Research Centers

MAE Research Portfolio 

The Mechanical and Engineering Department is involved in a variety of research projects.  The MAE Research Portfolio highlights many of these projects.  


MAE Research Centers

The following Research Centers are organized by the MAE Department.

Center for Materials Research (CMR)

The Center for Materials Sciences and Engineering provides a focus for research and education in Materials Science and Engineering at NPS. Research projects span the range from basic research sponsored by the NSF to applied work on microelectronics reliability sponsor by Intel Corp. through the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the Army Research Office (ARO). Also, projects include advanced processing of Naval materials sponsored by DARPA. 

[View more at the Center for Materials Research website.]


Center for Autonomous Vehicle Research (CAVR)

The primary goal of the NPS Center for AUV Research is to educate Navy and USMC officer students in the development and use of technologies needed for unmanned underwater vehicles through coursework, thesis and dissertation research. The secondary goal of the Center is to advance Naval UUV operations by providing: Support to the Fleet, Navy Labs and Program Offices, Testing and Experimentation of Advanced Technologies, Independent Verification and Validation of UUV Concepts, and Innovative Concept Development. Research is conducted into topics falling in the following broad areas: Underwater Navigation, Control and Communication; Tactical Decision Aids; Collaborative Multi-Vehicle Operations; Obstacle Avoidance (OA) using Forward Look Sonar; and Common UUV Mission Description Language. 
[View more at the Center for Autonomous Vehicle Research website.]


Turbopropulsion Laboratory

The Turbopropulsion Laboratory (TPL) houses a unique collection of experimental facilities for research and development related to compressors, turbines and advanced air-breathing propulsion engine concepts. In a complex of specially designed concrete structures, one building, powered by a 750 HP compressor, contains 10 by 60 inch rectilinear and 4 to 8 foot diameter radial cascade wind tunnels, and a large 3-stage axial research compressor for low speed studies. A two-component, automated traverse, LDV system is available for CFD code verification experiments. A second building, powered by a 1250 HP compressed air plant, contains fully instrumented transonic turbine and compressor rigs in explosion proof test cells. A spin-pit for structural testing of rotors to 50,000 RPM and 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit is provided. Model experiments and equipment for instrumentation development are located in a separate laboratory. Data acquisition from 400 channels of steady state and 32 channels of non-steady measurements, at up to 200kHz, is controlled by the laboratory's Pentium workstations. A third building houses a 600 HP radial and 150 HP boost compressor capable of delivering 2000 scfm of air at 10 and 20 atmospheres respectively. These charge four tanks for blow-down to a supersonic wind tunnel (4 x 4 inches), a transonic cascade wind tunnel (2 x 3 inches), and two free jets (one 6 inch and one 1 inch in diameter). The large free jet is equipped with an instrumented thrust stand for the testing of small gas turbine engines. The building also houses a 3-inch diameter shock tube. Pressure measurements are made with a 96-channel Scanivalve ZOC system and pressure sensitive paint, and schlieren and shadowgraph techniques are used routinely.

 [View more at the Center for Turbopropulsion Laboratory website.]


Spacecraft Research and Design Center

The Spacecraft Research and Design Center at the Naval Postgraduate School consists of six state-of-the art laboratories: Fltsatcom Laboratory, Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics and Control Laboratory, Smart Structures laboratory, Spacecraft Design Center, NPS-AFRL Optical Relay Mirror Spacecraft Laboratory, and Satellite Servicing Laboratory. These laboratories are used for instruction and research in space system engineering and space operations curricula. The emphasis has been on providing students with hands-on experience in the design, analysis, and testing of space systems and systems and to provide students facilities for experimental research. The emphasis in the research h areas is on acquisition, tracking and pointing of flexible spacecraft with optical payloads; active vibration control, Isolation, and suppression using smart structures; space robotics, satellite servicing, space system design, and computer aided design tools. These laboratories has been used in joint projects with Naval Satellite Operational Center, NRL, AFRL, Columbia University, and Boeing.
[View more at the Spacecraft Research and Design Center website.]


Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Center

The Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Center, founded in 2001, is constantly working on different challenging projects, providing a wide variety of thesis opportunities in the different areas such as: Conceptual Design, CFD Analysis, Computer Modeling, Image Processing, Control Design, Sensor Integration, and others. Depending on student skills and desire, he or she may be involved in rigorous computer simulations, hardware-in-the-loop simulations and real field tests of different parachute- and parafoil-based payload delivery systems in Marina airport, McMillan airfield and at the Yuma Proving Ground, Yuma, AZ.
[View more at the Aerodynamic Decelerator Systems Center website.]

Control & Optimization Laboratories

The Control and Optimization Laboratories focuses on research involving the development and application of advanced mathematical concepts to solving practical problems arising in the guidance, navigation, control and optimization of various dynamical systems. Our long-term research goals are to develop applicable techniques for the control of complex nonlinear systems. A new revolutionary approach to solving dynamic optimization problems is the main focus of our research effort. Legendre, Chebyshev and Sinc pseudospectral methods are at the core of solving nonsmooth dynamic optimization problems. The research efforts are conducted in our four laboratories.

[View more at the Control & Optimization Laboratories website.]

Center for Survivability & Lethality

This Center was "re-established" to look at a wide range of topics in both survivability and lethality (To thwart, withstand, and counter attacks against the United States and its allies by establishing survivability and lethality as an integrated engineering design process throughout all engineering and analysis disciplines).

The CSL brings together faculty and students with expertise in a wide range of technical fields, such as survivability, sensors, weapons, radar, infrared and radar signatures, warhead design, ship shock, electronic warfare, weaponeering, operations analyses, and system engineering, to focus on making U.S. platforms (such as submarines, surface ships, ground vehicles, fixed and rotary wing aircraft, UAVs, and space assets), infrastructure (such as airports, power plants, chemical depots, and transportation centers), and personnel more survivable, as well as making our current and future weapon systems more lethal to the enemy.
[View more at the Center for Survivability & Lethality website.]


Multi-Physics Energy Lab (MPEL)

Our Multi-Physics Energy Laboratory investigates energy solutions based on the end use, service or product being provided. A number of demonstration systems solving local energy use problems have been developed or are in development. Some examples are; Renewable powered heating and cooling systems with ice phase change thermal brick storage. Supercapacitor based hybrid microgrids. Building scale compressed air energy storage.

View more on the Multi-Physics Renewable Energy Lab (MPREL) website



MAE Laboratories

MAE Laboratories are designed as complements to the educational mission and research interests of the department. In addition to extensive facilities for the support of student and faculty research, a variety of general use equipment is available. This includes equipment and facilities for the investigation of problems in engineering mechanics; a completely equipped materials science laboratory, including advanced scanning electron microscopes, an Auger microprobe, a transmission electron microscope and X-ray diffractometers; an oscillating water tunnel, a unique underwater towing tank and a low turbulence water channel; a vibration analysis laboratory; a fluid power controls laboratory; a robotics and real-time control laboratory; facilities for experimentation with low velocity air flows; equipment for instruction in thermal transport phenomena; a laser Doppler velocimeter; nuclear radiation detection equipment and an interactive CAD/CAE computer graphics laboratory.

Experimentation is further enhanced by a broad selection of analog and digital data acquisition and processing equipment and instrumentation. The Mechanical Engineering Department also houses the largest of several machine shops on campus. The ME Dept. shop includes a state-of-the-art 3-axis CNC milling machine, a CNC lathe, and a variety of other high-precision machine tools and fabrication equipment which allow the manufacture of parts and systems in support of teaching and research.

The following laboratories are available for teaching and research:


Unmanned Systems Lab

Unmanned Systems are a critical element in Navy planning for future littoral operations. They include fixed bottom mounted data gathering nodes, unmanned submarines, surface vessels, and aerial vehicles. Interconnectivity with acoustic and radio communications links are key to the development of modern naval systems. These assets may be used for mine clearing and other shallow water reconnaissance and intelligence gathering operations. The Laboratory houses 2 autonomous Submarines (ARIES and REMUS) as well as the UAV FROG and subsurface Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP), equipped with Acoustic Modems and supports coursework in Control and Autonomous Systems.


