Aerospace engineering assistant professor elected AIAA Associate Fellow

Published: Feb 7, 2023 3:52 PM

By Joe McAdory

Imon Chakraborty, assistant professor in aerospace engineering, was elected an Associate Fellow by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA).

The AIAA is the world’s largest aerospace technical society, with nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members. It is the U.S. representative on the International Council of the Aeronautical Sciences and is the professional society for aerospace engineering.

The grade of Associate Fellow recognizes persons “who have accomplished or been in charge of important engineering or scientific work, or who have done original work of outstanding merit, or who have otherwise made outstanding contributions to the arts, sciences, or technology of aeronautics or astronautics.” Associate Fellows comprise just one of every 150 voting members within the organization.

“This is a great honor because it recognizes my research activities as well as my service to the society over the past decade,” said Chakraborty.

Chakraborty, director of Auburn University’s Vehicle Systems, Dynamics and Design Laboratory (VSDDL), researches the sizing and simulation for unconventional aircraft concepts, including electric vertical takeoff and landing (e-VTOL) urban air mobility (UAM) aircraft with all-elect ric and/or hybrid-electric propulsion system architectures.

This is an emerging and rapidly evolving area with complex engineering and analysis challenges that has generated much interest and activity in today’s aerospace industry. It also exposed the shortcomings of legacy or traditional engineering tools and methods. Chakraborty is striving to create a workflow, or pipeline, that starts from vehicle sizing and configuration trade studies, proceeds to stability and control analysis, followed by control law development, piloted flight simulations in flight simulators, and, ultimately, flight tests of subscale demonstrators.

Chakraborty, the author/co-author of more than 50 conference papers and 16 peer-reviewed journal articles, is especially proud of two research projects, one funded by NASA Langley Research Center under the Transformational Tools and Technologies Project, and the other by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“The three-year NASA project (2018-21) was VSDDL’s first externally funded project and since it came right at the time of its founding, it was foundational in several respects,” Chakraborty said. “We developed a tool called Modular Aircraft Dynamics and Control Algorithm Simulation Platform (MADCASP), aimed at analyzing stability and control and conducting flight simulations for novel aircraft concepts. It developed into much more than that and is currently at the heart of VSDDL’s flight simulation facilities. In addition to delivering MADCASP to NASA, we’ve used it to support at least five other projects in VSDDL.”

A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.
Imon Chakraborty is an avid aviator who owns a Vans RV-6A airplane.

The FAA-funded project was aimed at analyzing Simplified Vehicle Operations (SVO) for UAM aircraft using VSDDL’s flight simulators (powered by MADCASP).

“SVO is all about making aircraft easier to fly for the pilot, which reduces pilot training time and cost and increases safety,” Chakraborty said. “We implemented our lab’s take on SVO on two of our flight simulators. We recruited participants who were flight instructors, participants who were pilots but not flight instructors, and participants who had driver’s licenses but no pilot training. Each of them flew the SVO setups in our simulators. We found that even the non-pilot participants were able to control and maneuver the aircraft through a set of maneuvering tasks that we gave them. We put in a proposal requesting additional funding from the FAA to study SVO further, through additional piloted simulations of a wider range of UAM scenarios. My hope is that the work that we do with the FAA generates valuable insights that inform the development of a certification basis for these novel aircraft.”

Chakraborty credits his long-time involvement with AIAA as being significant toward his career development.

“The AIAA has played a vital role in my professional development the in past 10 years,” said Chakraborty, who was a student member while in graduate school at Georgia Tech. “I’ve had the opportunity to author/co-author/present a lot of papers at AIAA conferences and in the AIAA Journal of Aircraft. I was voted into the AIAA Aircraft Design Technical Committee in 2016 and into the AIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Technical Committee a few years later. As a member of these committees, I have had the honor of playing a role in the organization of AIAA technical forums, most notably as the Technical Discipline Chair for Aircraft Design for the AIAA SCITECH Forum.”

Why the fascination with flight and finding innovative ways to expand the horizons of air travel?

“Flight is freedom! It sounds cliched, but it’s true,” Chakraborty said. “As a humble general aviation pilot and airplane owner, I feel that freedom each time I fly. The fascination is amplified further by the technical understanding of flight that comes from being an aerospace engineer, specifically one focusing on aircraft flight mechanics, control, and design. As for vertical takeoff/landing (VTOL), I would point out that it expands that freedom even further by removing the dependency conventional airplanes have on airports and runways which, unfortunately, cannot be located wherever we may desire.

“Presently, significant research into Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and specifically, UAM, is aimed at realizing fast, economical, safe, and accessible VTOL aircraft that offer a truly transformative transportation solution falling in between the personal automobile and scheduled commercial aviation. I want my lab and myself to be thoroughly involved in this active area of research.”

Media Contact: Joe McAdory,, 334.844.3447
Imon Chakraborty

Imon Chakraborty

Recent Headlines