Graduate Program

Why is Aerospace Engineering at ISU the program for you?

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National Ranking

US News and World Report 2020 ranks the ISU College of Engineering 41st overall among 205 graduate engineering schools and 22nd among 132 public universities. The aerospace engineering program is ranked 27th overall, and 19th among all public universities. The National Research Council (NRC) 2010 ranks doctoral programs by 21 different criteria. ISU’s aerospace engineering program achieved a 21st-24th place ranking in multiple categories including research (derived from faculty quality), students (derived from student quality), and S-rank (criteria identified as most important by scholars). Iowa State University has one of the top-rated aerospace engineering programs among its peer schools in Iowa and its neighboring states.

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First-rate Faculty

Asteroid deflection, tornado simulation, biofuel combustion, morphing structures, aircraft icing, rotocraft brownout, non-destructive evaluation, complex system design… Our faculty are taking aerospace engineering to its limits, and redefining those limits! Our graduates work closely with our faculty on cutting-edge research projects funded by industry and government agencies. Our faculty have earned many awards in recent years, including; 3 AIAA Fellows, 1 Presidential Faculty Fellow award, 1 Honorary Distinguished Professor, 3 Endowed Chairs, 3 Professorships, 1 Faculty Fellow, and 1 Distinguished Faculty Fellow. Read more about recent faculty awards and achievements.

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Great Value

Low tuition and low cost of living in central Iowa, together with stipends, fellowships, and tuition scholarships makes ISU’s Department of Aerospace Engineering a tremendous value for in-state and out-of-state graduate students. Read More  

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Our Graduates

Graduates from our program are among the most sought after in the aerospace engineering industry. Aviation Week and Space Technology has named ISU as a top source of graduates hired by aerospace and defense companies. Our graduates not only find great jobs, but have also gone on to senior management positions in key companies and agencies. Distinguished Alumni (Below are just a few of our exemplary graduates): Clayton Anderson, Astronaut, NASA (Now ISU Aerospace Engineering faculty member); Vance Coffman, Former Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin; Neil Kacena, Vice President – Technology, Innovation and Strategic Pursuits, Raytheon SAS; Dennis Muilenburg, President, Chairman and CEO, The Boeing Company; Kim Pastega, Vice President – Supply Chain Delivery and Performance, The Boeing Company; Ethiraj Venkatapathy,Chief Technologist, Entry Systems and Technology Division, NASA Ames Research Center.


Research Excellence

Research in the Department of Aerospace Engineering is focused in six areas, many of which are interdisciplinary, bringing together the traditional engineering disciplines in creative and exciting ways. These areas are: Advanced Materials Systems Aerodynamics and Aero-Structural Interaction Aviation Biofuels Complex Systems and Optimization Guidance, Controls, and Astrodynamics Non-destructive Testing and Evaluation Research expenditures exceed $3.5 million for tenure-track faculty and $10 million including the collaborative funding of our centers. Read More.

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The ISU Experience

The Aerospace Engineering Department is part of the College of Engineering at Iowa State University. As a land-grant university, ISU emphasizes service to community, with a goal of using technology to make a difference in the world. While you are experiencing all that our department and college can offer on the educational front, you will also have an opportunity to participate in life at a Big 12 Conference University. Experience an ISU Cyclones football game at a packed Jack Trice stadium (which holds 55,000 fans). Or a Cyclones basketball game with over 14,000 other basketball fans. Or be a part of the athletics adventure and participate in one or more of 40 sports along with other students, faculty and staff. Stroll along the idyllic paths that connect ISU’s blend of historic and new buildings, spread across 490 acres. And enjoy the community that has embraced ISU – Ames, Iowa. Ames has been ranked as one of the most livable small cities in the nation. Shopping, parks, cultural events, recreation, and more. And for those who also want the big city experience without having to live there, Ames is only 40 minutes from the Des Moines metropolitan area, with a population over half a million. Read More  

Graduate Learning Goals of Aerospace Engineering/Engineering Mechanics Programs

  1. Conduct comprehensive literature review/survey in the relevant field of study to identify knowledge gaps.
  2. Formulate research objectives that will lead to significant contributions to the field of study.
  3. Conduct quality research via appropriate scientific methods, in teams or independently.
  4. Interpret research results appropriately, integrating them into the existing knowledge in the discipline.
  5. Disseminate research findings orally and through technical and scholarly writing to advance the knowledge base.
  6. Follow ethical practice and professionalism.

Contact Information

Hui Hu, Martin C. Jischke Professor, Director of Graduate Education

Maddi England, Graduate Student Support Specialist, 1200 Howe Hall, 515-294-9669,

Information: Iowa State University Graduate College,, 515-294-4531