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MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

New Trends in Aerospace seminar series

New Trends in Aerospace is a forum for engineers from industry, academia, and government to present cutting-edge developments in aerospace engineering research. Sponsored by the MIT Aeronautics and Astronautics Department, the series features experienced practitioners as well as recent graduates. For more information on the series and any of the presentations, email Jean Sofronas


All presentations are from 4pm until 5pm in room 33-116. Details for each presentation will be announced when available.


February 20 — Dilip Prasad, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne: The Use of Modeling in Solving Engineering Problems in Industry: One Size Does Not Fit All

The resolution of industrial problems necessitates the use of models of different levels of fidelity, depending on the specific issues that are being addressed. Thus, early stages of product design typically require low-order models, whereas the need to address failures or other field problems often entails the use of high-fidelity methods. In this presentation, examples of physics-based models spanning a range of fidelity are described in the context of problems that arise in the aerospace and building systems industries. Dr. Dilip Prasad leads the Turbomachinery & Computational Analysis Group at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, which is responsible for turbopump performance and for the advanced analysis tools used in the development of the company's rocket products. In addition, he leads DOE-sponsored research at Rocketdyne on supercritical CO2-based power generation, including a recent ARPA-E award for a regeneratively cooled high-temperature turbine. Dr. Prasad obtained his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology at Madras, and his master's and doctoral degrees at MIT in the same field. Following a post-doctoral fellowship at Los Alamos, he joined United Technologies Corporation, where he has worked since 1997, first at the Research Center, and then at the Pratt & Whitney and Rocketdyne divisions.


March 6 — Richard Vaia, Air Force Research Laboratory: Materials and Future Aerospace Technologies: Challenges and Opportunities

What are the next crucial material and processing innovations that will transform aerospace science fiction to science fact over the next decade? For example, how can the use of computational tools and techniques accelerate materials development, reduce qualification cost, and provide flexible, in silico optimization of materials design, performance and fabrication beyond that of a static material data sheet? How can we integrate this tailorability into agile manufacturing and design methods to further optimize the performance, cost and durability of future resilient aerospace systems? What are the possibilities at the intersection of nano-based metamaterials, smart surfaces and nanostructured devices with biology and biotechnology to enable autonomous systems that can achieve complex tasks in complex environments, and enhanced human-machine interfaces to ensure increased effectiveness and productivity of our human resources? These opportunities and associated challenges point toward future successes being based on highly effective, mutual communication and partnership between scientific innovation, manufacturing, and design. Richard A. Vaia is the Technology Director of the Functional Materials Division in Materials and Manufacturing Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. His research group focuses on polymer nanocomposites, complex nanoparticle architectures and their impact on developing adaptive soft matter. He received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University in 1995. 


March 20 — James Cutler, University of Michigan: Is the Sky Falling?

We have heard it said, “the sky is falling," as many lament the death of innovation and the loss of an aging workforce in the aerospace field. The retirement of the shuttle and the NPOES cancellation are sobering examples. However, the recent successes of missions like the Mars Science Laboratory, the launch of commercial ISS resupply vehicles, and the rise of nanosatellite successes indicate the opposite may be true: there is a new space generation that is attempting and succeeding at novel missions never before tried. In this renewed effort, universities are a leading force. At the University of Michigan, we have developed both NSF and JPL’s first nanosatellite missions for space weather research and technology demonstrations, respectively. We have harnessed a global ground station network with sites owned by independent operators. We have also performed novel research on attitude estimation and global ground station scheduling. And yet even with these successes, the sky is still falling, literally. The recent spectacular meteor over the Russian sky and Meteor Crater in Arizona are testaments that our planet has very little protection from near Earth objects. We hypothesize that the innovation we see in nanosatellites can be extended to enable planetary-scale protection. We are working with JPL to develop the first interplanetary nanosatellite mission and have been selected by NASA for launch. Community advancements in survivability, communication, navigation and propulsion are enabling solar system-scale mobility and we are opening doors for advance missions in heliophysics, planetary science, and potentially planetary protection.


