Mark Drela

Photo: Mark Drela
Terry J. Kohler Professor
Director, Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel

Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139

drela [at]
Administrative Assistant
Financial Officer

Current research involves development of computational algorithms for the prediction of 2D and 3D external flows about aerodynamic bodies. Subsonic, transonic, and supersonic flow regimes are being considered. Most of the work centers on viscous/inviscid coupling schemes in conjunction with direct Newton solution methods. Two- and three-dimensional integral boundary layer formulations are also being developed for modeling viscous regions. Specific geometries currently being considered include high-lift multielement airfoils, wing/body configurations, and axisymetric powered engine nacelles. Research into optimization techniques and strategies is also being pursued in paralleled with the computational aerodynamics work. A key goal is development of methods for efficient calculation of design-parameter sensitivities. Also being pursued is the development of interactive tools to permit the designer to make the most effective use of the computed design parameter- sensitivity information to guide the evolution of a design.

Mark Drela in action
Academic Degrees

S.B., 1983, Massachusetts Institute of Technology S.M., 1983, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D., 1985, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Honors and Awards

AIAA Reed Aeronautics Award, 2018; SAE/AIAA William Littlewood Memorial Award, 2011; Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award, 2010; AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Best-Paper Award, 2009; AeroAstro Vicki Kerrebrock Award, 2008; Aer-Astro Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2007; ASME/AIAA SDM Best-Paper Award, 2000; Sigma Gamma Tau Graduate Teaching Award, 1998; DuPont Human-Powered Watercraft Speed-Record Prize, 1993; AIAA, Lawrence Sperry Award, 1991; Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1987-1991; Third Kremer Prize for Human-Powered Aircraft (co-recipient), 1984

Society Memberships

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Fellow; National Academy of Engineering, Member

Positions Held at MIT

Aeronautics and Astronautics Vehicle Sector Co-head, 2007-2011; Terry J. Kohler Professor, 2001-present; Professor, 2000 -2001; Associate Professor, 1991-2000; T. Wilson Associate Professor, 1991-1992; Carl Richard Soderberg Assistant Professor, 1988-1990; Assistant Professor, 1986-1991

Specialization and Research Interests

Aerodynamics, computational fluid dynamics, design methodology, low-order modeling of aeromechanical systems

Teaching Interests

Fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, aircraft design, Unified Engineering