipment, such as advanced testing machines, manufacturing equipment and modeling software.

Why not join us and be a part of shaping the future of aerospace engineering in the UAE?

Aerospace Structures

Contact: Dr. Wesley Cantwell, Dr. Rashid Abu Al-Rub, Dr. Kamran Khan

Given that the empty weight of an aircraft is approximately 50% that of its maximum take-off weight, there are growing demands to reduce the mass of critical structural components, such as the fuselage, wings and tailplane. Current research on aerospace structures at KU is investigating new lightweight designs that can out-perform existing components. Here, new types of sandwich structure are being developed that offer similar properties to existing structures, but are much lighter. Examples include all-composite sandwich structures in which both the skins and the core are manufactured from high-performance composites, such as carbon fiber reinforced plastics. These are some of the lightest designs that currently exist and they are likely to lead to significant changes in the performance of the next generation of both civil and military aircraft. Attempts are also being made to model the behavior of these structures and to predict their operational lifespan.

Aerospace Manufacturing

Contact: Dr. Kamran Khan, Dr. Wesley Cantwell, Dr. Rashid Abu Al-Rub, Dr. Fahad Al Maskari

Composite materials are being used in ever greater amounts in the manufacture of aircraft structures. For example, the Boeing 787 is largely produced from carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Faced with the challenge of manufacturing large composite components at low cost, engineers are looking for new and novel ways to produce them. Researchers at KU are investigating new routes for manufacturing lightweight structures, such as resin infusion, out of autoclave processing and automated fiber placement. These techniques enable components to be manufactured very quickly and precisely, keeping costs down whilst driving performance up. There remain many hurdles that have to be overcome, such as understanding how the processing parameters affect the properties of the finished component. Work is also underway to predict how the materials within the composite will behave during the processing cycle. Here, finite element techniques are being used to enable engineers to design the next generation of Composite structures with greater confidence.

Aerospace Nanomaterials

Contact: Dr. Kin Liao, Dr. Rashid Abu Al-Rub

Recent exciting developments in the area of nanotechnology will soon offer engineers the possibility of building ultrahigh performance aircraft starting at the atomic scale . The resulting structures will be incredibly strong and very light (for example graphene is more than one hundred times stronger than steel). Researchers at Khalifa University are introducing carbon nanotubes into conventional composite materials in order to improve their toughness and to make them more resistant to impact and fatigue loading. Techniques are also being developed to ensure that the carbon nanotubes are evenly dispersed throughout the composite, avoiding the occurrence of unwanted aggregations or grouping of these nanometer-sized tubes. Future research will consider effective ways to manufacture nano-composites and also investigate ways to fully benefit from the enormous potential offered by these amazing materials.

Damage in Structural Aerospace Components

Contact: Dr. Mohammad Alshudeifat, Dr. Fahad Al Maskari, Dr. Rashid Abu Al-Rub

Heavy duty rotordynamic systems are used extensively in different real life applications. They are the main equipment in aircraft engines and the power generation field. Steam turbines, gas turbines, compressors, pumps and generators are examples of rotor machinery systems. Early phase damage detection in these systems is of considerable interest in the research for protecting human and equipment. Extensive research work is being done to develop efficient techniques for detecting fatigue crack damage in its early phase. Here at Khalifa University, we will be investigating this topic in close collaboration with the aerospace industry. In addition, the application of  nonlinear energy sinks (NESs) in aircraft structures will also be investigated A NES is a lightweight device that passively absorbs and rapidly dissipates a considerable portion of the initial shock energy induced into the aircraft winglets which prevents destructive vibration amplitudes from occurring. We also aim to investigate more efficient designs for NESs.

Computational Aerodynamics / Fluid Dynamics

Contact: Dr. Kursat Kara, Dr. Kamran Khan, Dr. Rashid Abu Al-Rub

The use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) techniques has revolutionized the process of aerodynamic design. CFD enables engineers to analyze the aerodynamic performance of complex design concepts and optimize parameters for improved performance. CFD results are then validated against wind tunnel measurements. In the1980s, for example, Boeing designed and tested around 80 wings during the development of a new airplane, without the use of CFD. Since the 1990s, the use of CFD has increased more than 60 fold, reducing the previous figure of 80 to just 10. Researchers at KU are working on problems, such flow separation control and hypersonic boundary layer transition using CFD. Under heavy winds, or at a high angle of attack, airflow cannot follow the surface of a wind turbine blade and separates. Flow separation is an unsteady phenomenon that causes alternating aerodynamic forces , which can become destructive. As a result, the turbine has to be stopped. Currently, we are investigating flow control concepts to control flow separation and alleviate load fluctuations. This will increase the efficiency and extend the lifespan of wind turbines.

Combustion Dynamics

Contact: Dr. Ashraf Alkhateeb

Combustion is a dominant power source around the globe, e.g. the United Arab Emirates generates 99% of its energy through combustion of hydrocarbon fuels. Enhancing the Emirate’s energy security to meet future demand via optimizing the Emirate’s oil and gas resources is one the principles of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030. There is a need to both improve the energy efficiency of our engines and reduce pollution from fuels. Such improvements critically depend on our ability to understand, predict, and accurately model detailed combustion events. In KU, we are focusing on obtaining a deeper understanding of the chemical dynamics inside engines, We believe that better predictions of reactive flows will help to increase the efficient use of fuels, reduce polluting byproducts, and assist in the development of alternative fuel sources. We are also focusing on the development of an accurate and rational algorithm to reduce the computational cost of simulating combustion processes.


