2018-2019 Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Centers, Facilities, and Laboratories

The Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department has a number of experimental centers, facilities, and laboratories at which both fundamental and applied research is being conducted. More information is on the department website.

Active Materials Laboratory

Gregory P. Carman, Director

The Active Materials Laboratory contains equipment to evaluate the coupled response of materials such as piezoelectric, magnetostrictive, shape memory alloys, and fiber-optic sensors. The laboratory has manufacturing facilities to fabricate magnetostrictive composites and thin film shape memory alloys. Testing active material systems is performed on one of four servo-hydraulic load frames in the lab. All of the load frames are equipped with thermal chambers, solenoids, and electrical power supplies.

Autonomous Vehicle Systems Instrumentation Laboratory

Jason L. Speyer, Director

The Autonomous Vehicle Systems Instrumentation Laboratory (AVSIL) is a testbed at UCLA for design, building, evaluation, and testing of hardware instrumentation and coordination algorithms for multiple vehicle autonomous systems. AVSIL contains a hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) simulator-designed and built at UCLA-that allows for real-time, systems-level tests of two formation control computer systems in a laboratory environment, using the Interstate Electronics Corporation GPS Satellite Constellation Simulator. The UCLA flight control software can be modified to accommodate satellite-system experiments using real-time software, GPS receivers, and inter-vehicle modem communication.

Beam Control Laboratory

James S. Gibson, Director

The Beam Control Laboratory involves students, faculty, and postdoctoral scholars to develop novel methods for laser-beam control in applications including directed energy systems and laser communications. Algorithms developed at UCLA for adaptive and optimal control and filtering, as well as system identification, are being used in adaptive optics and beam steering. UCLA high-bandwidth controllers correct both higher-order wavefront errors and tilt jitter to levels not achievable by classical beam control methods.

Biomechatronics Laboratory

Veronica J. Santos, Director

The Biomechatronics Laboratory is dedicated to improving quality of life by enhancing the functionality of artificial hands and their control in human-machine systems. The research is advancing the design and control of human-machine systems as well as autonomous robotic systems. Current research projects involve human biomechanics, tactile sensing, control of robotic systems, and machine learning.

Bionics Laboratory

Jacob Rosen, Director

The Bionics Laboratory performs research at the interface between robotics, biological systems, and medicine. Primary research fields are medical robotics and biorobotics including surgical robotics, and wearable robotics as they apply to human motor control, neural control, human- and brain-machine interfaces, motor control (stroke) rehabilitation, brain plasticity, haptics, virtual reality, tele-operation, and biomechanics (full-body kinematics and dynamics, and soft/hard tissues biomechanics).

Boiling Heat Transfer Laboratory

Vijay K. Dhir, Director

The Boiling Heat Transfer Laboratory performs experimental and computational studies of phase-change phenomena. It is equipped with various flow loops, state-of-the-art data acquisition systems, holography, high-speed imaging systems, and a gamma densitometer.

Center for Advanced Multifunctional Materials and Systems (CAMMS)

Christopher S. Lynch, Director

CAMMS is involved in all aspects of multifunctional (smart) materials characterization, modeling, and applications. Materials are characterized under combined mechanical, thermal, electrical, and magnetic loading. Constitutive laws are developed that govern domain switching and phase transformations. Component-level applications include miniature solid-state piezoelectric pumps; morphing piezocompostite actuators; and nanoscale magneto-electric memory, antenna, and motors. Systems-level applications (team projects) include controlled optics for deep-space observing satellites, ultra-low-frequency magnetomechanical antennas, morphing aircraft structures, and next-generation computer memory.

Center for Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems (TANMS)

Gregory P. Carman, Director

The Center for Translational Applications of Nanoscale Multiferroic Systems (TANMS) is a multi-institutional engineering research center (ERC) focused on research, technology translation, and education associated with magnetism on the small scale. The TANMS vision is to develop a fundamentally new approach that couples electricity to magnetism using engineered nanoscale multiferroic elements, to enable increased energy efficiency, reduced physical size, and increased power output in consumer electronics. This new approach overcomes scaling limitations present Oersted’s magnetism control discovery of 1820. TANMS goals are to translate its research discoveries to industry, while seamlessly integrating a cradle-to-career education philosophy involving its students and future engineers in unique research and entrepreneurial experiences.

