Robert F. Stengel

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

Robert Stengel is a Professor Emeritus of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His current interests focus on aircraft and spaceflight dynamics, control system design, and biodynamic systems. A second edition of his book Flight Dynamics (Princeton University Press) was published in November 2022.

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 created a preliminary design for the Space Shuttle atmospheric flight control system. There, he also initiated a project to develop a Bedside Biomedical Computer for the analysis of cardiovascular data, a precursor to today's computer-based EKG machines. His work at TASC (1973-77) included modeling of pilot/aircraft interactions, fuel-optimal flight of 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.

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. In 1998, he founded Princeton's Certificate Program in Robotics and Intelligent Systems. During his 20 years as director of the program, over 350 students were awarded the certificate at graduation. 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. He also has investigated immune system dynamics and control.

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). He is a co-recipient of the FAA's first Excellence in Aviation Award.

Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications and Presentations


Open Courseware

Selected Journal Papers

Selected Conference Papers

Selected Talks


Course Descriptions

Graduate Alumni/ae


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