Faculty Directory

Paley, Derek A.

Paley, Derek A.

Willis H. Young Jr. Professor of Aerospace Engineering Education
Director, Maryland Robotics Center
Director, Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory
Director, Autonomous Micro Air Vehicle Team
Aerospace Engineering
The Institute for Systems Research
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Maryland Robotics Center
3150 Glenn L. Martin Hall

Derek A. Paley is Director of the Maryland Robotics Center and Willis H. Young Jr. Professor of Aerospace Engineering Education in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and the Institute for Systems Research at the University of Maryland. He is the founding director of the UMD Collective Dynamics and Control Laboratory, the UMD Autonomous Micro Air Vehicle Team, and the UMD FIRE Autonomous Unmanned Systems Stream. Paley is an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and a member of the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center, the Maryland Robotics Center, the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, the Burgers Program for Fluid Dynamics, the Applied Mathematics & Statistics, and Scientific Computation Program, and the Brain and Behavior Initiative. Paley received the B.S. degree in Applied Physics from Yale University in 1997 and the Ph.D. degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University in 2007. He is the recipient of the Yale University Henry Prentiss Becton Prize for Excellence in Engineering and Applied Science in 1997, the Princeton University Harold W. Dodds Honorific Fellowship in 2006, the National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2010, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2012, the University of Maryland E. Robert Kent Teaching Award for Junior Faculty in 2014, and the AIAA National Capital Section Engineer of the Year in 2015. Paley was a Fellow in the 2013–2014 Office of Naval Research Sabbatical Fellowship Program and is a Fellow in the 2019–2020 UMD ADVANCE Leadership Fellows Program. Paley has authored more than 130 peer-reviewed publications including one textbook: Engineering Dynamics: A Comprehensive Introduction (Princeton University Press, 2011). He teaches introductory dynamics, advanced dynamics, aircraft flight dynamics and control, and nonlinear control. Paley’s research interests are in the area of dynamics and control, including cooperative control of autonomous vehicles, adaptive sampling with mobile networks, and spatial modeling of biological groups. His research is based on support by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. Paley is Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He serves as Associate Editor of AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics.


B.S., Yale University, 1997 (Applied Physics)

Ph.D., Princeton University, 2007 (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)

Honors and awards

Received NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Award, 2010

Elected AIAA Associate Fellow (highest grade below fellow), 2010

Elected IEEE Senior Member (highest grade below fellow), 2011

Selected as Fellow in the 2013-2014 Office of Naval Research Sabbatical Leave Program

Received Willis H. Young Jr. Faculty Fellowship, Department of Aerospace Engineering, 2013-2016

Received the 2012 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)

E. Robert Kent Teaching Award for Junior Faculty, Clark School of Engineering, University of Maryland, 2014

Engineer of the Year, AIAA National Capital Section, 2015

Selected Speaker at the U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium, National Academy of Engineering, 2016

Robert M. Sanner Broken Propeller Award, Department of Aerospace Engineering, University of Maryland, 2016, 2017, and 2018

Fellow, UMD ADVANCE Leadership Fellows Program, 2019–2020

Professional memberships

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA Associate Fellow)

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE Senior Member)

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM Member)

Professional Service

Member, AIAA Guidance, Navigation, and Control Technical Committee, 2008-2013

Member, IEEE Control Systems Society, Aerospace Controls Technical Committee, 2013-2017

Associate Editor, AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamicsm 2013-present

Associate Editor, American Control Conference, 2013 & 2014

Associate Editor, IEEE Transactions on Control of Network Systems, 2014-2017

Guest Editor, Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, Special Issue on Bioinspired Soft Robotics, 2016



  • Dynamics, estimation, and control: Cooperative control of autonomous vehicles
  • Mobile sensor networks: Adaptive sampling of spatiotemporal processes
  • Biocomplexity and bioinspiration: Quantitative modeling of animal groups and behavior

Two Clark School teams take top spots in VFS micro air vehicle competition

The electric-powered, vertical take-off and landing, micro air vehicle competition encourages student interest in autonomous/unmanned aircraft technology and small air vehicle design and fabrication.

Derek Paley named Maryland Robotics Center director

Paley's term will begin July 1, 2019.

Ghodssi gives distinguished lecture on devices for gastrointestinal health at EPFL in Switzerland

Trip also included visits to the Wyss Center and Imperial College London.

ECE’s Ferlic, Goswami, and Zhang Named Outstanding Graduate Assistants

Recipients of the award are among the top 2 percent of GAs on campus in a given year.

Five recipients of ISR Graduate Student Travel Award announced

Eight graduate students have received funding through the award since 2017.

Bioinspired robotics REU students present final projects

The REU was led by Hugh Bruck and Sarah Bergbreiter, along with Clark School faculty and graduate student mentors.

Paley Presents at NAE 2016 Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

Three Clark School faculty attend NAE 2016 Frontiers of Engineering Symposium.

Alumnus Xiaobo Tan promoted to full professor at Michigan State

Tan earned a 2002 Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland.

New ONR grant for bio-inspired underwater sensing and control

Derek Paley is PI; alum Xiaobo Tan is one of the co-PIs.