Research Overview

Our Research


Our faculty conducts research to both advance scientific knowledge and create technological innovations to solve outstanding problems in their disciplines. The cutting-edge research encompasses a variety of areas that include solid mechanics; materials; fluid mechanics and heat transfer; dynamics, systems and controls; energy including combustion and renewables; and plasmas. The faculty collaborate across areas and often with faculty in other engineering departments, the School of Medicine, and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  The annual funded research of about $8 million is supported by several government funding agencies and industry.  

MAE is recognized for its excellence in research. In a rigorous and comprehensive report on doctoral programs released by the National Research Council in 2010, we were ranked among the top 10 in the nation.  Our professors have received numerous awards and accolades: there are 7 members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), there are 3 fellows of the NAE equivalents in Germany, Spain, and the UK, and 17 professors are fellows of their (often multiple) professional societies.

We invite you to visit the individual research pages to learn about the exciting research areas of our faculty. A few examples are given below from our current departmental thrust areas to give a flavor of our broad research portfolio.  In the energy area, we work in efficient and clean combustion of fossil fuels; novel, nano-structured materials for solar energy conversion and storage; model-based optimal control of new batteries; forecasting of intermittent solar and wind energy; plasma physics and plasma/material interactions in fusion.  Our work on flow and transport processes in the environment is concerned with water quality in the coastal ocean and subsurface resources, and air quality in the urban environment. With the unique combination of research in energy and environment, we are uniquely positioned to develop science and technology in the broader context of sustainable development.  Engineering is increasingly playing a critical role in medicine.  To illustrate, MAE faculty are working on the interfaces of mechanics, materials, biology, and medicine to solve problems related to cardiac disease and imaging,  cardiovascular surgery, migration and growth of cancer cells, and ophthalmology.