Research Opportunities

You don’t have to be a graduate student to do research in AeroAstro — we have a range of research opportunities in which you can work, sometimes as early as your first year at MIT. As a participant in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), you can work with faculty as a junior colleague in every phase of their research: developing plans, writing proposals, conducting research, analyzing data, presenting research results. You may find yourself working on a project sponsored by the FAA, NASA, or a private aerospace company. UROPs are a great way to explore aerospace research, prepare for graduate school and future careers, connect with faculty and apply classroom learning to real-world research.

UROPs take place during the academic year and over the summer. Projects may last for an entire semester; some continue for a year or more. UROP students receive academic credit, pay, or are volunteers, depending on the project. A UROP may not be pursued for both pay and credit within a term. Ineligible for UROPs are special students, students on leave from MIT, and students who have completed their degree program (unless they stay registered to finish a double major).

If you’re interested in particular research areas, you should:

If you have general UROP questions or concerns, contact UROP coordinator Marie Stuppard.

Current AeroAstro Research Opportunities

View current AeroAstro undergraduate research opportunities below. Submit an opportunity (Note: Touchstone login required.)

Open opportunities are listed in chronological order, with the most recent submissions at the top.

Affiliated Lab/Research Group: Aerospace Plasma Group (APG)

Are you curious about numerical simulation of streamers (and other low temperature plasma discharges)? We are looking for someone that has some basic experience and/or interest in PDE numerical methods and/or Julia, who would be interested in using an in-house-developed 1.5D fluid plasma solver to investigate streamer discharges.

The objective will be to improve the accuracy of an in-house 1.5D fluid plasma code, by implementing a more accurate model of the radial profile of the plasma density. The project will involve coding in Julia and validation by comparing to experimental streamer data.

Students who may apply:
Preferably current 2nd or 3rd year MIT undergraduates that have some prior experience and/or interest in PDE numerical methods and/or plasmas. To apply, please send a short resume/background info to Lee Strobel (e-mail below). Please note this position is only available to MIT undergraduatesother applicants will not be considered.

  • Students who may apply: Sophomores, Juniors (MIT undergraduates)
  • Compensation: Apply to direct-UROP funding:
  • Projection Duration: Summer 2024

For more information or to apply, contact: Lee Strobel (direct supervisor). The faculty supervisor is Professor Carmen Guerra-Garcia (

Affiliated Lab/Research Group: Astrodynamics, Space Robotics, and Controls Lab (ARCLab) 

The Satellite Pattern-of-Life Identification Challenge tackles the urgent need for more efficient and accurate tracking and orbit prediction capabilities for active satellites in the increasingly crowded near-Earth space environment. The UROP will work with challenge organizers to analyze on-orbit behaviors and label specific attributes of satellites’ observed patterns-of-life.

As space activities expand, the demand for advanced technologies to monitor and manage satellite behavior becomes paramount. The challenge aims to provide a solution by tasking participants with developing cutting-edge AI algorithms for automated satellite pattern-of-life characterization using astrometric time-series data. Satellite Patterns of Life (PoLs) describe on-orbit behavior composed of sequences of both natural and non-natural behavioral modes. Throughout the operational lifetimes of Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites, operators issue commands to place them in various behavioral modes, from station-keeping to longitudinal shifts and end-of-life behaviors. The UROP will learn how to identify these patterns and changes in satellite behavior and will become familiar with common types of satellite propulsion in order to label PoLs within astrometric time-series data. Once characterized with PoL labels, this data will be used to evaluate the AI algorithms submitted by challenge competitors.

Preferred, but not necessary qualifications:
– Familiarity with Python programming
– Familiarity with orbit propagation and/or spacecraft dynamics
– Interest in space traffic management, satellite operations, and/or satellite propulsion

  • Students who may apply: First Years, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors
  • Compensation: For Credit or For Pay

For more information or to apply, contact: Liz Solera,

Affiliated Lab/Research Group: Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment (LAE)

Project Description
Electroaerodynamic (EAD) propulsion uses high voltages to ionize and accelerate air, generating thrust. This method of aircraft propulsion has no moving parts, is nearly silent, and produces no direct combustion emissions. In 2017, our team built and flew an RC aircraft propelled entirely by EAD thrust. The test campaign achieved steady level flight, demonstrating for the first time that fixed-wing EAD flight is feasible [1]. This first-generation prototype employed the latest advances in EAD thruster technology; it also carried a custom-built high-voltage power converter (HVPC) to generate the required voltages.

