Jun 17, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2014-2015 
Rensselaer Catalog 2014-2015 [Archived Catalog]

Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering

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Department Head:  Suvranu De

Department Home Page: http://mane.rpi.edu/

Mechanical engineers are engaged in a wide range of activities. At one end of the spectrum, they are concerned with fundamental engineering science, especially energetics and mechanics. At the other end, they are involved with the hardware of various technologies—the design and manufacture of mechanical components and systems. Aerospace engineering is concerned with disciplines and technologies that pertain not only to aircraft and spacecraft, but to other vehicular systems such as submarines and hydrofoils as well. Nuclear engineering focuses on the methods, devices, and systems required for the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

Research and Innovation Initiatives

Opportunities for research and innovation are delineated below. Opportunities may be theoretical, computational, and/or experimental. The Center for Flow Physics and Control, the Center for Modeling, Simulation and Imaging in Medicine, the Gaettner LINAC Center, the New York State Center for Automation Technologies and Systems, the Scientific Computation Research Center, and the Center for Computational Innovations offer additional research opportunities for the department’s undergraduate and graduate students and their faculty advisers.

Cross-Cutting Research Areas

Energy Science and Engineering
This cross-cutting research theme is centered around clear common interests in energy efficiency, energy storage, energy harvesting, and thermal controls. It builds on the strong expertise in fundamental thermal sciences and engineering across multiscales, thermal metrology, nanostructured materials, electrochemical energy storage, and microsystem fabrication technologies.

Materials, Materials Processing and Controls
MANE faculty are engaged in high impact interdisciplinary research in materials, manufacturing and controls as well as research that effectively links the three disciplines to come up with system level solutions to important technological problems. The research interests of the faculty includes materials for energy, nano-materials, nano-composites, nanoscale heat transfer, thermoelectrics, nano-mechanics, fiber-reinforced composites, additive manufacturing, non-linear controls, micro-machining, spaceflight control, tribology, non-linear dynamics, nuclear materials, bio-materials, smart materials, adaptive structures and computational nano and bio mechanics.

Human Health and Safety

This cross-cutting research theme is centered around common interests in biomechanics, virtual surgery, radiation dosimetry, medical robotics, biomechanical imaging, and nanoscience.

Disciplinary Research Areas 

Advanced Structures/Materials 
Research Areas: Active Structures, morphing structures, cellular structures, structures with integrated damping capability, energy absorption capability; advanced materials including piezoelectric materials, shape memory alloys and polymers, electrorheological and magnetrorheological fluids, nano-materials; advanced composites, bio-composites; advanced structural analysis methods, nonlinear aeroelasticity, nonlinear multi-body dynamics; and computational structural dynamics. 

Applied Radiation Technologies
Research Areas: Accelerator physics; neutron, x-ray, and light scattering physics & experiments; radiation detection and measurement; novel radiation sources, nuclear cross-section data measurement and analysis; nuclear non-proliferation (monitoring of nuclear materials for nuclear security).

Research Areas: Fuel chemistry; optical diagnostics; solid propellants; spray combustion; nano-energetics; swirl-stabilized combustion; transonic combustion. 

Design and Manufacturing
Research Areas: Design methodology in general and mechanical engineering design techniques in particular; tribology, metrology; rapid prototyping; flexible manufacturing; micro/nano-scale manufacturing (subtractive and additive techniques); process modeling; material design for manufacturing; sustainable manufacturing; fiber-composite processing; fuel-cell manufacturing; bio-medical manufacturing; new manufacturing techniques; operation of manufacturing facilities; CAD/CAM; diagnostics and controls; polymer matrix composites manufacturing; biocomposities Manufacturing.

Dynamics and Controls
Research Areas: Adaptive and smart optics systems; intelligent building systems; control of micro/nano-scale manufacturing; learning control systems; nonlinear, robust and adaptive control, human-in-the-loop control design.

Fluid Dynamics/Aerodynamics 
Research Areas: Experimental, numerical, and theoretical fluid mechanics; advanced aerodynamic flow control techniques, passive and active; aerodynamics of low, moderate and high Reynolds number flows; manned and unmanned aerial vehicle aerodynamics; acoustics and vibrations; compressible flows; wind energy.

Mechanics and Materials
Research Areas: Acoustics; multi-body dynamics; fatigue and fracture processes; friction and wear; biomechanics; plasticity; composites; microelectronic materials; materials under extreme loading conditions; irradiation hardening; nanomechanics of materials; multiscale computational methods.

Nuclear Materials 
Research Areas: Radiation interaction and radiation effects; advanced nuclear fuels and structural materials; aging management; materials for nuclear waste management; nanostructured materials for nuclear applications

Nuclear Power Systems
Research Areas: Novel reactor design concepts; nuclear safety / risk analysis / emergency preparedness; nuclear thermal hydraulics; fuel cycle (spent fuel storage, geological repository, re-processing); fuel design and performance; nuclear data instrumentation and detector development; computational methods (neutronics analysis, multi-physics and multi-scale modeling); nuclear fusion and energy policy.

Research Areas: Multidisciplinary design optimization; aerodynamic shape optimization; trajectory optimization; optimization under uncertainty; inverse problems and model reduction.

Radiation Protection, Medical and Industrial Uses of Radiation
Research Areas: Radiation dosimetry; imaging and radiotherapy of cancer; medical isotope production, non-destructive testing (civil engineering, materials, oil exploration).

Research Areas: Spacecraft trajectory control optimization; spacecraft relative motion optimization; alternative ways to optimize propellant consumption relying on atmospheric differential drag; large flexible spacecraft dynamics and control, space vehicle control.

Thermal and Fluids Engineering 
Research Areas: Energy efficiency and sustainability; advanced microfluidics for thermal management; system level thermal management, heat conduction and solid-state thermoelectric energy conversion in nanostructured materials; nanoscale thermal metrology; interfacial heat transfer; convection and phase-change in microchannels; structured surfaces for enhanced heat transfer; nanostructured thermal interface materials; thermal energy storage materials; heat generation and dissipation in radio frequency heated magnetic nanoparticles; microsystems for energy harvesting; plasmonic nanoparticles spectrally coupled with luminescent solar concentrators; loop heat pipes; and combustion. 

Faculty *


Amitay, M.—D.Sc. (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology); aerodynamic flow control, mini- and micro-aerial vehicles, wind turbine performance enhancement, two-phase flows; (James L. Decker ‘45 Endowed Chair in Aerospace Engineering).

Anderson, K.S.—Ph.D. (Stanford University); multibody dynamics, advanced algorithm development, parallel computing, molecular dynamics (Associate Dean, Undergraduate Studies).

Borca-Tasciuc, T.—Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles); heat transfer and energy conversion, nanotechnology, MEMS.

Blanchet, T.A.—Ph.D. (Dartmouth College); tribology, solid lubrication, surface science, contact mechanics; (Associate Head for Faculty Affairs).

Danon, Y.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); nuclear data and instrumentation, accelerator technology and radiation applications, nondestructive testing, novel radiation source and detectors.

De, S.—Sc.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); numerical methods in engineering, haptics and virtual reality, multiscale modeling, computational biomechanics, soft tissue biomechanics (Department Head). 

Drew, D.A.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); applied mathematics, fluid mechanics (joint appointment, Mathematics home department).

Embrechts, M.J.—Ph.D. (Virginia Polytechnic Institute); fusion engineering, applied chaos theory, neural networks (joint appointment, Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems home department).

Gandhi, F.—Ph.D. (University of Maryland at College Park); helicopter dynamics and aeroelasticity, advanced configuration design, rotor active control and rotor morphing, smart materials and structures for structural vibration reduction and damping augmentation, cellular and variable stiffness structures; (Rosalind and John J. Redfern Jr. ‘33 Professor of Engineering).

Hirsa, A.—Ph.D. (University of Michigan); fluid mechanics, experimental gas dynamics (jointly with the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department).

Hajela, P.—Ph.D. (Stanford University); optimum design, structural dynamics, aeroelasticity (Provost).

Koratkar, N.A.—Ph.D. (University of Maryland at College Park); smart materials and structures, rotorcraft, unsteady aerodynamics; (John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Professor of Engineering).

Malaviya, B.K.—Ph.D. (Harvard University); fission and fusion reactor physics and technology, biomedical applications, radioactive waste management, pedagogic technology (jointly with Engineering Science).

Maniatty, A.M.—Ph.D. (Cornell University); mechanics of materials, computational mechanics, continuum mechanics, polycrystalline materials.  

Oberai, A.—Ph.D. (Stanford University); multiscale modeling, turbulence modeling and simulation, computational biomechanics, inverse problems, biomedical imaging.

Peles, Y.—Ph.D. (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology); MEMS fabrication, design and device testing, design and manufacturing of electronic packaging (Associate Head for Graduate Studies).

Picu, C.R.—Ph.D. (Dartmouth College); mechanics of solids, micro- and nano-mechanics of crystalline defects, atomistic simulations.

Podowski, M.Z.—Ph.D. (Warsaw University of Technology); two-phase flow and heat transfer, reactor dynamics and safety, system stability, applied mathematics.

Rusak, Z.—D.Sc. (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology); theoretical and computational fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, and combustion dynamics; vortex stability and breakdown, compressible flows, viscous flows, and reacting flows.

Smith, R.N.—Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley); thermal-fluid and energy systems.

Shephard, M.S.—Ph.D.(Cornell University); finite element analysis, computer graphics, computer-aided design (jointly with the Civil Engineering Department; Samuel A. Johnson’37 and Elizabeth C. Johnson Professor of Engineering).

Tichy, J.A.—Ph.D. (University of Michigan); tribology, non-Newtonian fluid mechanics, rheology.

Walczyk, D.F.P.E., Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); rapid tooling, environmentally conscious design, machine design.

Wen, J.T.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); modeling and control of dynamical systems with applications to precision motion, robot manipulation, adaptive optics, distributed coordination and control, and thermal management (joint appointment, home department Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering).

Xu, G.X.—Ph.D. (Texas A&M University); environmental health physics, health and medical physics, Monte Carlo simulations, anatomical modeling, biomedical use of radiation (jointly with the Biomedical Engineering Department).

Professors of Practice

Sreepada, S.—Ph.D. (Columbia University); nuclear thermal-hydraulics, nuclear fuel design, reactor safety, energy conversion. 

Steiner, M.W.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); multidisciplinary design, product architecture, advanced design methods.

Associate Professors

Borca-Tasciuc, D.—Ph.D. (University of California, Los Angeles); MEMS, NEMS, microfluidics, heat transfer in nanosystems.

Lian, J.—Ph.D. (University of Michigan); radiation effects, advanced nuclear materials, ion beam technique, nano-scale characterization and nanofabrication.

Liu, L.Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); neutron scattering, dynamics of water, structure and dynamics of nano-materials and macro-molecules, radiation damage.

Oehlschlaeger, M.—Ph.D. (Stanford University); combustion, propulsion and energy systems, optical diagnostics.

Scarton, H.A.—Ph.D. (Carnegie Mellon University); biomechanics, acoustics, non-destructive testing, dynamics, vibrations, ultrasonic communication, fluid and solid mechanics, sensors, noise control, wave phenomena, MEMS devices, acoustic emission, fluid-solid interaction, experimental methods, dynamic hardness, laser propulsion, design and invention.

Zhang, L.Ph.D. (Northwestern University); numerical modeling, computational fluid dynamics, fluid-structure interactions, biomechanics.

Assistant Professors

Bevilacqua, R.Ph.D. (University Sapienza, Rome, Italy); guidance, navigation, and control of space systems and multi-spacecraft systems, rendevous, docking, autonomous assembly, responsive space, optimization of spacecraft relative trajectories, differential drag control, on-the-ground hardware-in-the-loop testbeds, real-time systems.

