Research

Innovating for humanity

Research in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering falls within five primary pillars in which we aim to achieve excellence: Bioengineering, Computation, Fluid Mechanics, Materials & Thermal Science and Manufacturing, and Robotics and Controls.

Our research spans the fundamental to applied domains, ranging from scientific discoveries to technology development, and includes theoretical, computational, and experimental activities. Many faculty and faculty collaborations have projects that bridge these pillars, bringing together intra-departmental interdisciplinary research.

Aligned with the University’s Catholic mission to be a powerful force for good in the world, Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering aspires to Innovate for Humanity, tackling problems that affect human dignity and quality of life worldwide.

Bioengineering

Bioengineering research is focused on applying engineering principles to understanding and manipulating biological systems from the cell to organism scale.

Our faculty conduct experimental research that encompass diverse areas across bioengineering, from developing novel methods to culture cells in engineered three-dimensional environments that can be applied to engineering artificial tissues to engineering nanoparticles that target specific tissues or cell receptors for applications in imaging and drug delivery.

Our Bioengineering faculty are also active in computational modeling of biological systems, using simulations and modeling to predict tissue and organ development and growth and to analyze the functional performance of natural and engineered tissues.

Bioengineering research is highly cross-disciplinary, and most students work collaboratively with faculty in AME, other departments, and in several University centers and institutes, such as the Center for Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine, Harper Cancer Research Institute, and the Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics initiative.

Bioengineering Research Areas

  • biomaterials (e.g., extracellular matrix, nanoparticles, scaffolds)
  • biomechanics
  • drug delivery and imaging probes
  • growth and development
  • imaging (e.g., computed tomography and ultrasound)
  • mechanobiology
  • stem cell engineering
  • tissue models (bioreactor, microfluidics, tissue-on-a-chip, etc.) of aging and disease
  • tissue engineering and regenerative medicine

AME Faculty in Bioengineering

Computation

Computation has developed into the third pillar of science (along with theory and experiment). The Computation research group applies computational science to engineering problems to enable more rapid advancement of technology and understanding of systems.

Research led by our faculty spans multiple domains that apply mathematics, computer science, and statistics to use the fastest computers in the world and the next generation of high-performance computing systems. We study how data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence can accelerate engineering science and provide understanding of the uncertainties in a simulation, applying this research to high-impact applications in materials science, combustion, fluid mechanics, hypersonics, high-energy density physics, and biology.

Computation is a broad research field and our faculty are active in many areas from optimization, inverse problems, uncertainty quantification, high-fidelity simulation, reduced-order modeling, and scientific machine learning. We also offer a Minor in Computational Science and Engineering. Link to Graduate Minor in Computational Science and Engineering >

Notre Dame provides a range of resources that our computational engineers employ during their research primarily through our Center for Research Computing (CRC).

Computation Research Areas

  • applied mathematics
  • numerical methods
  • model reduction
  • model verification and validation
  • uncertainty quantification
  • machine learning
  • data-driven modeling
  • high-performance computing
  • integration science
  • multiscale and multiphysics modeling
  • optimization
  • inverse problems

AME Faculty in Computational Engineering

Fluid Mechanics

Fluid Mechanics has been an area of focus at Notre Dame for more than 100 years. Manned gliders were on campus even before the Wright brothers flew for the first time. The College of Engineering’s Institute for Flow Physics and Control (FlowPAC) accelerates the research activities in fluid mechanics at Notre Dame, bringing together many faculty, students, and researchers to address problems across a number of domains.

Research led by our Fluid Mechanics faculty advances understanding of fluid flows through diagnostics and computational modeling and developing new technologies to predict, measure, and control fluid dynamics. We utilize a wide variety of theoretical, numerical, and experimental methods to tackle challenges ranging from reducing drag and noise to understanding hypersonic aerodynamics and combustion.

