Dr. Ronald M. Barrett-Gonzalez

Ron Barrett-Gonzalez
  • Professor

Contact Info

Office Phone:
Department Phone:
Learned Hall, room #2124


Research interests:

  • Aircraft Design
  • Adaptive Aerostructures
  • Helicopter Aerodynamics
  • Missiles
  • Munitions
  • UAVs


The strongest statement that I can make with respect to my philosophy on teaching is related to a question put to me some time ago at my high school class reunion: "So, what do you do for a living?" Although my answers could have ranged from "Engineer," to "Researcher," to "Professor," there was only one answer: "I am a teacher." I consider this to be my primary responsibility, not just because I was hired to teach, but because I love it. I enjoy interacting with students, helping them learn and discover that Aerospace Engineering is much more than a collection of equations and analytical procedures. Indeed, our field is rich with history and interconnected to countless other disciplines. I take great pleasure in introducing my students to this unique and dynamic past. From ancient mythologies, to centuries-old inventions, to the early writings of authors like Mouillard and Verne, my students learn to see themselves and their work in context. My courses are heavily grounded in the history of not only the physical principles under study, but the technologists who worked on them, how they were unearthed, and what impact these discoveries had on the field of Aerospace Engineering and the world around us. Because I believe that learning is easier and information is held longer when concepts are presented in an interesting manner, I have consistently worked to physically demonstrate the principles and systems under study. In Helicopter Aerodynamics Class, for example, I built six different demonstration rigs which show phenomena from dynamic lift enhancement, to pitch-flap coupling to rotor blade tip-vortex roll-up. I often find students experimenting with them long after class has ended. In Design II, students design, build, and fly their own aircraft. The importance of laying up composite wings, or routing control linkages or witnessing first-hand what a spiral instability looks like, cannot be overstated. In addition to physical demonstrations, I also take my classes on an average of one field trip per semester, per course. To actually see a rocket sled test at Redstone Arsenal, or crawl inside the fuselage of a PBY-5 Catalina, or witness a formation of aircraft at an airshow demonstrates much more than the principles of flight. For so many students, it reinforces the romance which many of us have with our chosen field. When I went through the AE program, I was fortunate enough to have instructors who went the extra mile to reinforce this fascination with flight. Like all of us, I have forgotten many "facts" -- buried in the mountain of chalk and dust of dry lectures; however, I vividly remember the crystalline fracture face of a tensile test article, the shear layer formation of jet exhaust in the propulsion cell and the exploding vapor bubble from the transonic flow on top of a Thunderbird's wing ... from nearly two decades ago. To further enhance teaching, I also hold to the philosophy that research and teaching are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, I believe quite the opposite is true. In my Adaptive Aerostructures and Aircraft Design courses, students work on projects which are at the forefront of modern technology. In courses such as these, the line between teaching and research is nonexistant. After learning the basics on material properties and structural integration, students tackle class projects which show that learning and discovery come as a result of careful, inspired research. The products of this course are of such significance that they have been included in several technical papers, numerous magazine articles, television specials and even patents. Clearly, this style of teaching induces more contact hours than recorded on any official time sheet. However, if I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it. I am generally accessible to my students at work and home, 7 days a week. Accordingly, to ask for a "self-evaluation" of my teaching is not really necessary. I simply have fun and hold to a few general principles: ground the subject in history, demand high quality work, challenge students, be accessible, be fair, and make it interesting.

Teaching interests:

  • Aircraft Design
  • Helicopter Aerodynamics
  • Adaptive Aerostructures

Selected Publications

Barrett, Ronald M, Ronald P Barrett, and Cassandra M Barrett. “Design and Testing of Botanical Thermotropic Actuator Mechanisms in Thermally Adaptive Building Coverings.” Journal Articles. Bioinspired Smart Materials and Systems 26, no. 9 (July 17, 2017). http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1361-665X/aa797a.
Barrett, Ronald. “Hybrid Aircraft Aerodynamics and Aerodynamic Design Considerations of Hover ]to ]Dash Convertible UAVs.” Book Chapters. In Advanced UAV Aerodynamics, Flight Stability and Control: Novel Concepts, Theory and Applications, 423–46. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2017. http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118928687.html.
Bramlette, Richard B, and Ronald M Barrett. Design and Flight Testing of a Convertible Quadcopter for Maximum Flight Speed. Conference Proceedings. Proceedings of the 55th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, AIAA SciTech Forum, 8 - 12 January 2017, 2017. https://doi.org/10.2514/6.2017-0243.
Bramlette, Richard B, Taylor A Johnston, and Ronald M Barrett. Design, Construction, and Flight Testing of the World’s Fastest Micro-Scale Quadcopter. Conference Proceedings. Proceedings of the 55th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, AIAA SciTech Forum, 2017.
Bramlette, Richard B, Christopher Depcik, and Ronald M Barrett. The Effects of Planar Symmetry and Radiative Heat Losses in a Three-Dimensional Transient CFD Simulation of Right Angle Flow Through a Brayton-Gluhareff Cycle Pressure Jet Engine. Conference Proceedings. Proceedings of the 55th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, AIAA SciTech Forum, 8 - 12 January 2017, 2017.
Bramlette, Richard B, Ronald  M Barrett, Christopher Depcik, and Irina Gluhareff. The Effects of Scaling on the Design and Performance of the Brayton-Gluhareff Pressure Jet Engine. Conference Proceedings. Proceedings of the 55th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, AIAA SciTech Forum, 8 - 12 January 2017, 2017.
Barrett, Ronald. Statistical Time and Market Predictive Engineering Design (STAMPED) Techniques for Preliminary Aircraft Sizing, CEAS2015-206. Conference Proceedings. 5th Annual Challenges in European Airspace Conference (CEAS) Conference, Delft, Holland, 2015.
Sinn, Thomas, and Barrett Ronald. “Design, Manufacturing and Test of a High Lift Secondary Flight Control Surface with Shape Memory Alloy Post-Buckled Precompressed Actuators.” Journal Articles. Actuators 2015, 4, 156-171; Doi:10.3390/Act4030156 2076-0825.Mdpi.Com/Journal/Actuators 4, no. 3 (June 28, 2015): 156–71. https://doi.org/10.3390/act4030156.
Barrett, Ronald, and Cassandra Barrett. “Biomimetic FAA-Certifiable Artificial Muscle Structures for Commercial Aircraft Wings.” Journal Articles. Journal of Smart Materials and Structures 23, no. 7 (May 2014): 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1088/0964-1726/23/7/074011.
Barrett, R., C. Bennett, A. Matamoros, and S. Rolfe. “CFRP Retrofits for Extending the Fatigue Life of Steel Bridges Subjected to Distortion- Induced Fatigue.” Book Chapters. In Rehabilitation of Metallic Civil Infrastructure Using Fibre Reinforced Polymer. Woodhead Publishing, 2014.
Barrett, Ronald M. 20 Years of Adaptive Aerostructures in Flying Missiles, Munitions and UAVS. Conference Proceedings. ASME 2014 Conference on Smart Materials, Adaptive Structures and Intelligent Systems SMASIS 2014, September 8–10, Newport, Rhode Island USA, Paper No. SMASIS2014-7662. Washington, DC: The American Society for Mechanical Engineers, 2014.
Barrett, R., and R. Barnhart. “Solid State Adaptive Rotor Using Post-Buckled Precompressed, Bending-Twist Coupled Piezoelectric Actuator Elements.” Journal Articles. Journal of Smart Materials Research 2012, no. 1 (2012): 832939.