Theodor von Kármán’s research contributed significantly to improvements in aerodynamics in aviation. He collaborated with the aerodynamics expert Ludwig Prandtl and from 1908 also began to publish his research results on the Kármán vortex street named after him.
In 1912 he was appointed director of the Aerodynamic Institute at the Technical University in Aachen. In this capacity, Kármán provided important impetus to boundary layer theory as well as to the theory of airfoil profiles. He also wrote papers on the theory of airscrews and on the calculation of pressure distribution on airship bodies. He also advanced the development of helicopters.
In 1926, he received an invitation to Pasadena from Nobel Prize winner Robert A. Millikan to help establish an aerodynamics institute at the California Institute of Technology. In 1929, he became director of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory.