The research at the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology (GALCIT) has evolved over the past three quarters of a century to include aerospace and biosystems engineering, however, the tradition of integrating basic experiments, theory, and simulations over a broad range of spatial and temporal scales continues to characterize our approach.
Our faculty are highly visible in their fields, and continue to garner numerous awards. Learn more by visiting our news and events page. GALCIT contains unparalleled experimental facilities in solids, fluids, biomechanics, propulsion, combustion, and materials, as well as unique large-scale computational capabilities.
Our educational emphasis is on the fundamentals and advanced diagnostics, with a view toward the future: bio-inspired engineering, micro- and nano-mechanics, space science, and space technology are all current research thrusts at GALCIT. We take an interdisciplinary view of mechanics—fluids, solids, and materials—and our graduate training reflects this.
- Measuring microelectronic wafer topography slope, curvature, and stress
- The fastest super-shear cracks on Earth
- Eulerian Approach to High Strain-rate Solid Mechanics
- Quantitative Full-scale Wind Turbine Flow Measurements
- Shock wave—Boundary Layer Interaction for Reflected Detonations
- Experiments in High Reynolds Number Wall Turbulence
- Vortex-enhanced Propulsion
- John W. Miles
B.S. '42 (Electrical Engineering) M.S. '43 (Aeronautics) M.S. '43 (Electrical Engineering) M.S. '44 (Aeronautical Engineering) Ph.D. '44 (Electrical Engineering), Awarded 1997
Miles pursued both his undergraduate and graduate education at Caltech, completing his doctorate in 1944. From 1942 to 1945, he held positions at the General Electric Research Laboratory, the MIT Radiation Laboratory, and the Lockheed Aircraft Company.
- Louis G. Dunn
B.S. '36 (Aeronautics) M.S. '37 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '38 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '40 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1974
- Julian D. Cole
Engineer '46 (Aeronautics) M.S. '46 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '49 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1971
After receiving his PhD from Caltech in aeronautics in 1949, Julian Cole joined the aeronautics staff at CIT as a research fellow. He became full professor of aeronautics in 1959, and then became professor of applied mathematics in 1967. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a member of the council of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mechanics.
- Joseph V. Charyk
M.S. '43 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '46 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1966
President, Communications Satellite Corporation
- Satish Dhawan
Engineer '49 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '51 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1969
Director, Indian Institute of Science
- Arthur E. Bryson
M.S. '49 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '51 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1991
The Paul Pigott Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, at Stanford University, Arthur Bryson, Jr. received his MS in 1949 and his PhD in 1951, both in aeronautics. Previously he was a Navy aircraft maintenance officer in World War II, a paper-mill engineer, and a wind-tunnel engineer. His research in the the mechanics and control of aircraft, spacecraft, and robots led to the 1969 book Applied Optimal Control, coauthored with Y.C. Ho.
- Richard D. Delauer
Engineer '50 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '53 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1985
Richard D. DeLauer was the president of Orion Group, Ltd., an aerospace and advanced technology consulting team. He was undersecretary of defense for research and engineering from May 1981 until December 1984. Prior to his appointment by President Reagan, DeLauer was executive vice president for TRW Inc.'s systems and energy activities. He joined TRW in 1958, following a 15-year career as a naval aeronautical engineering officer. In 1960 he was named director of TRW's Titan ICBM ballistic missile program, and by 1970 his responsibilities had grown to encompass the duties of executive vice president.
- Anthony J. Iorillo
B.S. '59 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '60 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1990
Mr. Iorillo was a senior vice president of Hughes Aircraft Company, and presided over the company's Space and Communications Group, responsible for the development and production of communications satellites and other space vehicles, spacecraft instrumentation, earth terminals, terrestrial communications equipment, and information systems. He also served as Chairman of the Board of American Mobile Satellite Corporation. He was the inventor of the Hughes Gyrostat satellite technique, which has been used in scores of communications satellite missions. For his work he received the 1970 Lawrence A. Hyland Patent Award and the Spacecraft Design Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
- Benoit B. Mandelbrot
M.S. '48 (Aeronautics) Engineer '49 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1988
Benoit B. Mandelbrot, IBM Fellow at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, in the acknowledged creator of fractal geometry, a field of mathematics dealing with the irregular shapes of natural objects.
