Gabriel Xu

Gabriel Xu

Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH)


I am an associate professor here in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. At UAH there’s an academic side and a research side. Most people will generally only see one or the other so as a tenure track faculty member I straddle both sides. I teach classes during the semester but I also have to do research. I have graduate students and I have contracts and funding as we do various research type things.

I got my bachelors, masters and PhD in Aerospace Engineering from The Georgia Institute of Technology. I always liked space and airplanes as a kid. It really started when they started showing reruns of Star Trek Next Generation on TV when I was a kid, that’s what I grew up with and I always wanted to be Geordi La Forge, the engineer, on the show and wanted to know how to build these things and I liked space airplanes rockets things like that so I pursued aerospace engineering.

When I was graduating I was looking for a job and I always thought of teaching. The opportunity came up and Huntsville is a big center of aerospace, so I thought “let me apply” and luck would have it, I happen to get the job so I came here and I’ve enjoyed it very much, I enjoy working with students and the community. This is very much a hub of aerospace engineering. I can find lots of fellow engineers around who have the same ideas and the same types of interests which I found really encouraging that other people around you can talk shop, you can get along with them. I like going to the [Space and] Rocket Center. I have been to it a number of times but I still like going to Rocket center and the Davidson Center where you can stand at the end of the Saturn 5. I can look up at it and it’s still impressive, it still gives me chills.

So my research falls under the umbrella what’s called low temperature plasma science and engineering. So in the aerospace engineering department we use that for things in space propulsion, combustion science, and material chemistry. So my background with my graduate work on was plasma thrusters like propulsion for satellites. So what these space one mission to do Dawn Mission use for example. But here I do some of that. I also do some plasma assisted combustion as well as plasmic treatment for stable decontamination of water or systems nanoparticles. So some material chemistry type behaviors.