The Aerospace Systems Design Laboratory (ASDL) has been named the recipient of the Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Impact for 2024. Every year, Georgia Tech’s Office of the Executive Vice President for Research presents the Institute Research Awards, which are peer-nominated awards given to exceptional faculty and staff for their commitment to “Research That Matters” — achievements fueled by a profound mission to advance science and technology for the betterment of society. The Outstanding Achievement in Research Program Impact award recognizes a research team that implements a novel program to significantly expand Georgia Tech’s research portfolio.


Through its research methods and techniques, ASDL has made substantial impacts as a thought leader in a variety of areas. This is facilitated by the organizational structure and research approach that ASDL director Prof. Dimitri Mavris has established. ASDL currently supports 45 Research Engineers and 300 graduate students across seven divisions and has raised over $300M in research since its inception.

“The success of ASDL’s research program rests upon the core tenets of the lab: collaboration, engagement, and innovation,” commented Mavris, director of ASDL. “Although it is organized into divisions, ASDL functions as a matrixed organization that ensures sharing of knowledge and methods across the lab to achieve the best results for research. As a result, sponsored research leverages and benefits from resources and skill sets across the lab,” he added.

Over the past ten years, ASDL has been a driving force in three areas that support the evolution of the aerospace industry.

Aviation environment and sustainability


ASDL has had a strong research focus on aviation environmental issues through its Civil Aviation Research Division, led by Dr. Michelle Kirby (pictured on the right). ASDL research in this area focuses on setting environmental goals for international aviation, using advanced methods for safety and certification improvements, modeling of unconventional aircraft and optimizing their networks, and improving and validating aviation environmental modeling capabilities. Most of the research in this area is funded by the FAA Center of Excellence. Since 2017, ASDL has supported two major international studies conducted under the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection for the setting of long-term noise, emission, and fuel burn goals and the Long-Term Aspirational Goal for CO2 emissions.

Digital Engineering


Digital Engineering is concerned with advancements in computing, modeling, data management, and analytical capabilities to improve the practice of engineering. It does so by requiring the integration of a number of enablers, from IoT devices to data fusion techniques, machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches, Model-Based System Engineering, and augmented analytics. Through its Digital Engineering Division, led by Dr. Olivia Fischer (pictured on the right), ASDL supports research beyond aerospace engineering to include industries such as energy, manufacturing, transportation, smart cities, infrastructure, and automotive. In 2021, Siemens Technology and Georgia Institute of Technology launched the Center of Excellence for Simulation and Digital Twin. The center prepares ASDL students to enter the workforce while improving upon the role of digital engineering for buildings through utilizing data- and model-driven capabilities to optimize complex infrastructure systems. The center includes sponsored research, two annual student Grand Challenge projects, and four PhD fellowships. Over the past four years, ASDL has contributed to the development of two documents focused on the definition and implementation of Digital Twins: “Digital Twin: Definition & Value” and “Digital Twin: Reference Model, Realizations & Recommendations.” These documents aim at fostering the understanding and adoption of digital twins to benefit the aerospace industry.

Model-based Systems Engineering


Model-based systems engineering (MBSE) has been a key area of development in recent years for the ASDL’s Advanced Methods Division, led by Dr. Elena Garcia (pictured on the right). In 2017, Airbus and Georgia Institute of Technology opened the Airbus / Georgia Tech Center for Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE)- enabled Overall Aircraft Design (OAD). This center contributes to the development and demonstration of a concurrent overall aircraft design process – taking full advantage of MBSE, interactive, parametric design space exploration and digital enablers. Approximately 30 ASDL students have been supported by the project and a number of Ph.D. thesis topics have been inspired by this research collaboration. In addition, members of the ASDL team participate in relevant International Council on Systems Engineering working groups including the Object Management Group, which focuses on standardization efforts and developing the next generation of MBSE.