Spacecraft trajectory design

Contact: Dr. Elena Fantino

The space sector constitutes a core strategy of the UAE as it is expected to contribute to a knowledge-based economy and the advanced high-tech future of the Nation. The design of the trajectory is a crucial part of the development of a space mission. Often the mission goal is tightly related to the spacecraft trajectory. For example, a geostationary orbit is indeed mandatory for a stationary equatorial position, and visiting a solar system planet implies that a proper trajectory is used to bring the spacecraft from Earth to its vicinity. The challenging objectives of the next space missions in the neighborhood of the Earth and in interplanetary and planetary space require the development of new concepts, methods, and algorithms to design the corresponding trajectories and orbital maneuvers also taking into account the technological trends (electrical thrusters versus chemical engines, aerocapture, aerobraking maneuvers). The research group is active in trajectory design using multi-body dynamics, planetary gravity assists, perturbation analysis, low-thrust and high-thrust propulsion. The applications include the design of optimal station-keeping and orbit transfer maneuvers in geocentric orbit, the design and optimization of interplanetary trajectories with multiple gravity assists and deep space maneuvers, the design and optimization of exploration tours of the moons of the giant planets.

Aerospace Propulsion

Contact: Dr. Joon Ho Lee or  Dr. Ki Sun Park

Aerospace propulsion is largely of two kinds: Aero propulsion sand space propulsion systems. Aero propulsion is mainly for aircraft vehicles such as manned aerial vehicle and unmanned aerial vehicle(UAV). Space includes rocket propulsion such as space launch vehicles and missiles for military, and electric propulsion like ion thruster for the vector control of satellites. Latest, their R&D activities are mainly focused on four requirements: 1) Capability: High Performance/Operability/Durability, 2) Affordability: Low Cost, 3) Safety: Reliability/Robustness, 4) Environmental Compatibility: Low NOx and low fuel consumption. Researchers at Khalifa University are introducing both aircraft propulsion systems such as turbojet and turbofan engines, and rocket propulsion systems like liquid rocket, solid rocket, and hybrid rocket engines. For more detailed R&D,  prototype engine developments are considered together with ETIC (Emirates Technology Innovation Center), one of the research centers at KU.

Control and Astronomous Systems

Contact: Dr. Yahya Zweiri

Automatic control has been a critical technology for aerospace systems since the very birth of aviation: the Wright brothers’ first powered flight was successful only because of the presence of warpable wings allowing the pilot to continuously control an otherwise unstable aircraft. Today, control theory, i.e., the principled use of feedback loops and algorithms to steer a system to its goal, is the prime enabler for the design of autonomous vehicles (autopilots, UAVs, robots, self-driving `smart cars’, etc), but also the regulation of transportation infrastructures. We aim at developing efficient and reliable control and coordination algorithms that can be used in a variety of aerospace applications, from single systems such as a flight vehicle to a network of systems such as a satellite constellation. Also in this effort, we focus on security and resiliency of control mechanisms in networked and cybephysical systems in aerospace.

Turbulent Wakes

Contact: Dr. Vladimir Parezanovic

Studies of drag reduction and wake control of bluff bodies are of immense importance in terms of reducing terrestrial transport fuel consumption and polluting gas emissions. Most of the real vehicle energy expenses are devoted to overcoming the aerodynamic drag, caused mainly by the massive flow separation at the rear of the body. In addition to a large pressure drag, the separated region is a source of fluctuating aerodynamics forces which affect stability and control of the vehicle. With the ever-increasing capabilities of small and cheap microcontrollers, as well as developments in flow sensing devices and actuators, the challenges of effective and robust flow control are beginning to look less insurmountable. The future KU Wind Tunnel Facility will provide a powerful platform for experimental efforts in understanding the complex physics of 3-D turbulent wakes and testing of different flow control approaches. A large array of flow diagnostic methods will be available to study both time-resolved and 3-D wake dynamics. Furthermore, real-time data acquisition hardware will serve as a testbed for the development and application of novel closed-loop control recipes.


Computational Mechanics of Composite Materials

Contact: Dr. Kamran A. Khan

With the advent of novel materials such as responsive fibers, active particles, graphene and carbon nanotubes, composites and architected cellular materials can now be made multifunctional by incorporating mechanical, thermal, electrical, magnetic, optical and/or other functionality by varying constituents and microstructural arrangements. The use of these advanced multifunctional composites has been drastically increased in engineering applications such as aerospace, automotive, biomedical, energy and oil and gas industries. During their life time these composites are often exposed to simultaneous mechanical, thermal, electrical, magnetic and non-mechanical effects, such as diffusion of fluid, extreme environments, chemical reactions that affect the mechanical properties of the composites and leading to strong coupling between various physical properties in the composites.

Researchers at KU are developing experimentally validated macro/micro/nano-mechanics-based constitutive theories for small and large deformation multi-scale and multi-physics behavior of polymers and metals. Emphasis is on developing various theoretical and computational micromechanical models to predict the properties, performance and durability of advanced multifunctional materials, metamaterials, architected lightweight cellular materials and composite structural systems. The advantage of micromechanical models is that they are capable of predicting the effective behavior of composites subjected to concurrent mechanical and other stimuli while recognizing multi-field responses of the constituents.

These outline some of the research areas that are being investigated at Khalifa University. If you are interested, please contact the relevant member of staff in order to get more information.