MITx: 16.101x: Introduction to Aerodynamics

School: MITx
Course Code: 16.101x
Classes Start: 26 Sep 2013
Course Length: 15 weeks
Estimated effort: 12 hours per week


Basic mechanics, vector calculus, differential equations, introductory gas dynamics (control volume analysis).

Introduction to Aerodynamics

Introduction to Aerodynamics

Discover the basic fluid dynamic concepts behind aircraft analysis and design.

About this Course

*Note - This is an Archived course*

This is a past/archived course. At this time, you can only explore this course in a self-paced fashion. Certain features of this course may not be active, but many people enjoy watching the videos and working with the materials. Make sure to check for reruns of this course.

This is a course about aerodynamics, i.e. the study of the flow of air about a body. In our case, the body will be an airplane, but much of the aerodynamics in this course is relevant to a wide variety of applications from sailboats to automobiles to birds. Students completing 16.101x will gain a conceptual understanding of aerodynamic models used to predict the forces on and performance of aircraft.

Topics covered are relevant to the aerodynamic performance of wings and bodies in subsonic, transonic, and supersonic regimes. Specifically, we address subsonic potential flows, including source/vortex panel methods; viscous flows, including laminar and turbulent boundary layers; aerodynamics of airfoils and wings, including thin airfoil theory, lifting line theory, and panel method/interacting boundary layer methods; and supersonic airfoil theory.

Before your course starts, try the new edX Demo where you can explore the fun, interactive learning environment and virtual labs. Learn more.


Ways to take this edX course:

Simply Audit this Course

Audit this course for free and have complete access to all of the course material, tests, and the online discussion forum. You decide what and how much you want to do.


Try for a Certificate

Looking to test your mettle? Participate in all of the course's activities and abide by the edX Honor Code. If your work is satisfactory, you'll receive a personalized certificate to showcase your achievement.

Course Staff

  • David L. Darmofal

    David L. Darmofal

    David Darmofal is a Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and member of the MIT Aerospace Computational Design Laboratory. His principal areas of interest are computational methods for fluid and aerodynamic design; robust design of turbomachinery including effects of manufacturing and wear; and engineering education innovation. In recognition of excellence in teaching and advising, he was honored with the MIT School of Engineering Bose Award for Junior Faculty in 2002, appointed as an MIT MacVicar Faculty Fellow in 2004, and received the MIT Earll M. Murman Award for Excelllence in Undergraduate Advising in 2011. Recently, Prof. Darmofal was named the Raymond Bisplinghoff Faculty Fellow in recognition of his contributions in research, teaching, and service to the MIT Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics.

  • Alejandra Uranga

    Alejandra Uranga

    Dr Alejandra Uranga is a Research Engineer in the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She holds a MASc from the University of Victoria, BC, Canada, and a PhD degree from MIT. Her research has been in Computational Fluid Dynamics, specifically the modeling and simulation of turbulence and transition. She is currently the project technology lead for design, development, simulation, and wind tunnel testing of an advanced transport aircraft concept under the NASA N+3 program.

  • Chad Lieberman

    Chad Lieberman

    Chad Lieberman is the MIT School of Engineering Postdoctoral Associate in Education. He has earned a Ph.D. in Aeronautics & Astronautics, S.M. in Computation for Design & Optimization, B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, and B.S. in Mathematics, all from MIT. Chad is excited to continue ongoing explorations in pedagogical research and development in a new and exciting medium, online learning on edX!


Basic mechanics, vector calculus, differential equations, introductory gas dynamics (control volume analysis).


Is there a required textbook?

You do not need to buy a textbook. All material is included in the edX course and is viewable online.

Will certificates be awarded?

Yes. Online learners who achieve a passing grade in a course can earn an honor code certificate of achievement. These certificates will indicate you have successfully completed the course, but will not include a specific grade. The certificates will be issued by edX under the name of MITx.

Can I still register after the start date?

You can register at any time, but you will not get credit for any assignments that are past due.

How are grades assigned?

Grades are made out of four parts: responses to concept questions embedded in the reading; weekly homework problems; and two exams, one at the midpoint and one at the end of the course. Details of the grading will be provided at the beginning of the course.

How does this course use videos? Do I need to watch the lectures live?

Various videos will be provided including: discussions of concept questions; sample problem solutions; and some short lectures on selected topics. You can watch these at your leisure.

Will the material be made available to anyone registered for this course?

Yes, all the material will be made available to all students.

What are the prerequisites?

The student is expected to have some knowledge of basic physics, vector calculus, and basic differential equations. Some familiarity with introductory gas dynamics (in particular control volume analysis) is also assumed, though additional, optional background material will be provided as part of the course content discussing the necessary gas dynamics.

We do not check students for prerequisites, so you are certainly allowed to try. If you do not know those subjects before taking the class, you will have to learn them over the semester, which can be an extremely difficult task.