Chen Research Group

Yong Chen, Director

The Chen Research Group studies nanofabrication, nanoscale electronic materials and devices, micro-nano electronic/optical/bio/mechanical systems, and ultra-scale spatial and temporal characterization.

Collaborative Center for Aerospace Sciences (CCAS)

Ann R. Karagozian, Director

The Collaborative Center for Aerospace Sciences (CCAS) is a multi-/trans-disciplinary research center focused on fundamental and applied basic studies relevant to aerospace systems. Research projects that broadly span the computational and experimental arenas are conducted at UCLA and at Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/RQ) at Edwards Air Force Base northeast of campus. UCLA faculty, students, and postdoctoral researchers collaborate with AFRL scientists and engineers on high-impact problems to advance U.S. capabilities in aerospace systems.

Complex Fluids and Interfacial Physics Laboratory

H. Pirouz Kavehpour, Director

The Complex Fluids and Interfacial Physics Laboratory is multidisciplinary, with areas of research ranging from rheology of biofluids to energy storage. The group is directed towards development of fundamental engineering and scientific knowledge.

Cybernetic Control Laboratory

Tetsuya Iwasaki, Director

The Cybernetic Control Laboratory (CyCLab) aims to develop biologically inspired control theories for rhythmic movements and dynamic pattern formation with applications to robotic vehicles, devices for human assist, and rehabilitation.

Design and Manufacturing Laboratory

The Design and Manufacturing Laboratory offers an environment for synergistic integration of design and manufacturing. Available equipment includes four CNC machines, two rapid-prototyping systems, coordinate measuring, X-ray radiography, robots with vision systems, audiovisual equipment, and a distributed network of more than 30 workstations.

Energy and Propulsion Research Laboratory

Ann R. Karagozian, Director

The Energy and Propulsion Research Laboratory involves the application of modem diagnostic methods and computational tools to the development of improved combustion, propulsion, and fluid flow systems. Research includes aspects of fluid mechanics, chemistry, optics, and numerical methods, as well as thermodynamics and heat transfer.

Energy Innovation Laboratory

Richard E. Wirz, Director

The Energy Innovation Laboratory investigates high-impact renewable energy science and technology. Its current work primarily focuses on large-scale thermal energy storage for grid-scale applications and advanced wind energy capture.

Flexible Research Group

Jonathan B. Hopkins, Director

The Flexible Research Group is dedicated to the design and fabrication of flexible structures, mechanisms, and materials that achieve extraordinary capabilities. The laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art synthesis tools, optimization software, and a number of commercial and custom-developed additive fabrication technologies for fabricating complex flexible structures at the macro- to nano-scale.

Fusion Science and Technology Center

Mohamed A. Abdou, Director

The Fusion Science and Technology Center includes experimental facilities for conducting research in fusion science and engineering, and multiple scientific disciplines in thermofluids, thermomechanics, heat/mass transfer, and materials interactions. The center includes experimental facilities for liquid metal magnetohydrodynamic fluid flow, thick and thin liquid metal systems exposed to intense particle and heat flux loads, and metallic and ceramic material thermomechanics.

Ho Systems Laboratory-Personalized Medicine

Chih-Ming Ho, Director

The Ho Systems Laboratory-Personalized Medicine researches phenotypic personalized medicine (PPM). It has discovered that drug-dose inputs are correlated with phenotypic outputs with a parabolic response surface (PRS). With a few calibration tests to determine the coefficients of its quadratic governing algebraic equation, PRS dictates the composition and ratio of a globally optimized drug combination. Based on the PRS platform, phenotypic personalized medicine (PPM) can realize unprecedented adaptability to identify the optimized drug combination for a specific patient. PRS is an indication-agnostic and mechanism-free platform technology, which has been successfully demonstrated in about 30 diseases.