April 3 — Vigor Yang, Georgia Institute of Technology: Combustion Dynamics in Propulsion Systems

Unsteady flow oscillations in combustion devices, commonly known as combustion instabilities, were discovered in rocket and air-breathing engines at about the same time in the late 1930s. Since then, combustion instabilities have plagued most, or in fact practically all, engine development programs. Indeed, because of the high density of energy release in a volume having relatively low losses, conditions favor excitation and sustenance of flow oscillations in any combustion chamber intended for use in a propulsion system. This lecture will provide an overview of combustion instabilities in four different types of propulsion systems (solid rocket, liquid rocket, gas turbine, and ramjet/scramjet engines). Emphasis will be placed on the present understanding of the processes involved, and research needs and challenges. Various research issues in acoustics, fluid mechanics, and chemistry related to oscillatory combustion in practical systems will be discussed. Both passive and active control techniques will be covered. Applications of contemporary numerical schemes, approximate analytical methods, and experimental diagnostic tools to combustion instability studies will be addressed. Vigor Yang is the William R. T. Oakes Professor and Chair of the School of Aerospace Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is the author or co-author of more than 350 technical papers in the areas of propulsion and combustion, and has published 10 comprehensive volumes on aerospace propulsion. Dr. Yang is a Fellow of the AIAA, ASME, and Royal Aeronautic Society. He is also a Vice President of the AIAA.


April 17 — Budimir Rosic, St Anne's College, Oxford: Components Integration for Further Improvements in Gas Turbine Hot-End Performance

Continuous strive for higher efficiencies and lower emissions generates new challenges for the gas turbine hot-end designers. The turbine inlet temperature is still increasing. There are new advances in combustion technology (especially in lean-premixed combustors). To meet these challenges new approaches in the development of hot-end are needed. The talk will present state of art and future trends in experimental and computational research in gas turbine hot-end aerodynamics, heat transfer management and cooling techniques for both land based and aircraft propulsion applications. Advances in experimental and computational tools allow traditionally separate component based design approach to be replaced by a new integrated approach in the design of the gas turbine hot-end. Potentials of the new approach in improving the overall gas turbine performance will be illustrated through an example of can-combustor and turbine integration. Budimir Rosic is a University Lecturer at Oxford University and a Tutorial Fellow at St. Anne's College in Oxford. He is also a member of the Osney Thermofluids Laboratory. Before joining Oxford University in 2009, Budimir spent nine years in Cambridge where he received his doctorate degree at the Whittle Laboratory 2005, and worked afterwards as a Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer. Budimir was also educated in Belgrade and ETH in Zurich. His research varies from modelling of thermofluid processes in different power generation systems, experimental and computational turbomachinery aerodynamics, to heat transfer and cooling in gas turbines for ultra-high inlet temperatures. His group is also working on development of instrumentation for measurements in real engine conditions. He has been working in a close collaboration with major power generation and turbomachinery manufacturing companies.


May 1 — Peretz Friedmann, University of Michigan: On-blade Control of Vibration and Noise in Rotorcraft - Aeroelastic Simulation and Tests

A description of an aeroelastic response code capable of simulating helicopter vibration and noise at low and high advance ratios is provided. Vibration and noise reduction is accomplished by closed loop on blade control implemented by partial span trailing edge flaps or microflaps using a modification of the higher harmonic control (HHC) algorithm widely used for rotorcraft.. An important ingredient of the simulation is an unsteady aerodynamic model that provides the loading on flaps or microflaps oscillating at high frequency using a rational function approximation (RFA) combined with CFD. This model reproduces the unsteady CFD loading at a fraction of the cost. Application of the code to vibration and noise reduction in helicopters, including actuator saturation will be also illustrated. Full scale tests of on blade control will be also concisely summarized. Peretz P. Friedmann is François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Aerospace Engineering in the Aerospace Engineering Department of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aeronautical Engineering from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and his Sc.D. (1972) in Aeronautics and Astronautics from M.I.T. He has been with the University of Michigan since January 1999. Between 1972 and 1998 he was a Professor in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department of the University of California, Los Angeles. Dr. Friedmann has been engaged in research on rotary-wing and fixed wing aeroelasticity, active control of vibrations, hypersonic aeroelasticity and aerothermoelasticity, structural dynamics and structural optimization with aeroelastic constraints and he has published extensively.

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