Dr. Robert A. Frederick, Jr.

Propulsion Research Center Director Professor, MAE


5000 Technology Drive NW
Olin B. King Technology Hall
Room S226
Huntsville, AL 35899
Campus Map



Dr. Frederick is a Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Director of the Propulsion Research Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. As a leader, Dr. Frederick directs the UAH Propulsion Research Center. The PRC currently involves over 100 researchers, students, and staff working together on research programs focused on Propulsion and Energy. Over the past 32 years, the PRC team supported the education of over 300 students who have completed advanced degrees while performing research. As a Principal Investigator, he has directed over 15.0 million dollars of research in solid, liquid, and hybrid propellants as well as torpedo combustors graduating over 100 advanced degree students. His current research programs are investigating controllable boost propulsion for hypersonic systems, centrifugal nuclear propulsion, supercritical injection, high-temperature seals, and ramjet propulsion.  

As a teacher, Dr. Frederick received the UAH Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching for developing an international, team-based design laboratory that integrates students and industry mentors from engineering, humanities, and business disciplines. He developed and taught the current Rocket Propulsion I course at UAH, the first undergraduate propulsion laboratory, the first Advanced Solid Rocket Propulsion course, and the current Rocket Propulsion II course. During the pandemic, Dr. Frederick and a team of instructional course designers and students completely revised the UAH Rocket Propulsion I class for 100% online delivery to 130 students.Throughout his UAH career, he has instructed over 2,100 students in basic and advanced propulsion classes at UAH.

Dr. Frederick is an AIAA Associate Fellow and American Society of Engineering Educators member. In 2017, the AIAA Solid Rocket TC presented him with the “Shaping the Future of Aerospace” award for “organizing the Propulsion Education Technical Sessions at the AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference for the past twenty years”. He is currently on the AIAA Education SciTech Committee.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Ph.D., Aerospace Engineering, Purdue University, 1988
  • M.S., Engineering, Purdue University, 1982
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, 1980


  • Combustion Instability in Liquid Rockets
  • Solid Propellant Burning Rate Measurements
  • Thermal Stability of Fuels
  • Controllable Solid Propellants

Recent Publications

  • Thomas, D., Houts, M., Wang, D., Hollingsworth, K., Frederick, R., and Cassibry, J., “Research Progress Toward Engineering Feasibility of the Centrifugal Nuclear Rocket,” 74th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Baku, Azerbaijan, 2-6 October 2023.

  • Berg, P., Loeblich, W., and Frederick, R., “Using CEQUEL for Thermochemistry Calculations in a Graduate Rocket Propulsion Course at UAH,”  AIAA 2023-1780, 2023 AIAA SciTech, January 26, 202Frederick, R. A., and Thomas, L. D., “Propulsion Research and Academic Programs at the University of Alabama in Huntsville,” AIAA 2023-1779, 2023 AIAA SciTech, January 26, 2023.

  • Frederick, R. A., and Thomas, L. D., “Propulsion Research and Academic Programs at the University of Alabama in Huntsville,” AIAA 2023-1779, 2023 AIAA SciTech, January 26, 2023.

  • Patel, A., and Frederick, R.A. “Experimental Investigation of PMMA Cooling Beds for Warm Gas Generator Applications,” AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol. 39, No. 1 (2023), pp. 11-17 doi: doi/abs/10.2514/1.B38530.

  • Baird, J.K., and Frederick, R.A. “Thermochemistry of Combustion in Polyvinyl Alcohol + Hydroxylammonium Nitrate,” Special Issue, Alternative Propellants for Space Propulsion,” Aerospace,  May, 2021

  • Jones, D., and Frederick, R.A., Jr., “Flammability Characterization of a Polysulfide Based Ramjet Fuel (UEGM-2020-2258), Journal of Energetic Materials, Published Online Nov. 27, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/07370652.2020.1851817

  • Berg, P., Frederick, R.A., Lineberry, D. and Jones, D., “Characterizing Reaction Dynamics and Decomposition Pathways of New Solid Fuels for SCRAMJET and RAMJET Combustors," AIAA Paper 2021-3354, 2021.

  • Frederick, R., Olten, T., and Reyes, J., “Building a 100% Online Rocket Propulsion Course During a Pandemic,” AIAA Paper 2021-3348, 2021.

  • Baird, J. K., Huang, S., and Frederick, R. A., Jr., “Space Charge Limited Conduction and Internal Electric Field in the Polyvinyl Alcohol + Hydroxyl Ammonium Nitrate Solid Propellant,” AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, Published Online: Feb 27, 2020; https://doi.org/10.2514/1.B37573.

  • Hitt, M.A., and Frederick, R.A., Jr., “Regression Rate Model Predictions of an Axial-Injection End-Burning Hybrid Motor,” AIAA Journal of Propulsion and Power, Vol.34, No. 5 (2018), pp. 1116-1123, https://doi.org/10.2514/1.B3683.