Leonard Daniel

Leonard Daniel

Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Provost of the College of Engineering and Technology, Kwara State University, Nigeria

Visiting Professor 2008-2009

Hosted by the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Leonard Daniel is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Provost of the College of Engineering and Technology at Kwara State University in Nigeria.


“In my childhood, I always dreamed of becoming an astronaut. This was amplified by my attraction to the beauty of mathematical equations and of the scientific principles that govern flight...I am attracted to [the] academic freedom to invent and innovate.”

LEO DANIEL - Prof. of Aerospace Engineering / Provost College of Engineering and Technology, Kwara State University


Leonard Daniel is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Provost of the College of Engineering and Technology at Kwara State University in Nigeria. His research focus is: RLV design and systems integration, composite materials, impact and damage tolerance, ballistic and blast protection, structural dynamics, structural health monitoring, design of integrated structures, smart structures and active materials (intelligent structures, nanomaterials, and bio-inspired structures).

He earned an MSc in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in 1990 from the Soviet Academy of Science and a PhD in Aerospace Engineering in 2000 from University of London, Queen Mary and Imperial College. Honors: Fellow of UK Royal Aeronautical Society; Fellow of Institute of Materials of Materials, UK; Associate Fellow: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and European Professional Engineer (Eur. Ing.): FEANI, Europe

Prof. Daniel was a visiting professor at the University of California-Berkeley before being appointed MLK Visiting Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, where he taught a course on bio-inspired structures.


Course: Bio-Inspired Structures (16.982)

This course is offered for graduate students who are interested in the interdisciplinary study of bio-inspired structures. The intent is to introduce students to newly inspired modern advanced structures and their applications. It aims to link traditional advanced composites to bio-inspired structures and to discuss their generic properties. A link between materials design, strength and structural behavior at different levels (material, element, structural and system levels) is made. For each level, various concepts will be introduced. The importance of structural, dynamic, thermodynamic and kinetic theories related to such processing is highlighted. The pedagogy is based on active learning and a balance of guest lectures and hands-on activities.


When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
In my childhood, I have always dream of becoming an Astronaut. This was amplified by my attraction to beauty of mathematical equations and scientific principles that govern flights in my early days in high school.
Who or what inspired you to become a scientist? 
My mother was my first inspiration and Star Trek film episodes with amazing spaceship become my second inspiration
What do you love about your job and being a “scientist”? 
I am attracted to academic freedom to invent and innovate. I like pedagogy and mentoring students to think innovatively

What qualifications did you take at school? 
GCE “O” and “A” level in science and mathematics
Why did you choose your first degree subject? 
My first degree was a combined BSc and MSc in Aerospace Engineering Materials. I choose this subject because of my love for mathematical equations and science principles

How do you describe your job when you meet people at a party? 
I describe my job as an instructor and a professor of aeronautics and astronautics.
What is ‘cutting-edge’ about your work? 
The ‘cutting-edge’ about my work is the Intelligent Micro Aerial Vehicles (IMAV), where nano materials and bio-inspired structures are used for smart sensing for combat operations
What are the biggest implications your work will/could have in the future? 
With an eye towards homeland defense needs and space exploration, the growing use of smart and intelligent structures has arisen from their ability to sense very small changes in their environment. This allows them to detect and track prey, to form hydrodynamic images of the environment, and the ability to shape and tailor their structure to produce more aerodynamically efficient structural configurations. This is too scientific, isn’t it? In simple terms the biggest implication will be the ability to trace and track down the bad guys combat operations
Describe some of the highlights of your average day. 
Teaching, research and mentoring student at all levels
Describe briefly how your career has progressed to date. 
My career has progressed steadily thus far: named Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT in 2008. I earned B.S/M.Sc. with Highest Honors in Mechanical Engineering from Soviet Academy of Science, Donetsk State Technical University in 1990 and Ph.D. from Queen Mary, University of London in 2000. After working as a Research Scientist at French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), European Space Agency (ESA), and a short period at Cranfield University from 2000 to 2004, I joined the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the University of California as a Visiting Professor in 2005 through the University of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. I taught and held several administrative positions at the said universities, making seminal contributions to aerospace composites, structural dynamics, RLV design, nanomaterials, bio-inspired and intelligent structures with applications to morphing aircraft, intelligent unmanned area vehicle (IUAV). I am currently serving as a member of AIAA Academic Affairs Committee, Materials Technical Committee, Space Transportation Technical Committee and International Aeronautical Forum (IAF) Space Transportation Committee. I am elected Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the Institute of Materials, and Associate Fellow of the American Institute Aeronautics and Astronautics
How is your job cross-disciplinary? 
My work is interdisciplinary in nature, particularly Bio-Inspired Structures, which span across all disciplines (aeronautics, mechanical, materials, and biological and chemical engineering departments)
How well is your job compensated? What is the starting salary for your field, and how much can this be expected to rise? 
Engineering professors are generally compensated well. Salary can fluctuates based on location and type of institutions. According to US department of labor, the average starting salary for professor of aerospace engineering is approximately $90K
How do you see your field developing over the next 5-10 years? 
There will exponential increase in the use of composites materials in commercial aircraft, cars and electronic devices with multifunctional capabilities
What’s the most unexpected thing about your job? 
Unexpected thing about my job is exiting discovery in research findings.
What’s the biggest achievement of your career so far? 
The biggest achievement of my career is to be named MIT Martin Luther King Jr Visiting Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, in recognition of my achievements in aeronautic engineering, engineering education, management, and advancing academic cultural diversity. Another achievement is my election to a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Institute of Materials, and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Would you say you have a good standard of living/ work-life balance? 
I will realistically say yes minus the recent economic downturn
What do your friends and family think about your job? 
Funny, interesting, creative and innovative
What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax? 
Soccer, tennis and reading

Why did you choose to apply for CSci and what do you value most about being a Chartered Scientist? 
For professional development
What is the value of professional bodies? 
Networking, sharing ideas, collaborating and attending professional meetings and workshops
How important is CPD? What do you think of the revalidation process in ensuring that CSci is a mark of current competence? 
Good for us who is sometime not having time to review of professional activities.

Advice & Reflection
What words of wisdom would you give someone interested in getting into your field? 
Take science disciplines and mathematics is fundamental to a aeronautics and astronautics engineering if you want to be successful
How important is the mentoring process in your field and to you personally? 
Crucially significant for professional development
How would you define “professionalism”? 
In academic business, professionalism means academic excellent, integrity and honesty
What would you do differently if you were starting out in your career now? 
Do thing differently? I will definitely want to match Isaac Newton or Albert Einstain achievement in physics
What would you like people to remember about your life as a scientist? 
Remember me for my achievements in aeronautic engineering, engineering education, management, advancing academic cultural diversity and minority education in engineering