Hu Research Laboratory (H-Lab)

Yongjie Hu, Director

The H-Lab research group is focused on understanding and engineering nanoscale transport phenomena and nanomaterials for wide applications including energy conversion, storage, and thermal management. The lab uses a variety of experimental and theoretical techniques to investigate nanoscale transport processes, with a particular emphasis on design and chemical synthesis of advanced materials, ultrafast optical spectroscopy, pulsed electronics, and thermal spectral mapping techniques.

Hypersonics and Computational Aerodynamics Group

Xiaolin Zhong, Director

The Hypersonics and Computational Aerodynamics Group primarily focuses on fundamental physics-based research of hypersonic flows using advanced numerical tools; and application of discovered fundamental knowledge to real-world aerospace systems, such as development of hypersonic planes and space vehicles. Its main research areas are computational fluid dynamics (CFD), hypersonic flows, instability and transition of hypersonic boundary layers, interaction of strong shocks and turbulence, and numerical simulation of wave energy harvesting.

Laser Spectroscopy and Gas Dynamics Laboratory

Raymond M. Spearrin, Director

The Laser Spectroscopy and Gas Dynamics Laboratory conducts research driven by applications in propulsion and energy, with extensions to health and environment. Lab activities are united by a core focus in experimental thermofluids and applied spectroscopy. Projects commonly span fundamental spectroscopy science to design and deployment of prototype sensors to investigate dynamic flow-fields.

Materials Degradation Characterization Laboratory

Ajit K. Mal, Director

The Materials Degradation Characterization Laboratory is used for characterization of the degradation of high-strength metallic alloys and advanced composites due to corrosion and fatigue, determination of adverse effects of materials degradation on the strength of structural components, and research on fracture mechanics and ultrasonic nondestructive evaluation.

Materials in Extreme Environments Laboratory (MATRIX)

Nasr M. Ghoniem, Director

The Materials in Extreme Environments (MATRIX) Laboratory seeks answers to two fundamental questions: What are the physical phenomena that control the mechanical properties of engineering materials operating in extreme environmental conditions; and knowing such behavior, can we design engineering materials to be more resilient.

M’Closkey Laboratory

Robert T. M’Closkey, Director

The M’Closkey Laboratory develops miniature, high-performance angular-rate sensors called vibratory gyroscopes. A separate long-term project seeks to understand the mixing dynamics of a jet injected into a crossflow.

Mechanics of Soft Materials Laboratory

Lihua Jin, Director

The Mechanics of Soft Materials Laboratory investigates the fundamental physics and mechanics of soft materials, such as their constitutive relation, nonlinear deformation, instability, and fracture. The lab also strives to develop new materials, structures, and functions for soft robotics and stretchable electronics.

Mechatronics and Controls Laboratory

Tsu-Chin Tsao, Director

The Mechatronics and Controls Laboratory conducts research in theory and innovation in dynamic systems, controls, mechatronics, and robotics. It creates high-performance systems with novel sensors, actuators, and real-time digital signal processing and embedded control. Applications include precision motion and vibration control, manufacturing equipment and processes, medical devices, and robots.

Micro- and Nano-Manufacturing Laboratory

Chang-Jin (CJ) Kim, Director

The Micro- and Nano-Manufacturing Laboratory is equipped with a fume hood, clean air bench, optical table, DI water generator, plating setup, probe station, various microscopes, test and measurement systems, and CAD programs for mask layout. It is used for micromachining and MEMS research, and complements the UCLA Samueli Nanoelectronics Research Facility.

Modeling of Complex Thermal Systems Laboratory

Adrienne G. Lavine, Director

The Modeling of Complex Thermal Systems Laboratory addresses a variety of systems in which heat transfer plays an important role. Thermal aspects of these systems are coupled with other physical phenomena such as mechanical or electrical behavior. Modeling tools range from analytical to custom computer codes to commercial software.

