Professor Qiao will be teaching AAE 590 Aerospace Propulsion in Fall 2023 

(Download Syllabus Fall 2023).


Course Description: 

AAE 590 Aerospace Propulsion is designed to offer a thorough treatment of both the theory and applications behind current and future aerospace propulsion systems. It can serve as a prerequisite to AAE538 and AAE539 for students whose major or minor area of concentration is propulsion. It can also serve as an introductory course for students whose concentration is not propulsion but are interested in learning propulsion. Additionally, it is one of the foundational courses for the new Hypersonics Graduate Online Certificate Program.

Propulsion systems convert some form of stored energy or energy that is freely available in the environment into kinetic energy to produce thrust. Since the energy involved is used to do work, the study of propulsion systems is based on concepts from thermodynamics. The course thus begins with a review of essential thermodynamics, which we then use to analyze thermodynamic cycles that form the basis of propulsion systems. In the vast majority of propulsion systems, the energy is stored in chemical bonds in a fuel and an oxidizer, and released when these undergo a chemical reaction to produce heat. Such “chemical propulsion systems” thus involve combustion chemistry, which will be covered in the course. In many cases, the oxidizer is available in the surrounding atmosphere and only the fuel must be carried by the flight vehicle; such systems are referred to as “air-breathing propulsion systems”. For other systems, especially those intended for use outside the atmosphere, both the fuel and oxidizer must be carried by the vehicle; the resulting system is then referred to as a “rocket propulsion system”. Both these types of systems will be covered in detail in the course. We will cover both the analysis of such systems as well as their practical engineering implementation and integration into propulsion system components and complete propulsion systems.


Learning Outcomes: 

On completing this course, the student shall be able to:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of conventional propulsion system types, their form, the functions of their components, and the applications for which they are suited.
  • Calculate the properties of 1D compressible flow with area change, energy exchange (heat and work), friction, and shocks.
  • Apply laws of conservation and the 2nd Law of thermodynamics to calculate thrust and specific impulse.
  • Calculate performance and efficiency of ramjets, turbojets, turbofans, turboprops and rockets and their components including inlets, compressors and pumps, combustors, turbines, and nozzles.
  • Derive propulsion requirements from mission requirements and perform top-level sizing calculations of ramjets, gas turbine engines, liquid rockets, and solid rockets.
  • Learning Resources, Technology & Texts
  • Required textbook: Hill, P. and Peterson, C., Mechanics and Thermodynamics of Propulsion, 2nd edition, 1992, ISBN 0201146592. (H&P)
  • Additional reading materials and references will be uploaded on BrightSpace during the semester.