- L. Eugene Root
M.S. '33 (Mechanical Engineering) M.S. '34 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1966
President, Lockheed Missiles and Space Company
- George E. Solomon
M.S. '50 (Aeronautics) Ph.D. '53 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1983
George E. Solomon was executive vice president and general manager of the electronics and defense sector of TRW Inc., and later, executive vice president of Northrop Grumman Space Technologies. He began his association with Ramo-Wooldridge, forerunner of TRW, in 1954, while he was a research fellow at Caltech. Subsequently as a member of the technical staff he carried out research into the dynamic motion of re-entry bodies and on the theory of ablative heat shield cooling, which contributed to the successful design of the first U.S. Air Force ICBM. Solomon then served as director of systems research analysis, vice president and director of marketing and requirements analysis and in 1971 became vice president and general manager of TRW Systems Group, renamed TRW Defense and Space Systems Group.
- Donald L. Turcotte
B.S. '54 (Mechanical Engineering) Ph.D. '58 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1999
While initially in aerospace engineering, in 1973 he turned to the geological sciences. He is currently Maxwell Upson Professor of Engineering at Cornell, and he was chair of the university’s department of geological sciences from 1981 to 1990. His principal contributions to the earth sciences have been in the development of theories of mantle convection and geodynamic problems. Much of this work is set forth in his textbook (with Gerald Schubert) Geodynamics. He has also been a leader in applying the concepts of fractals and chaos to the earth sciences and is author of the textbook Fractals and Chaos in Geology and Geophysics.
- Francis H. Clauser
B.S. '34 (Physics) M.S. '35 (Mechanical Engineering) Ph.D. '37 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1966
Academic Vice Chancellor, University of California, Santa Cruz
- Paul B. MacCready
M.S. '48 (Physics) Ph.D. '52 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1978
President, AeroVironment, Inc.
- William F. Ballhaus
Ph.D. '47 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1978
Past President, Beckman Instruments, Inc.
- Yuan-Cheng Fung
Ph.D. '48 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1994
Yuan-Cheng Bertram Fung is professor of bioengineering and applied mechanics, emeritus, at UC San Diego. He is the only researcher to have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, a distinction that reflects his wide-ranging accomplishments in fields ranging from aeronautics to bioengineering, a field that he helped to pioneer in the 1950s. After earning his Caltech PhD, Fung spent 20 years on the Institute's aeronautics faculty, ultimately becoming a full professor, and dividing his research between solid and fluid mechanics. By 1958, he had begun to investigate the applications of these and other engineering areas to biomedical problems, an interest that led to his pioneering work in the field of biomechanics.
- Narendra K. Gupta
M.S. '70 (Aeronautics), Awarded 2004
Narendra (Naren) Gupta is the co-founder of Integrated Systems Inc., which later merged with another company to form Wind River, the dominant maker of software for such diverse computing devices as airplane radar systems and DVD players. He now serves as vice chairman of that company. Gupta also serves on the boards of a number of companies, including the Digital Link Corporation, a data communications and wide-area networking equipment manufacturer, TIBCO Software, Quick Eagle Networks, and the American India Foundation. Gupta was elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers in November 1991.
- Stanley C. Pace
M.S. '49 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1987
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, General Dynamics Corporation
- Allen E. Puckett
Ph.D. '49 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1970
Executive Vice President and Assistant General Manager, Hughes Aircraft Company, After receiving a PhD from Caltech, following BS and MS degrees at Harvard University, Allen Puckett launched a career in aerodynamics and research and development. He was the executive Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Hughes Aircraft Company. His last position with the company was as Chairman and CEO. He served as a lecturer and technical consultant with Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory before joining Hughes in 1949.
- Ozires Silva
M.S. '66 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1992
Ozires Silva, internationally known as an authority on Brazilian aviation, was appointed that country's Minister of Infrastructure in 1990. He served as president of Petrobras, the national company devoted to oil exploration, production, refining, and distribution. He has earned multiple awards for outstanding service to the Brazilian military; for pioneering efforts in establishing the country's aeronautical industry; and for his work benefiting Brazil's foreign trade.