Morrin-Gier-Martinelli Heat Transfer Memorial Laboratory

Laurent G. Pilon, Director

The Morrin-Gier-Martinelli Heat Transfer Memorial Laboratory is shared between professors Catton and Pilon. It is used for investigating single- and two-phase convective heat transfer in energy applications, various aspects of radiation transfer in biological systems, and material synthesis and characterization. It is equipped with optical tables, lasers, FTIR, photomultiplicator tubes, monochromators, nanosecond pulse diodes, lock-in amplifiers, spectrophotometers, light guides, fiber optics, lenses, and polarizers. It also has various flow loops, a wind tunnel, and a particle image velocimetry (PIV) system. For material synthesis, the lab is equipped with two high-temperature furnaces, a spin coater, a dip-coating system, and UV curing lamps. The lab can perform optical, thermal, and electrical materials characterization using a guarded hot plate thermal conductivity analyzer, a 3-omega method system for thin film thermal conductivity, a normal-normal reflection probe, and an in-house electrical system for measuring dielectric constant and the q-V curve of ferroelectric materials.

Multiscale Thermosciences Laboratory (MTSL)

Y. Sungtaek Ju, Director

The Multiscale Thermosciences Laboratory (MTSL) is focused on heat and mass transfer phenomena at the nano- to macro-scales. A wide variety of applications are explored, including novel materials and devices for energy conversion; combined cooling, heating, and power generation; thermal management of electronics and buildings; energy-water nexus; and biomedical MEMS/NEMS devices.

Nanoscale Transport Research Group

Timothy S. Fisher, Director

The Nanoscale Transport Research Group works on a broad range of problems, primarily involving transport processes by electrons, phonons, photons, and fluids. It seeks to solve problems with high importance to applications in energy transport, conversion, and storage, that are relevant to major industrial segments (aerospace, micro/nanoelectronics, and sensors). The lab solves these problems through a holistic, balanced approach that spans nanomaterial synthesis, basic material characterization and modeling, and functional characterization and simulation. The group includes the Center for Integrated Thermal Management of Aerospace Vehicles (CITMAV), which develops new solutions to highly transient transport problems that occur in aerospace applications.

Optofluidics Systems Laboratory

Pei-Yu Chiou, Director

The Optofluidics Systems Laboratory develops heterogeneously integrated functional devices and systems for biomedical applications. Research areas include integrated photonics and fluidics devices; 3D micro- and nano-manufacturing technologies; and flexible mechanical, photonics, and electronics systems.

Pilon Research Group

Laurent G. Pilon, Director

The Pilon Research Group researches photobiological fuel production, mesoporous materials, electrochemical capacitors, waste heat energy harvesting, foams/microfoams, biomedical optics, and energy efficiency.

Plasma and Beam Assisted Manufacturing Laboratory

The Plasma and Beam Assisted Manufacturing Laboratory is an experimental facility for processing and manufacturing advanced materials by high-energy means (plasma and beam sources). It is equipped with plasma diagnostics, two vortex gas tunnel plasma guns, powder feeder and exhaust systems, vacuum and cooling equipment, high-power DC supplies (400kw), vacuum chambers, and large electromagnets. Current research is focused on ceramic coatings and nanophase clusters for applications in thermal insulation, wear resistance, and high-temperature oxidation resistance.

Plasma and Space Propulsion Laboratory

Richard E. Wirz, Director

The Plasma and Space Propulsion Laboratory investigates plasma processes related to advanced space propulsion systems using a combination of experimental, computational, and analytical perspectives. Its research is directly inspired by the rapidly emerging field of electric propulsion (EP). Other applications of its work include microplasmas, plasma processing, and fusion.

Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory

Dennis W. Hong, Director

The Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) is a facility for robotics research and education with an emphasis on studying humanoid robots and novel mobile robot locomotion strategies. Research is in the areas of robot locomotion and manipulation, soft actuators, platform design, kinematics and mechanisms, and autonomous systems. RoMeLa is active in research-based international robotics competitions, winning numerous prizes including third place in the DARPA Urban Challenge. The laboratory also took first place in the RoboCup international autonomous robot soccer competition (kid-size and adult-size humanoid divisions), and was world champion five times in a row. It also brought the prestigious Louis Vuitton Cup Best Humanoid award to the U.S. for the first time, and most recently was one of six Track A teams chosen to participate in the DARPA Robotics Challenge disaster response robot competition.

