Skip to main content

Brandon Sells

Title: AST, Aerospace Vehicle Design and Mission Analysis

Technical Focus Area: Aeronautics Transportation System Analysis and Decision Support Analysis

Missions/Projects: Air Mobility Pathfinders (ISAT), Regional Air Mobility (ISAT), Aviation Sustainability (ISAT)

Study Topics/Expertise: Advanced Air Mobility, System Analysis, Aircraft Conceptual Design, Multidisciplinary Design Optimization, Decision Support and Tool Development, Transportation Systems Modeling

Brandon Sells joined NASA in 2023 as an aerospace engineer working in the Aeronautics Systems Analysis Branch (ASAB). Brandon contributes to on-going efforts to (re)define aeronautics technologies, evolutionary concepts, concepts of operations, and transportation paradigms with the Intercenter Systems Analysis Team (ISAT).

Brandon’s interest in aviation began with the fascination of something heavier than air that could fly gracefully through the skies. His passion grew from a young age on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and was evident throughout his academic and professional experiences.

While at North Carolina A&T and Purdue, Brandon centered his aeronautics research around developing system models, analyses, and decision-support tools to advance aviation and improve transportation for all communities. Throughout his academic career, Brandon spent time working on rocket and risk analysis at NASA Wallops Flight Facility; software/hardware integration and testing for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity Rover at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; and supporting 747/767/777x programs at Boeing as a design engineer.

Prior to joining NASA, Brandon worked in the Aerospace Systems Design, Analysis, and Optimization Laboratory at Purdue University to analyze and develop future aeronautics transportation systems with a system-of-systems framework and a community-forward perspective. The research efforts provided experiences with system analysis and modeling through joint projects with the FAA and NASA.

Outside of NASA, Brandon holds membership in both the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA); an aspiring private pilot; and enjoys mentoring aspiring engineers, technologists, and creatives.

Education/Professional Experience

  • B.S. in Mechanical Engineering -Aerospace Concentration (Summa Cum Laude), North Carolina A&T State University, 2015
  • M.S. in Aeronautics & Astronautics, Purdue University, 2018
  • Ph.D. in Aeronautics & Astronautics, Purdue University, 2023

Professional Experience

  • Aerospace Engineer, AST-Aerospace Vehicle Design and Mission Analysis, NASA Langley Research Center, SACD/Aeronautics Systems Analysis Branch, 2023-Present
  • Aerospace Systems Research Engineer/Analyst, Aerospace Systems Design Analysis and Optimization Laboratory, Purdue University, 2018-2023
  • General Aviation Research Scientist, Aerospace Systems Design Analysis and Optimization Laboratory, Purdue University 2016-2018
  • Structural Design Engineer Trainee, BCA 747/767/777x Programs, The Boeing Company, 2014-2015
  • Integration and Test Student Engineer, Mars Science Laboratory Mission, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 2013
  • Flight Safety Student Engineer, RockSat-X Project, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, 2012


  • Ph. D Dissertation: An Exploration and Demonstration of System Modeling for Profitable Urban Air Mobility Operations using Simulation and Optimization
  • M.S. Thesis: A Multi-objective Design Optimization Approach for sUAS Fleet Design and Allocation in Meteorological Sampling Operations

Journal Papers

  • Sells, Brandon E., and William A. Crossley. “Optimization and Decision-Making Framework for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Fleet Design.” Journal of Aircraft (2023): 1-14.

Technical Report Contributions

  • Briceno, S. I., Crossley, W. A., Chakraborty, A., Gao, Z., Lin, P., Sells, B. (2018). General Aviation 2030: GA Exploratory Analysis. Report Number: DOT/FAA/TC-18/46.
  • Briceno, S. I., Crossley, W. A., Harrison, E. D., Chakraborty, A., Bendarkar, M. Sells, B., Stickney, J., Gao, Z., Lin, P., (2020). Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety, Accessibility, and Sustainability/ Project 25: General Aviation 2030-GA Exploratory Analysis. Report Number: DOT/FAA/TC-21/14.

Conference Papers

  • Sells, B. E. & Crossley, W. A. (2022). Exploring Vehicle and Fleet Design Spaces for Profitable Urban Air Mobility Operations. In AIAA AVIATION 2022 Forum (p. 3486).  
  • Sells, B. E. & Crossley, W. A. (2022). Modeling Review and Recommendations for Ubiquitous Urban Air Mobility Operations. In AIAA AVIATION 2022 Forum (p. 3793).  
  • Gao, Z., Lin, P. N., Chakraborty, A., Sells, B. E., Briceno, S. I., Crossley, W. A., & Mavris, D. N. (2018). Challenges and Opportunities: A Strategic General Aviation Exploratory Analysis for 2030. In 2018 AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting (p.2009).  
  • Sells, B. E., & Baldwin, P. R. (2021). Small UAS Design Toolkit: Characterization and Development using Optimization and Advanced Manufacturing Modeling. In AIAA SciTech 2021 Forum (p. 0625). (Awarded Best Paper). Awarded 2021 AIAA SciTech Design Engineering Best Paper*
  • Sells, B. E. & Baldwin, P. R. (2022). Small UAS Design Toolkit: Analyses Integration and Development using Optimization and Advanced Manufacturing Modeling. In AIAA SciTech 2022 Forum (p. 0926).  
  • Maheshwari, A., Mudumba, S., Sells, B. E., DeLaurentis, D. A., & Crossley, W. A. (2020). Identifying and Analyzing Operations Limits for Passenger-Carrying Urban Air Mobility Missions. In AIAA AVIATION 2020 Forum (p. 2913).  
  • Howard, R. J., Wright, E., Mudumba, S. V., Gunady, N. I., Sells, B. E., & Maheshwari, A. (2021). Assessing the Suitability of Urban Air Mobility Vehicles for a Specific Aerodrome Network. In AIAA AVIATION 2021 Forum (p. 3208).  
  • Gunady, N., Wright, E., Mudumba, S., Sells, B. E., Chao, H., & DeLaurentis, D. A. (2022). Evaluating Demand of Emerging Urban Air Mobility Vehicles with Changing Cost. In AIAA SciTech 2022 Forum (p. 1517).  
  • Sells, B. E., Maheshwari, A., Chao, H., Wright, E., Crossley, W., & Sun, D. (2021). Evaluating the Impact of Urban Air Mobility Aerodrome Siting on Mode Choice. In AIAA AVIATION 2021 Forum (p. 2371).
  • Maheshwari, A., Sells, B. E., Harrington, S., DeLaurentis, D., & Crossley, W. (2021). Evaluating Impact of Operational Limits by Estimating Potential UAM Trips in an Urban Area. In AIAA Aviation 2021 Forum (p. 3174).  
  • Sells, B. E., Gunady, N. I., Iyengar, K., Wright, C. E. (2023) A Comparative Study of Operational Limits for Urban and Regional Passenger-Carrying Missions across Metropolitans. In AIAA Aviation 2023 Forum (p. 3410).
  • Ray, K., Cappuccilli, B., Hunter, J., Eichenauer, M., Sells, B. E., & Reid, T. (2022). Ethical Human Centered Design: Practical Approaches for Aerospace Engineering Education. In AIAA AVIATION 2022 Forum (p. 3711).

Related Websites

Brandon Sells on LinkedIn


Enjoys traveling, snowboarding, sandy beaches, and supporting the Philadelphia Eagles – Go Birds!