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Energy & Environment

Aerospace engineering strives to push limits to go further with efficiency. We are advancing efficient launch mechanisms and fuel and propulsion options to get us into deep space. Out of this pursuit for deep space propulsion comes our pursuit for fusion energy solutions here on Earth. We produce aerodynamic surfaces and structures that reduce drag and save energy on not only air, space and underwater vehicles, but also large systems producing energy such as wind and marine turbines. We also develop lighter, stronger composite materials that require less energy to produce, transport and operate.

We are also working actively to benchmark and improve environmental conditions by developing satellites and drone systems to monitor several environmental markers and ecosystems. We are also agile in our applications. One example is we are developing methodologies to improve the study of corals and building structures to support them as they recover.

Student club highlight

members of the SARP team posing outside with a rocket

Society for Advanced Rocket Propulsion (SARP)

As the University of Washington’s student-run rocketry organization, we design, construct, test, and launch a hybrid engine rocket from the ground up every year. We participate in the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association’s (ERSA) Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) to show what our rocket can do alongside 95 other teams from around the world. In 2018, we placed first in the highest altitude category at 30,000 feet with a student-researched and designed propulsion system.

Research highlights


New law of physics finds a sweet spot for aircraft efficiency

A&A researchers in the Computational Fluid Mechanics Lab prove the existence of a new law of physics.

a young man standing on a rock with water behind him

Undergraduate coral research wins national recognition

A summer program in oceanography paved the way for Isaiah Cuadras to apply his interest in fluid dynamics to ocean ecosystems.

a young woman and young man observe a cross-flow turbine in the Alice C. Tyler flume in the UW Harris Hydraulics Lab

Aerospace turns the tide on marine energy

A&A's Owen Williams advises how to map the hydrodynamics of marine cross-flow turbines to advance cost-effective industry standards.

members of the FuZE Lab

Plasma flows may provide the missing ingredient to a cheaper, more compact route to nuclear fusion

A&A's FuZE Lab has developed a smaller, cheaper method for thermonuclear fusion using a Z-pinch to compress flowing plasma.

Award highlights

a man inspects a marine energy turbine at UW's Alice C. Tyler Flume

UW's marine renewable energy research gets a boost

Two recent funding announcements from the U.S. Department of Energy are good news for UW’s marine renewable energy research.

A&A's fusion energy labs receive $3.5M

The funding moves us closer to initial commercialization for cost-competitive fusion energy.

coral reef

Using engineering materials to study coral reefs

Associate professor Jinkyu Yang and a team of researchers have received a two-year, $1.7 million National Science Foundation grant to study coral growth.

A&A professor Uri Shumlak elected American Physical Society Fellow

Professor Uri Shumlak has been elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society for pioneering investigations of sheared flow stabilization in the Z-pinch.

Related News

blue and green plasma flow Illustration

Tue, 03/01/2022

NSF invests in UW’s plasma modeling

The National Science Foundation invests in our labs to advance plasma modeling for propulsion and cleaner energy.

Chris Hansen

Sat, 11/06/2021 | GeekWire

The buzz about fusion energy: Expert explains industry’s ‘reinvigoration’ as tech attracts VC dollars

A&A’s Chris Hansen talks fusion energy with GeekWire, discussing the current industry state as VC dollars flood in.

Zap Energy Photo

Wed, 05/26/2021 | GeekWire

Seattle startup ZaP Energy lands $27.5M to build commercial fusion reactor without magnets

A&A's Flow Z-Pinch Lab spinoff ZaP Energy has landed $27.5M to build commercial reactor without magnets.

A coral reef with orange fish swimming around

Tue, 04/20/2021 | UW News

Analyzing the barely perceptible

Researchers from A&A's Laboratory for Engineered Materials and Structures refine image-analysis methods to capture subtle coral movements.