Scifacturing Laboratory

Xiaochun Li, Director

The Scifacturing Laboratory furnishes a creative, interdisciplinary platform for science-driven manufacturing (scifacturing) as the next level of manufacturing. It seeks to enable application of physics and chemistry to empower breakthroughs in manufacturing. The laboratory links molecular, nano-, and micro-scale knowledge to scalable processes/systems in manufacturing and materials processing. Current focus areas include scale-up nanomanufacturing, solidification nanoprocessing of super-materials with dense nanoparticles, structurally integrated micro- and nano-systems (especially sensors and actuators) for manufacturing, clean energy and biomedical manufacturing, meso/micro 3D printing, and laser materials processing.

Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC)

Rajit Gadh, Director

The Smart Grid Energy Research Center (SMERC) performs research; creates innovations; and demonstrates advanced Internet-of-things, sense-and-control technologies, and data-enabled machine learning to enable development of the next-generation electric utility grid — the smart grid. SMERC also provides thought leadership through its ESmart Consortium between utilities, government, policy makers, technology providers, electric vehicle manufacturers, energy technology companies, Department of Energy research labs, and universities, so as to collectively work on envisioning, planning, and executing the smart grid of the future. That grid will allow for integration of renewable energy sources. It will also reduce losses; improve efficiencies; increase grid flexibility; reduce power outages; allow for competitive electricity pricing; allow for integration of electric and autonomous vehicles; and overall become more responsive to market, consumer, and societal needs. SMERC is currently working electric vehicle integration (G2V and V2G), automated demand response (ADR), microgrids, distributed energy resources, renewable integration, battery energy storage integration, and autonomous vehicle infrastructure.

Simulations of Flow Physics and Acoustics Laboratory (SOFiA)

Jeffrey D. Eldredge, Director

The Simulations of Flow Physics and Acoustics (SOFiA) Laboratory explores a wide variety of phenomena that occur in fluid flows in nature and technology. It investigates low-order modeling of unsteady aerodynamics of agile, bio-inspired, micro-air vehicles; microparticle manipulation by viscous streaming; the fluid dynamics of biological and biologically-inspired locomotion; interactions of fluid flows with flexible surfaces; transitional and turbulent hypersonic boundary layer flows; vortex estimation techniques for autonomous control of formation flight; and new computational tools for simulation of biomedical flows.

Thermochemical Energy Storage Laboratory

Adrienne G. Lavine, Director

The Thermochemical Energy Storage Laboratory is focused on use of reversible chemical reactions to store energy for renewable energy applications. The current focus is on ammonia synthesis for supercritical steam generation in a concentrating solar power plant. The ammonia synthesis reactor testing platform consists of three subsystems (dissociation, synthesis, and steam generation) that work in unison to create a closed-loop synthesis gas generator that can operate for an indefinite period of time.

Thin Films, Interfaces, Composites, Characterization Laboratory

Vijay Gupta, Director

The Thin Films, Interfaces, Composites, Characterization Laboratory includes a Nd:YAG laser of 1 Joule capacity with 3 ns pulse widths, a state-of-the-art optical interferometer including an ultra high-speed digitizer, sputter deposition chamber, 56 Kip-capacity servohydraulic biaxial test frame, and polishing and imaging equipment for microstructural characterization, for measurement and control study of thin film interface strength.

Turbulence Research Group

J. John Kim, Director

The Turbulence Research Group is primarily focused on the study of turbulence and stability. It has a long history of studying incompressible flow, and has recently begun studying compressible flow problems. All its work is carried out numerically with computational fluid dynamic (CFD) codes, which are written in-house. Its current research interests include real gas effects on compressible turbulent boundary-layer flow, drag reduction through the use of superhydrophobic surfaces on incompressible turbulent boundary-layer flow, and the effects of distributed roughness on compressible turbulent boundary-layer flows.