Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

Douglas F. Hunsaker


Geordie Richards


Robert E. Spall


James J. Joo


Barton L. Smith


This work focuses on the development of efficient methods for wing shape optimization for morphing wing technologies. Existing wing shape optimization processes typically rely on computational fluid dynamics tools for aerodynamic analysis, but the computational cost of these tools makes optimization of all but the most basic problems intractable. In this work, we present a set of tools that can be used to efficiently explore the design spaces of morphing wings without reducing the fidelity of the results significantly. Specifically, this work discusses automatic differentiation of an aerodynamic analysis tool based on lifting line theory, a light-weight gradient-based optimization framework that provides a parallel function evaluation capability not found in similar frameworks, and a modification to the lifting line equations that makes the analysis method and optimization process suitable to wings of arbitrary aspect ratio. The toolset discussed is applied to several wing shape optimization problems. Additionally, a method for visualizing the design space of a morphing wing using this toolset is presented. As a result of this work, a light-weight wing shape optimization method is available for analysis of morphing wing designs that reduces the computational cost by several orders of magnitude over traditional methods without significantly reducing the accuracy of the results.