Chung, A.—Ph.D. (Cornell University); fluid mechanics, optofluidics, inertial microfluidics, biomicrofluidics, nanobiotechnology, miniaturized systems for basic biology, medical diagnostics, and cellular engineering.  

Hicken, J.Ph.D. (University of Toronto); simulation-based design, optimization, aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics, shape optimization.

Ji, W.—Ph.D (University of Michigan); nuclear reactor core analysis, computational methodology development in radiation transport, Monte Carlo modeling, simulation in stochastic media.

Mishra, S.Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley); Dynamic Systems and Control, Modeling and Control of Micro/Nano-scale Manufacturing Processes, Data-driven Control System Design, Smart Building Systems.

Sahni, O.Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); fluid mechanics, computational fluid dynamics, turbulence simulations, computational mechanics, high-performance and parallel computing.

Samuel, J.—Ph.D. (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign); micro/nano-scale manufacturing, design of advanced materials for manufacturing, bio-medical manufacturing and green manufacturing.

Sotoudeh, Z.—Ph.D. (Georgia Tech); Aeroelasticity, Vibration, Dynamics, Helicopter Dynamics, Computational Structural Dynamics (CSD).

Senior Lecturer

Swersey, B.L.—B.S. (Cornell University); creativity in design, design methodology.


Caracappa, P.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); operational health physics, internal and external dosimetry, radiation detection.

Haley, T.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); nuclear fuel management, mathematical modeling, reactor design.

Hurst, J.Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); control, dynamics, optimization, mechatronics.

Leong, C. M.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); experimental fluid mechanics, biofluid mechanics, active flow control, wind energy, fluid-structure interactions, experimental techniques.

Zhou, W.—Ph.D. (University of California at Berkeley); nuclear waste management (risk and safety assessment), reservoir simulation, environmental system analysis, coupled processes in porous media.


Research Assistant Professors

Ahn, W.Ph.D. (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) medical simulation, computer animation and graphics, robotics and haptics.

Sankaranarayanan, G.—Ph.D. (University of Washington); haptics and virtual reality, telerobotics, surgical robotics, mechatronics, networked control systems.

Adjunct Faculty

Borton, D.N.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); solar energy.

Trumbull, T.H.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); research reactor experimental operations.

Emeritus Faculty

Bergles, A.E.—P.E., NAE, Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); heat transfer, two-phase flow.

Block, R.C.—Ph.D. (Duke University); nuclear structure and data, radiation effects in electronics, accelerator technology neutron reactions, real-time radiography, industrial applications of radiation, nondestructive testing.

Crespo da Silva, M.R.M.—Ph.D. (Stanford University); dynamics, nonlinear vibrations, perturbation methods, computerized symbolic manipulation.

Derby, S.J.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); automation, mechanisms, robotics,design.

Dvorak. G.J.—NAE, Ph.D. (Brown University); mechanics of solids, composite materials and structures, fracture and fatigue.

Ettles, C.M.—Ph.D. (Imperial College), D.Sc. (University of London); mechanical design, machine dynamics, tribology.

Hagerup, H.J.—Ph.D. (Princeton University); viscous flow.

Harris, D.R.—Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); reactor physics, fusion technology, shielding, reactor noise analysis.

Jensen, M.P.E., Ph.D. (Iowa State University); heat transfer, fluid mechanics, heat exchangers, boiling and two-phase flows, enhanced heat transfer, fuel cells, solar energy, sustainability.

Kaminski, D.A.Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); heat transfer, computational fluidmechanics, thermal radiation.

Lahey, R.T., Jr.—NAE, Ph.D., (Stanford University); multiphase flow and boiling heat transfer, reactor safety analysis, reactor thermal-hydraulics, applications of chaos theory, sonofusion technology.

Lee, D.—Sc.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); mechanics of materials, computer-aided manufacturing.

Sneck, H.J., Jr.—P.E., Ph.D. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute); viscous-fluid mechanics, bearing lubrication and design.

Somerscales, E.F.C.—Ph.D. (Cornell University); heat transfer.

