Welcome Tim Sands

Tim Sands
  • New Faculty Year: 2020

Dr. Timothy Sands joins the faculty in a joint position with Systems Engineering and the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, where his research and teaching focus on astronautical engineering and systems engineering. From 2010 through 2020, he was an executive leader of both military postgraduate universities—the Air Force Institute of Technology and the Naval Postgraduate School—serving sequentially as chief academic officer, associate provost, dean, associate dean, and research center director in addition to serving as a fellow of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

His work with the military included collaborations between the military services and academia, forming new education programs integrating courses from Harvard, Stanford, and King’s College London into the education of military members. He also executed the DARPA Challenge for digital manufacturing analysis, correlation, and estimation (DMACE), investigating the science behind the burgeoning field of digital manufacturing.

During nearly three decades of active duty service in the U.S. Air Force, he performed space mission design and space experimentation for the Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program (STP) including the middle atmosphere high resolution spectrograph investigation (MAHRSI) flown in the pallet system on space shuttle mission STS-66. He also worked on the polar ozone and aerosol measurement (POAM) geophysical research mission flown on the French SPOT-4 satellite, in addition to the beryllium induced radiation experiment flown on Russian RESURS satellite.

Professor Sands’ other interesting space experiment missions include the polar orbiting geomagnetic survey flown on the defense meteorological satellite program; the remote atmospheric and ionospheric detection system on TIROS-J; and the solar wind interplanetary measurement flown on the NASA WIND satellite. He was the propulsion engineer of the Atlas space launch vehicle, the reliability engineer of the Centaur upper stage, and an electronic warfare engineer and operator, having flown over 600 hours in combat in four countries, being decorated three times for combat gallantry and bravery in addition to other decorations for achievement and meritorious service.

His areas of academic expertise include space mission design; GNC; estimation; adaption and learning; and nonlinear systems; and his minor fields include electrical engineering topics of electronic warfare and automatic controls. His background represents a breadth of leadership experience in space experimentation across academia, the aerospace industry in general, and particularly the defense department. His research has been funded by DARPA, Office of Naval Research (ONR), Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC), and Air Education and Training Command (AETC) and has been awarded one patent in spacecraft guidance, navigation and control (GNC).

Recognized for his teaching and mentorship at the Naval Postgraduate School and Air Force Institute of Technology, Professor Sands remains broadly interested in social sciences disciplines of deterrence, command and control communications, and international relations as well as technical translation, particularly of engineering developments written in Chinese.

More Spotlights