Robert A. (Bob) A. Canfield

Professor and Assistant Department Head for Academic Affairs

  • Ph.D., Virginia Tech, Engineering Mechanics, 1992
  • M.S., Stanford University, Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1984
  • B.S.E., Duke University, Mechanical Engineering, summa cum laude, 1983
Structures and Materials, Aircraft Design
  • American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Associate Fellow
  • AIAA Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) Award for Technical Excellence 2014
  • AIAA Best Paper, Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization Conference 2008
  • AIAA Sustained Service Award, 2007
  • Dr. Leslie M. Norton Award for Excellence in Teaching (AFIT Student Association) 2005
  • Gage H. Crocker Outstanding Professor Award (AFIT Board of Visitors) 2004
  • Outstanding Engineers and Scientists Award, Education Category, Affiliates Society Council of the Engineering and Science Foundation of Dayton, 2004
  • AIAA Graduate Team Aircraft Design Competition Third Place for Morphing Navy Uninhabited Combat Aerial Vehicle (Advisor to AFIT Design Team) 2004–2005
  • AIAA Distinguished Service Award, 2003–2005
  • Meritorious Service Medal, U.S. Air Force, Sept. 2004
  • Technical Director, Virginia Tech Airworthiness Center (VTAC)
  • Co-Chair, NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO), Air Vehicle Technology (AVT) Panel, STO-AVT Workshop, “AVT-209: Energy Efficient Configurations and Concepts of Operation,” Instituto Superior Tecnico, Lisbon, Portugal, 26–28 October 2012
  • General Chair, AIAA/ISSMO Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization Conference, Victoria, BC, Sept 10–12, 2008
  • Chair, AIAA Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Technical Committee, 2003–2005
  • Technical Chair, AIAA/USAF/NASA/ISSMO Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization Conference, St. Louis, MO, 1998
  • 2009–present VT, Professor & Assistant Dept. Head for Academic Affairs
  • 2011–2012 VT, Interim Department Head
  • 2000–2008 AFIT (Associate/Full) Professor of Aerospace Engineering
  • 2002–2004 AFIT Deputy Head, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • 1999–2000 AFOSR Program Manager, Computational Mathematics
  • 1998–1999 AFOSR Director of Policy and Integration
  • 1997–1997 SAF/AQR Manager, Planning and Resources
  • 1996–1998 AFOSR Chief, Plans and Budget
  • 1993–1996 AFIT Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering
  • 1990–1992 Ph.D. student, Virginia Tech
  • 1984–1989 Air Force Wright Laboratory, Aerospace Engineer
  • 1983–1984 NASA Ames Army Aeromechanics Laboratory, Mechanical Engineer

Virginia Tech Airworthiness Center (VTAC)

VT views NAVAIR F-35 at Pax River, MD
Roger Burnett, Christy Cochrane, Bob Canfield, Craig Woolsey, Chris Tysor, Jon Greene, and Eric Paterson at NAVAIR F-35 hangar, Pax River, Maryland

VTAC Technical Director

Virginia Tech has established an Airworthiness Center as a long-term collaborative partnership with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and its Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD). The capabilities of Virginia Tech will augment those of NAVAIR by supporting NAVAIR in the conduct of select airworthiness studies, by developing new tools for airworthiness assessment, and by researching new approaches to streamline the airworthiness process. As Technical Director, Dr. Canfield oversees the airworthiness research tasks. 

Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO)

Research funded by AFOSR and the AFRL Collaborative Center for Multidisciplinary Sciences (CCMS) investigates sensitivity analysis and surrogate models for MDO. The research group developed continuum sensitivity analysis (CSA) using spatial gradient reconstruction (SGR) for fluid-structure interaction (FSI). CSA is being developed for shape variations in vehicle structures subject to aerodynamic loads. CSA with SGR is being devised to avoid computation of the mesh sensitivity ordinarily needed to differentiate discretized FSI systems with respect to shape variables. The sensitivity analysis is motivated by the need to analyze nonlinear steady-state and transient gust response for novel vehicle concepts ranging from Micro Air Vehicles (MAV's) to high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) vehicles.

HALE Joined-Wing Sensorcraft (JWSC)

AFRL funded research of a high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) joined-wing Sensorcraft (JWSC) for future Air Force intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. Prior research explored optimal configurations to maximize endurance and radar coverage, while minimizing weight and cost. Efficient analysis methods were developed to accurately predict large, nonlinear aeroelastic response to transient gust loads. A flight test of the 5-meter span, JWSC remotely piloted vehicle (RPV) prototype validated air worthiness to later experimentally demonstrate nonlinear aeroelastic response such as aft wing buckling.

JWSC VT Team at Foremost
Virginia Tech Team at Foremost Air Base, Canada, for JWSC ground test (Craig Woolsey, Tyler Aarons, Jeff Garnand-Royo, Bob Canfield, August 2011)

Slotted Waveguide Antenna Stiffened Structure (SWASS)

AFRL Aerospace Systems Directorate funded research to develop MDO methods for the design of conformal load bearing antenna structure (CLAS) whereby radar arrays may be embedded in aircraft skin. For example, slotted waveguide antennas may be used as stringers, skin stiffeners, or the core of a sandwich skin panels in multifunctional structures. We studied four novel Slotted Waveguide Antenna Stiffened Structure (SWASS) concepts and determined the most structurally efficient one.

Slotted Waveguide Antenna-Stiffened Structures
Slotted Waveguide Antenna-Stiffened Structure

Reliability-Based Design Optimization (RBDO)

Sensitivity analysis is instrumental for uncertainty quantification (UQ), gradient-enhanced surrogate models, and metrics for design robustness. Research is proposed in which CSA is used to develop a framework for mission-driven design in which variable fidelity models are selected adaptively for uncertainty quantified MDO.

Reliability-Based Design Optimization
Reliability-Based Structural Design, by Choi, Grandhi & Canfield

Dr. Robert Canfield - Professor & Assistant Department Head for Academic Affairs

Dr. Bob Canfield
  • (540) 231-5981
  • Randolph Hall, Rm. 214
    460 Old Turner St. (MC 0203)
    Blacksburg, VA