CAD/CAE Computer Laboratory

This lab consists of Windows PC's and is used heavily by students from several departments for both class and thesis related work.
NANO/MEMSLABORATORY: This laboratory provides a facility for teaching the emerging technologies of NANO/MEMS.


Fluid Mechanics Combined Laboratories

These labs include a hydrodynamics facility with U-tunnel for the study of a wide range of phenomena, such as the interaction of vortices with free surfaces. This lab is unique for research in the detection of submarines. Also, this laboratory provides for instruction in fluid power and power transmission systems. This laboratory also supports instruction in basic courses in fluid mechanics. This laboratory is equipped with a wind tunnel for specific instruction in hydro/aero-dynamic phenomena.


Technical Support Facility

This facility provides broad support, to both students and faculty, in electronics, data acquisition and computation; in machining and fabrication, and in instrumentation calibration.


Materials Laboratory

Laboratory supports teaching and research in processing, characterization and testing of advanced structural, functional and nanotechnology materials for defense applications:

Auger Surface Analysis Laboratory: It consists of an ultrahigh vacuum system and an electron beam source to probe the surface and interface structure of composites and microelectronic devices.

Transmission Electron Microscopy Lab: Contains a TOPCON 002B TEM used for materials science and engineering teaching and research.

Scanning Electron Microscopy Lab: Contains a a TOPCON 540 SEM used for materials science and engineering teaching and research.

X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory: Two Philips X-ray Systems for materials research are used for materials science and engineering teaching and research.

Optical Microscopes Laboratory: This lab includes several optical microscopes as well as electronic imaging and image analysis systems that are used for materials science and engineering teaching and research.

Metallurgical Polishing Laboratory: This laboratory supports all teaching and research in materials by provision of facilities for the polishing of samples for metallo-graphic examination.

Metallurgical Sectioning Laboratory: This laboratory supports all teaching and research in materials by provision of facilities for the cutting/sectioning of samples for metallo-graphic examination.

Wet Sample Preparation Facility: This facility is mainly in support of the Transmission and Scanning Microscopy labs. It is used for chemical preparation of samples for microscopic examination.

Dark Room Facility: This facility is used in support of photographic work in the materials and other Departmental laboratories.

Transmission Electron Microscopy Ii Lab: This laboratory is equipped with a JEOL-100CX microscope and is used primarily for instruction of students in the techniques of electron microscopy.

Scanning Electron Microscopy Laboratory: This laboratory is equipped with an older model Cambridge Instruments SEM.

Physical Testing (Dilatometer) Laboratory: This laboratory is dedicated to dilatometry and is primarily used for research applications.

Heat Treatment Laboratory: This laboratory supports courses and research mainly in the materials area and consists mainly of a selection of conventional furnaces.

Corrosion Laboratory: This laboratory supports the instructional program in the area of corrosion science and engineering.

Metallurgical Etching Laboratory: This laboratory supports all teaching and research in materials by provision of facilities for the chemical treatment of samples for metallo-graphic examination.

Welding Laboratory: Welding is the primary method of fabrication for Naval vessels, and instruction and research on welding/ joining of both conventional and advanced alloys is carried out in this facility.

Materials Processing Laboratory: This laboratory supports both teaching and research involving deformation and thermal processing of materials. It is equipped with presses, a rolling mill and various heat treatment furnaces.

Creep Test Laboratory: This laboratory supports research in high-temperature structural metals and composites.

Mechanical Test Laboratory: This lab supports mechanical testing with impact, creep and fatigue instrument and electromechanical.

Ceramics Laboratory: This laboratory is devoted primarily to research on high temperature materials based on various ceramic compositions.

Composites Laboratory: This laboratory supports research in composite materials, especially metal matrix composites.

Physical Testing (Shaker) Laboratory: This lab is dedicated to research in sound dampening materials. No activity is currently taking place in this area.

