News Release

New Center Supports Next-Gen Air Force Vehicle Design

November 21, 2023--A multidisciplinary team of engineers at the University of California San Diego has been awarded a $3.6 million grant from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to make the design and risk assessment of next-gen Air Force vehicles more efficient. 

The six-year grant supports the new AFRL-UC San Diego Collaborative Center for Optimal Risk-quantified and robust Design of aerospace vehicles (ACCORD). The goal of the center is to advance the computational design methods that are crucial for the development of next-generation Air Force vehicles, including electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and supersonic air vehicles. 

Professor John Hwang will lead the new research effort.

“We are elated to launch this new partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory. The ACCORD center will revolutionize the design of next-generation aerospace vehicles through new computational design methods centering around large-scale multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO),” said John Hwang, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego and the center’s principal investigator. “ACCORD will create unique and exciting research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate aerospace engineering students at UC San Diego, building on the momentum in aircraft MDO research created by the ongoing NASA University Leadership Initiative effort.”

Jacobs School mechanical and aerospace engineering faculty members Boris Kramer and Oliver Schmidt will contribute to the center, as will structural engineering professor J.S. Chen. Markus Rumpfkeil, on faculty in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Dayton, is also part of the team in an advisory role.

The researchers will develop new multidisciplinary design optimization methods that leverage efficient trajectory and mission analysis approaches; risk-based and robust design approaches; reduced-order models; and high-fidelity aeroelastic analysis, among others.

This center will build off the success of a University Leadership Initiative grant from NASA to create computational design tools that will help US companies develop more efficient air taxi designs, faster. Hwang is also the lead for that effort. 

In addition to developing these computational design models, student involvement and training is a key component of the center. Students will be involved in the research projects themselves, and the center will also host student workshops in the summer, providing training in these computational methods, as well as access to job and research opportunities at the Air Force Research Laboratory and its partners. 

The Southern California region is a major aerospace hub, with Edwards Air Force base, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and General Atomics all located in the region. ACCORD will create significant opportunities to build new collaborations in the region and establish a pipeline of students with the skills required to develop the air vehicles of the future.


Media Contacts

Katherine Connor
Jacobs School of Engineering