National Institute of Aerospace

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The National Institute of Aerospace (NIA) is a non-profit research and graduate education institute headquartered in Hampton, Virginia, near NASA's Langley Research Center. NIA's mission is to conduct leading-edge aerospace and atmospheric research, develop new technologies for the nation and help inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

NIA was formed in 2002 by a consortium of research universities to ensure a national capability to support NASA's mission by expanding collaboration with academia and leveraging expertise inside and outside NASA. NIA performs research in a broad range of disciplines including space exploration, systems engineering, nanoscale materials science, flight systems, aerodynamics, air traffic management, aviation safety, planetary and space science, and global climate change. It is funded at about $25 million a year from NASA. It is controlled by a board comprising vice presidents and provosts from the supporting universities.

NIA is headed by Dr. Robert Lindberg, who became the first President and Executive Director of the NIA in October 2003. He joined NIA at its inception in October 2002, and initially served as Vice President for Research and Program Development.

Research projects

About 50 full-time researchers are working on projects at NIA. [1]

For example, The Formal Methods research program aims at developing and applying techniques and tools for the specification, analysis, and verification of digital systems that are of interest to NASA. Application areas include flight guidance systems, integrated modular avionics, airborne information systems, and other hardware and software safety critical systems. Current research efforts focus on the verification of Air Traffic Management Systems. The Formal Methods Groups at NIA and NASA Langley have developed and verified several fundamental algorithms for Air Traffic Management such as Conflict Detection and Resolution (CD3D, KB3D), Resolution and Recovery (RR3D), and Cooperative and Collaborative Resolution.

Recent research awards include "An Adaptive Control Technology for Safe High-Performance Aircraft (ACTS)" directed by Luis Crespo (NIA) and Anuradha Annaswamy (MIT), supported by NASA Langley Research Center, Research & Technology Directorate. The goal is to develop the proposed adaptive control architecture, which will include the methodology as well as the algorithms.

"Dynamic Flight Envelope Assessment and Prediction," directed by Jong-Yeob Shin (NIA), Dr. N. Eva Wu (Binghamton University), and Dr. Youmin Zhang (Concordia University); supported by NASA Langley Research Center, Research & Technology Directorate. The goal is to develop detailed research plans for control-based health monitoring system integrating: system identification, fault diagnostics/prognostics, and vehicle state assessment. Develop theory and algorithms for calculating the vehicle's reachable state set and modifying the flight envelope in real time to promote safety of flight for various anomalous scenarios.


NIA's graduate program offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in the fields of aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, engineering mechanics, engineering physics, materials science and engineering, electrical engineering, ocean engineering and systems engineering. Degrees are issued through its university partners: Georgia Tech, Hampton University, North Carolina A&T State University, North Carolina State University, the University of Maryland, the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Old Dominion University, and the College of William & Mary. Classes are offered on site and through distance education to about 40 graduate students in residence. (Students in residence at NIA are considered in residence at their home university.) NIA also provides Langley Research Center employees the opportunity to pursue a PhD while working.

The faculty comprises Langley Professors who share their time between NIA and their home schools:

  • Dr. Mool G. Gupta, University of Virginia, Director, NSF Center for Lasers and Plasmas
  • Dr. James Hubbard, Jr., University of Maryland, Director, Center for Adaptive Aerospace Vehicle Technology
  • Dr. Kathryn Logan, Virginia Tech, Director, Center for Multifunctional Aerospace Materials
  • Dr. David Song, North Carolina A&T State University, Director, Center for High Confidence Cooperative Systems
  • Dr. Robert Tolson, North Carolina State University, Director, Center for Planetary Atmospheric Flight Sciences
  • Dr. Alan Wilhite, Georgia Tech, Director, Center for Aerospace Systems Engineering, Modeling and Simulation

See also

External links