Propulsion Laboratory

This lab includes the marine propulsion lab, the rocket propulsion lab, and the turbopropulsion lab. The marine propulsion lab includes gas turbine and diesel engines. This forms the core of the instructional program in marine power and propulsion. The engines are utilized for both instruction and research. This lab includes a transonic compressor and turbine test rigs, a low-speed compressor test rig, a cascade wind tunnel and spin pit, Supersonic blow-down wind tunnels (2), free-jet facility, shock-tube and small-engine test cell with 8000 cubic feet air supply @ 300 psi.


Structural Dynamics Laboratory

This lab is devoted to structural dynamics and is especially designed to facilitate both teaching and research into vibration and shock effects associated with underwater explosions, as well as related shipboard vibration problems. The ability to validate simulation models with lab-scale tests is critical for student education.


Thermal Engineering Laboratories

These labs are used mainly for instruction in heat transfer by convection phenomena of single and multi-phase flows and includes facilities for measurement of temperature change and fluid motion in a range of systems. The lab also includes equipment/instrumentation for measurements in microelectronics and microheat exchanger systems.

Convection Heat Transfer Laboratory: Used mainly for instruction in heat transfer by convection phenomena and includes facilities for measurement of temperature change and fluid motion in a range of systems.

Electronic Cooling Laboratory: The operation of microelectronic devices results in intense but very localized heating of electronic devices. The phenomena involved are unique because of the small scale and are examined in courses and lab.

Two-Phase Heat Transfer Laboratory: This is an instructional and research laboratory for the study of heat transfer involving more than one phase, e.g. heat transfer involving liquid and vapor phases during boiling or condensation.


Ship Systems Engineering (TSSE) Laboratory

This is an integrated design center in which student teams perform their capstone design project of a Navy ship. Ship design encompasses hull, mechanical, and electrical systems as well as combat systems and is done in cooperation with the Meyer Institute of Systems Engineering.


Astro-Engineering Laboratory

This lab includes the following:

Spacecraft Design Laboratory: This laboratory houses computer-aided design tools for spacecraft design and a spacecraft design library. It is used heavily by students for three spacecraft design courses, AA 3870, AA 4870, and AA 4871. Students can do collaborative spacecraft design using the unique design tools on Windows or Unix PCs that are not available in other education institution.

Smart Structure and Attitude Control Laboratory: This lab consists of five major experiment setups to facilitate the instruction and research by students in the area of both smart structures, sensors, and actuators for active vibration control, vibration isolation, and shape control in space applications and attitude control of flexible spacecraft and space robotic manipulators. In addition to students' thesis research, it also supports courses, AE4816 Dynamics and Control of Smart Structures and AE3811 Space System Laboratory, and AA 3818, Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics and Control.

Optical Relay Spacecraft Laboratory: This joint laboratory of NPS and AFRL is used for both instruction and research on acquisition, tracking, and pointing of flexible military spacecraft. The main facilities include a bifocal relay mirror spacecraft attitude simulator, actuated by variable speed control moment gyros, a single focal spacecraft attitude simulators, actuated by reaction wheels, and an optical beam and jitter control test bed. This laboratory is used for courses AA 3811, AA 3818, and AA 4818.

Satellite Servicing Laboratory: The Satellite Servicing Laboratory, funded by NPS and AFRL, hosts the Autonomous Docking and Spacecraft Servicing Simulator (AUDASS). This test bed, consisting of two independent robotic vehicles (a chaser and a target), aims to carry out on-the-ground testing of satellite servicing and proximity formation flight technologies. The vehicles float, via air pads, on a polished granite table, providing a frictionless support for the simulation in 2-D of the zero-g dynamics. This is used for course AA 3811.

FLTSATCOM Laboratory: This laboratory consists of a qualification model of the Navy communications satellite, FLTSATCOM, the associated ground support equipment for testing the satellite. This is an instructional laboratory and is used by students in laboratory course AA 3811. Students send the command to the satellite for spin-up of reaction wheel, rotation of solar array drive and firing sequence of thrusters and get telemetry on status of the command and battery temperature and current etc.