Our experimental facilities, based in the Hessert Laboratory and Hessert Laboratory at White Field, encompass 19 wind tunnels of various sizes and speeds, including subsonic tunnels up to 1 m in cross section, transonic tunnels up to 1 m in cross section, and large-scale hypersonic facilities. Specialty facilities include an anechoic wind tunnel, an atmospheric boundary layer tunnel, a hypersonic combustion tunnel, and multiple turbomachinery facilities.

Fluid Mechanics Research Areas

  • acoustics
  • aero-optics
  • chemical flow control
  • dynamic stall
  • geophysical flows
  • high-fidelity simulation methods
  • hydrothermal stability
  • hypersonic flow
  • luminescent imaging
  • plasma actuators
  • image-based flow diagnostics
  • turbomachinery
  • turbulence

AME Faculty in Fluid Mechanics

Materials & Thermal Science and Manufacturing

The technologies needed to address today’s grand challenges are rooted in discovering and developing new materials and processes. Perhaps nowhere is this more important than the energy sector. Whether it be new devices to convert wasted heat into electricity, new strategies to harness the power of the sun to purify water, new approaches to creating fuels and degrading pollutants, or new technologies that enable fabricating and developing these tools, materials and thermal science and manufacturing play a critical role.

Research led by our faculty spans many fields, from nanoparticle synthesis to 3D printing, and is inherently interdisciplinary, bridging traditional mechanical engineering with applied physics, chemistry, materials science, electrical engineering, and computer science. Our research is diverse and broad, with faculty working at the smallest of atomic scales to fully developed functional devices using a wide variety of theoretical, computational, and experimental tools.

Our research actively use a wide variety of the facilities at Notre Dame including the Center for Research Computing (CRC), the Integrated Imaging Facility (NDIIF), Materials Characterization Facility (MCF), and the Nanofabrication Facility (NDNF). Our faculty are also heavily engaged in many research centers across campus, most notably NDnano and ND Energy.

Materials & Thermal Science and Manufacturing Research Areas

  • nanoparticle and nanomaterial synthesis
  • nanomaterial-integrated device fabrication
  • thermal interfaces and energy processes
  • thermal energy conversion
  • chemical sensing and sensors
  • water purification
  • nanoscale and multiscale thermal and energy modeling
  • laser-material interactions
  • plasma chemistry and engineering
  • advanced and additive manufacturing of thermal, optical, and functional materials
  • manufacturing methods
  • mechanical interfaces and tribology

AME Faculty in Materials & Thermal Science

Robotics and Controls

Increases in computational power, reductions in advanced sensor costs, and improvements in actuator power and efficiency have converged to increase the impact of robotics and autonomous systems in society.

Research in the Robotics and Controls pillar leverages these advancements to address pressing challenges in the design and control of robots, the development of new control theory, and the study of whole-body human biomechanics. Applications span these areas of inquiry, such as developing robotic solutions for restoring human mobility. Our research is inherently interdisciplinary, involving extensive collaborations within the group and with other domain experts in engineering, applied math, physical therapy, and psychology, and spans experiment, theory, and computation. Laboratories feature custom-built robots designed in-house and fabrication facilities to support ongoing experimentation with them. Motion capture and other sensing systems provide for high-speed data collection.

Our Robotics and Controls faculty also leverage advanced computational capabilities to predict, design, and optimize autonomous systems. We study how applied optimization techniques can enable sophisticatedly dynamic robot behavior on rapid time scales, how design algorithms can lead to unintuitive mechanical systems that push the bounds of performance, how new analytical formulations can create fundamental insight into the dynamics of mechanical systems, and how advanced models and simulations of human motion can explain both healthy and impaired motor control. The Center for Research Computing (CRC) is a critical resource facilitating the computational elements of the research.

Robotics and Control Research Areas

  • robotics
  • applied optimization and control
  • nonlinear control
  • fractional-order modeling and control
  • biomechanics of human locomotion
  • robotic locomotion
  • rehabilitation robotics
  • mechanism design
  • computational mechanical design

AME Faculty in Robotics and Controls