Robert F. Stengel

Princeton University
School of Engineering and Applied Science
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Robert Stengel is a Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Director of the Program in Robotics and Intelligent Systems. His current research focuses on robust control, robotics, and intelligent systems. Dr. Stengel will teach Robotics and Intelligent Systems in the Fall 2015 term.

Prior to joining the Princeton faculty in 1977, Dr. Stengel was with The Analytic Sciences Corporation, Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, the US Air Force, and NASA. At the Draper Laboratory (1968-73), he was principal designer of the Apollo Project Lunar Module manual control logic used for all moon landings, and he contributed to Space Shuttle guidance and control system design. There, he also initiated a project to develop a Bedside Biomedical Computer for the analysis of cardiovascular data. His work at TASC (1973-77) included optimal-control modeling of the human pilot and resulting interactions with aircraft dynamics, fuel-optimal flight paths for jet transports, digital control of high-performance aircraft and helicopters, submarine dynamics and control, and statistical assessment of the effects of electric powerplant waste water on biologically indigenous populations. While serving as an Air Force lieutenant (1960-63), he was a Range Safety Officer at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility.

During 2005, Professor Stengel was on sabbatical leave as a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study. He was affiliated with the Simons Center for Systems Biology in the School of Natural Sciences. While on sabbatical leave in 1998, Professor Stengel was a Visiting Professor/Scholar at Duke University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Cambridge, Delft University of Technology, Imperial College of Science, Medicine, and Technology, University of California at San Diego, and Stanford University. From 1994 to 1997, he served as the Engineering School's Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. During that time, he initiated new programs of graduate study and undergraduate computer education, and he developed an innovative approach to teaching engineering freshman seminars. As Director of Princeton's Flight Research Laboratory from 1977 to 1983, Stengel, his students, and staff conducted pioneering experimental research on digital flight control systems, flight computer networking via fiber-optics, aircraft flying qualities, and aerodynamic system identification. This research used Princeton's two fly-by-wire, variable-stability aircraft and a specially instrumented sailplane.

Dr. Stengel received the S.B. degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from M.I.T (1960) and M.S.E., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in Aerospace and Mechanical Sciences from Princeton University (1965, 1966, 1968). He is a Life Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a Life Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He has received the AIAA G. Edward Pendray Aerospace Literature Award (2012), the John R. Ragazzini Education Award of the American Automatic Control Council (2002) and the AIAA Mechanics and Control of Flight Award (2000). Together with R. John Hansman, MIT, and Robert Lilley, Ohio University, he is the recipient of the FAA's 1997 Excellence in Aviation Award.

Selected Publications and Presentations


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Course Descriptions

Graduate Alumni/ae


Princeton University's Flight Research Laboratory (1943-1983) (pdf)