- David W. Thompson
M.S. '78 (Aeronautics), Awarded 2009
David W. Thompson has been chairman and chief executive officer of Orbital Sciences Corporation since co-founding the company in 1982. One of America's leading space-related R&D and manufacturing companies, Orbital provides affordable space systems to commercial and government customers worldwide and has performed over 675 rocket launches and satellite deployments in support of commercial communications, Earth and space science, and the national defense. Before co-founding Orbital, Thompson served as special assistant to the president of Hughes Aircraft's Missile Systems Group, and as a project manager and engineer on advanced rocket engines at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. As a college student, he worked at JPL on the first Mars landings and on Space Shuttle projects at NASA's Langley Research Center and Johnson Space Center.
- Chia-Chiao Lin
Ph.D. '44 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1992
Chia-Chiao Lin is Institute Professor Emeritus at MIT, having served as Institute Professor from 1966 to 1987. He joined the MIT faculty in 1947 as associate professor of mathematics, and became a full professor in 1953. He was twice a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and also held positions at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and at Brown University. After 1962 his main research focus was astrophysical research, specifically the development of the density wave theory of galactic spirals.
- Roddam Narasimha
Ph.D. '61 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1986
Director, National Aeronautical Laboratory, Indian Institute of Science, Roddam Narasimha’s position before retirement was as director of the National Aeronautical Laboratory of India and professor of aerospace engineering at the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences of the Indian Institute of Science. Professor Narasimha has made outstanding and wide-ranging scientific contributions in fluid mechanics and aerodynamics. He is an internationally known figure in turbulence research and is also responsible for the generation of new programs in geophysical fluid dynamics and the atmospheric sciences.
- William R. Sears
Ph.D. '38 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1988
William R. Sears is known as one of the giants in the history of American aeronautics. A graduate of the University of Minnesota in 1934, Sears continued his studies at Caltech with Theodore von Karman. From 1937 to 1941, Dr. Sears served as instructor and later as assistant professor at Caltech, then left the Institute to join the staff of Northrop Aircraft Corporation as chief of aerodynamics, a position he held from 1941 to 1946. Under his direction emerged a sequence of Northrop military aircraft, the best known of which were the P-61 Black Widow fighter and the Northrop Flying Wing. At the end of World War II, Sears left Northrop to found the Graduate School of Aeronautical Engineering at Cornell University. In 1974 Dr. Sears accepted his post at the University of Arizona, where he continued work on a self-adapting wind-tunnel.
- Hsue-Shen Tsien
Ph.D. '39 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1979
Hsue-Shen Tsien, the first director of Caltech's Guggenheim Jet Propulsion Center, was later chairman of the Institute of Mechanics of the People's Republic of China's National Academy of Sciences, in Beijing. Born in Shanghai, Tsien received his BS in mechanical engineering from Chiao-Tung University. In 1935 he came to the United States, where he earned his MS from MIT. At Caltech he worked closely with Theodore von Karman on supersonic flight and jet propulsion and was awarded a PhD in aeronautics in 1939. He continued at Caltech as a research fellow, assistant professor, and associate professor, until he moved to MIT as their youngest full professor. During World War II Tsien was again associated with von Karman when he served as consultant on jet propulsion to Aerojet and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Air Forces. After the war the Air Forces commended him for his "invaluable contribution" to victory. In 1949 the Guggenheim Foundation offered him the directorship at one of their two research centers (at Caltech and Princeton) and in choosing Caltech, he became the Goddard Professor of Jet Propulsion.
- T. A. Wilson
M.S. '48 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1968
Executive Vice President, Boeing Company
- Frank Borman
M.S. '57 (Aeronautics), Awarded 1966
Frank Borman earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, in 1950 and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Caltech. Borman is internationally known as a pioneer in the exploration of space, a veteran of Gemini 7 and Commander of the 1968 Apollo 8 Mission, the first team of American astronauts to circle the moon. A career Air Force officer, he was a fighter pilot, an experimental test pilot and an assistant professor of Thermodynamics and Fluid Mechanics at West Point. In 1969 he became a special advisor to Eastern Airlines and in 1975 he was elected President and Chief Operating Officer. He was named Chief Executive Officer in 1975 and Chairman of the Board in 1976. Borman received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor from the President of the United States, and in 1993 Colonel Borman was inducted the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Department of Aerospace
- The William F. Ballhaus Prize
- The Charles Babcock Memorial Award
- The Rolf D. Buhler Memorial Award in Aeronautics
- The Donald Coles Prize
- The Hans G. Hornung Prize
- The Kalam Prize for Aerospace Engineering
- The Ernest E. Sechler Memorial Award in Aeronautics