Our team is designing a next- generation prototype EAD aircraft. This aircraft will incorporate novel multistaged ducted (MSD) EAD thrusters, in which multiple miniaturized EAD thruster stages are enclosed inside a duct [2]. The goal of this project is to move from a feasible system to a practical one; i.e., with sufficient payload, range/endurance, and flight performance for an initial application.

As a member of the EAD team, you will be responsible for designing, building, and testing structural, electrical, and avionics components of our new aircraft prototype. This will be a highly hands-on and iterative project; you will be working closely with the rest of the team to improve and refine your designs.

This is a paid position for Spring 2024, with the possibility of extension. No prior experience is required. However, the ideal candidate will have some experience with manufacturing (e.g., from MIT design teams or similar organizations) and CAD software (SolidWorks preferred). Machine shop training is desirable; experience with RC aircraft, 3D printing, and Python and/or MATLAB are a bonus. Preference will be given to candidates who can commit to working over IAP 2024 as well, although this is negotiable.

Interested students should send a resume to Arthur Brown ( by Friday, December 22.

[1] H. Xu et al., “Flight of an aeroplane with solid-state propulsion,” Nature, vol. 563, no. 7732, pp. 532–535, 2018, doi: 10.1038/s41586-018-0707-9.
[2] N. Gomez-Vega, A. Brown, H. Xu, and S. R. H. Barrett, “Model of Multistaged Ducted Thrusters for High-Thrust-Density Electroaerodynamic Propulsion,” AIAA Journal, vol. 61, no. 2, pp. 767–779, Feb. 2023, doi: 10.2514/1.J061948.

  • Project Duration: Spring 2024
  • Compensation: For Pay

For more information or to apply, contact: Arthur Brown,

Paid/Credit UROPS


To obtain a paid UROP, students must submit a proposal for direct UROP or research-sponsored funding by the Institute’s UROP deadline. During the fall and spring terms, most students typically work 12 hours per week and as many as 40 hours per week during IAP and the summer. MIT has an established hourly rate for UROP pay, however, at the discretion of a UROP supervisor and the department, students whose stipend is covered through research funds may earn a higher rate. Students are expected to keep track of their worked hours and submit electronic timesheets on a weekly basis. Students paid through direct UROP funds need to print their weekly timesheets for approval by their direct supervisor and bring a copy to the Course 16 student financial administrator Carol Niemi, Room 33-208. If students decide not to pursue a UROP after it has been approved, it is advisable that they immediately notify the research supervisor, the UROP Office, and Carol Niemi.

In accordance with U.S. immigration law, all student workers (and other MIT employees) are required to provide proof of identity and authorization to work in the United States. Before they can be paid, new student workers must complete Section 1 of the I-9 form electronically in MIT’s online system. The employee/student worker has three business days from hire date to present original supporting documentation in person to the Atlas Service Center.

Credit UROP

Credit UROPs can be performed during the academic year and over the summer. Note that few students enroll in credit UROPs in the summer as tuition charges will be applied.

To do a UROP for credit, students submit a proposal <> by the Institute’s UROP deadline and register in WebSIS <> for 16.UR (pass/fail) by Drop Date. An AeroAstro student doing a UROP for credit outside of the department registers for a UROP number in that department (e.g., 2.URG, 6.UR, 8.UR). The number of units a student earns is equal to the number of weekly hours devoted to the project. At the end of each term, AeroAstro UROP supervisors submit a grade and an evaluation of the student’s performance on the project. Credit hours may be adjusted at that time if the supervisor deems that the student has worked fewer or more weekly hours on the project.