Here at the UNT College of Engineering, our research in unmanned aircraft systems spans across a wide array of disciplines and applications. With 14 faculty members leading 12 graduate students and nearly 40 undergraduate students, our research intersects the disciplines of electrical, mechanical, engineering technology, materials science, and both computer science and computer engineering. Our team's research is focused on:

  • UAS Manufacturing and Materials Development
  • UAS Modeling and Simulation
  • UAS Air Platform and Morphing Structures
  • UAS Propulsion & Power
  • UAS Communications & Navigation
  • UAS Signal and Image Processing, AI
  • UAS Embedded Sensors, Failure and Design


Manufacturing and materials development

Prototyping & Manufacturing

Design and simulations

Design & simulations


Communications & controls

In-flight testing

In-flight testing

Acoustic & RF testing

Acoustic & RF testing

Ground testing

Ground testing

Engin wear & tribology

Engine wear & tribology

Noise mapping

Noise mapping

Surface engineering

Surface engineering

UAS Research Expertise in College of Engineering


Thanks to funding from the Army Research Laboratory, National Science Foundation, and NASA and our industry partners, Bell and Tribologix, we're able to dedicate our expertise within the college to help with:

  • UAS based quickly deployable networks for emergency responders communications (FEMA, …)
  • UAS traffic management, communication, reliability and security
  • Approaches for UAS flight safety navigation and controls with NASA, NSF
  • Lightweight aerospace materials with embedded sensors
  • Acoustic noise and imaging data processing
  • Material and design approaches for aerospace propulsion reliability, energy loss reduction, energy and thermal management
  • Cost effective manufacturing routes for UAS prototyping and making using Additive and Digital Manufacturing approaches.
  • High-fidelity modeling of UAS flight dynamics using our in-house Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) solver and UNT high performance computing (HPC) center
Networks for emergency responders
Lightweight materials
Acoustic noise and imaging data processing
Material and design approaches
High-fidelity modeling
Wear prevention


Faculty Research on UAS

UAS Internal Combustion Engine Propulsion


ARL-UNT researchers

UNT is a member of Center for Unmanned Aircraft System Propulsion (CUP) of ARL.

ARL-UNT Cooperative Agreement is supporting ARL/VTD ERP “Versatile Tactical Power and Propulsion” (VICTOR) led by Dr. Mike Kweon.

Light weight
Wear resistance
Low friction
Thermo-cycling &
T-shock resiliency
Stable ignition
Graph 1 - H/E vs R
Graph 2 - pressure vs CAD


Propulsion - Low Viscosity Fuel


Design of scuffing evaluation method

Property Modification
Purpose Material Evaluation
Substrate Material Hard 52100 Steel, Fe2B, WC-17Co, Co-Cr-Mo, WC-10Cr-4Co
Grinding Perpendicular
Temperature 40 ºC
Counter Body Al2O3
Contact Load 0.14 N - 4.0 N, 1.0 N - 18.0 N
Stroke Length 5 mm
Frequency 25 Hz
Lubrication F-24, Ethanol

Low viscosity fuel experiment hood setup

A method for a tribological experiment mimicking operation of fuel pump components in extreme low-viscosity fuels was designed.

The method uses High-Frequency Reciprocating Rig (HFRR) to improve repeatability and mirror application conditions of the CP3 fuel pump.

Worn engine combustion components

Wear of engin components

Bar chart - wear ratio vs different samples

Line chart - COF vs duration

Propulsion - Cylinder Liners


Goal: Develop light weight cylinder liners that provide high wear and thermal resistance, low friction, and that are stable and resilient to ignition cycling

Cylinder liner wear

Example of cylinder liner wear

Soldiers working on drone

Extending reliability and multifuel capability of UAS engines

Four images of coating

Design of composite PEO-Chameleon coatings for expanded range of temperature and environment conditions

One diagram and three graphs

Tribological testing with in situ Raman capability of UAS engine components


Development and Exploration of Technology for UAS


College of Engineering senior design projects sponsored by Army Research Lab
September 2019 - May 2020

Three Multidisciplinary Senior Design Teams

  • Thirty senior year students from four engineering programs, including electrical engineering, engineering technology, materials science and engineering, and mechanical and energy engineering departments
  • Ten faculty advisors from four engineering programs
  • Five research scientists as project team mentors from Vehicular Technology Directorate, Army Research Laboratory

Three Interdisciplinary Senior Design Projects


Project 1: Adjustable rotor blade pitch for UAS operations


Manufacturing blades 1
Manufacturing blades 2

Manufacturing blades using mold and 3D printing

Simulation graphic
 Various blades

Designing various blades using simulations

Modeling blades graphic 1
Modeling blades graphic 2

Modeling of the structural behavior of the designed blades

Six small images

Pitch adjustment based on NiTiAg Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) transition

Processing different components

Processing of different SMA compositions to enable RT transition

SMA with high crystallinity

SMA must provide enough stiffness to be a structural element. The designed SMA shows high crystallinity

XRD analysis graph

XRD analysis to reveal the most promising material composition for the pitch angle adjustment upon heating

Project 2: Versatile platform for measuring aerodynamics and aeroacoustics characteristics of UAS


In-chamber testing setup
In-chamber testing computer screen

In-chamber test platform for aeroacoustics and aerodynamics measurements

Car top testing setup

Car-top test platform for aeroacoustics and aerodynamics measurements

Webster Brown holding CR3 prototype

EE student Webster Brown with CR3 prototype manufactured at UNT

Aeroacoustic noise measurement graph
Aeroacoustic noise analysis graph

Aeroacoustics noise measurement and analysis

Project 3: Mechanical design-power-embedded sensing of shape morphing UAS Wings


UAS Murphy Wing prototype design

UAS Morphing Wing Prototype Design

Aspect ratio influence on lift and speed performance

Aspect ratio influence on lift and speed performance

Reconfigurable Embedded Antenna Design for UAS Communications

Reconfigurable Embedded Antenna Design for UAS Communications

Power consumption for quadrotor and morph wing control circuit

Power consumption for quadrotor and morph wing control circuit


Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering Research with Nandika D'Souza


Engagement in UAS Centers and Professional Organizations


IEEE Vehicular Technology SocietyIEEE Vehicular Technology Society

ARL Center for UAS Propulsion logoARL Center for UAS Propulsion