Steiner, D.—Ph.D. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); nuclear fusion systems, plasma engineering, radiation effects on materials (Institute Professor of Nuclear Engineering).


Technical Support Staff

Brand, P.
DiGiulio, D.
Gray, M.



Hargrove, K. Kerdoun, A.
McDougall, R.



Mielke, W.R., Jr.
Strock, M.

Thompson, J.
Winters, G.

* Departmental faculty listings are accurate as of the date generated for inclusion in this catalog. For the most up-to-date listing of faculty positions, including end-of-year promotions, please refer to the Faculty Roster section of this catalog, which is current as of the May 2014 Board of Trustees meeting.

Undergraduate Programs

MANE Program Educational Objectives 

The Mechanical, Aeronautical, and Nuclear Engineering programs are each designed to prepare students for continued learning and successful careers in industry, government, academia, and consulting. While certain objectives of an undergraduate education in engineering are common to all programs, there are subtle but important differences that require some subset of objectives specific to ensuring that all graduates have specialized technical knowledge in their chosen field.  Graduates of the programs within Mechanical, Aeronautical, and Nuclear Engineering will be expected to:

  • engage in professional practice at or beyond the entry level or enroll in high-quality graduate programs, applying their engineering knowledge, critical thinking, and problem solving skills.
  • become leaders in engineering, science, academia, business, and public service.
  • continue their intellectual development through participation in continuing education, professional development, and/or community service.

The Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, and Nuclear Engineering degree programs are each independently accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.

Dual Major Programs

Dual majors lead to a single baccalaureate degree embracing two fields. Special programs which can be completed in eight semesters have been developed. Examples include dual majors in Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and  Design, Innovation, and Society (STS), and others. Further information is available in the departmental office.  Degree templates for Dual Majors offered by the MANE department may be found here: http://www.eng.rpi.edu/mane/undergraduate.cfm


Graduate Programs

The department offers graduate programs in mechanical engineering, aeronautical engineering, mechanics, nuclear engineering, and engineering physics. To accommodate a student’s career plans and interests, the graduate programs are structured to allow great flexibility in choosing appropriate courses, while ensuring sufficient depth and breadth. The professor assigned to or chosen by a student as the adviser has the knowledge to make suggestions of specific courses to further the student’s educational goals. 

Among the available degrees are the M.Eng., which is perceived to be more practically oriented and consists of course work and a required research project; the M.S., which is considered more scholarly or fundamental and must include a thesis; and Ph.D. The co-terminal bachelor’s/master’s degree program is also available to those who meet the department and institute admissions requirements. Listed below are many of the requirements for these degrees. For all degrees, full-time students must register each semester for the zero credit course MANE 6900, Graduate Seminar. Complete requirement information is available on the MANE department Web page, http://mane.rpi.edu/.

Doctoral Programs

For the doctoral degree, 72 credits in addition to the bachelor’s or 48 credits in addition to the master’s degree are required. In addition to residence and thesis requirements, students must successfully complete 12 or more courses beyond the bachelor’s degree.  These courses will be specified by the adviser and the doctoral committee.  Under the guidance of a thesis adviser, the student conducts advanced study and research. If a student chooses to do a thesis with a thesis adviser from another department, a Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering Department faculty member must be appointed co-chair and the doctoral committee must contain at least two department faculty members. After approximately one year of full-time study, the student should have a research adviser and be advanced to doctoral student status. To attain this milestone, a qualifying examination is required. When thesis research has begun and after approximately two years of full-time study, the candidacy examination is taken. At the completion of the research project and after the dissertation has been written, the student must defend the thesis in an open presentation to his or her committee. The degree awarded is the Doctor of Philosophy.

This degree is awarded under the auspices of the Office of Graduate Education when the thesis is directed toward making an original contribution to fundamental knowledge in a particular field or in an interdisciplinary field. A dissertation that is scholarly, creative, original, and publishable may deal also with the relation of a discipline to educational problems and objectives within the field.

Course Descriptions

Courses directly related to all Mechanical, Aeronautical, Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics curricula are described in the Course Description section of this catalog under the department code MANE.












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