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UCF Program Remains Nation’s No. 1 Aerospace, Defense Workforce Supplier

UCF’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Program was named the nation’s No. 1 workforce supplier to the aerospace and defense industry for the third year in a row, according to a research study by Aviation Week.

“We have students graduating and going to work at some of the top engineering workforces in the country,” said Yoav Peles, chair of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department. “We have students working at Lockheed Martin, Siemens, the Kennedy Space Center, all over the place.”

The UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering program, which began in 1968, has received national praise on several occasions. The program was designated as a “highest research activity” institution by the Carnegie Foundation and one of the “most innovative” universities by U.S. News and World Report, according to a 2018 College of Engineering and Computer Science fact sheet. The program also ranked in the nation’s top 25 for number of U.S. patents secured by the National Academy of Inventors.

Director of the Aerospace Program Seetha Raghavan has watched the program evolve throughout her time at UCF.

“It’s exciting because there has been so much growth since I’ve been here 10 years ago,” Raghavan said. “So I think in the past 50 years we’ve come so far, and we’ve come so far so fast. There’s always something new that’s happening here.”

The program has more than 11,000 students enrolled and has conferred more than 36,000 degrees since fall 2017, according to the fact sheet.

“In the program over the last few years, we have increased in new faculty, young talent and a lot of enthusiasm,” Raghavan said. “While our student numbers grow, our faculty makes sure that we continue to be innovative in the ways we make these students feel more engaged and involved.”

Minh-Chau Le, UCF senior mechanical engineering major, is involved in several organizations with the engineering program. Through the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department and the organizations she’s in, Le said she’s been exposed to diverse, hands-on experience.

A few of Le’s endeavors include a research study in which she developed biomaterials for tissue engineering and cancer research, spending two summers at Harvard University designing implantable medical devices to treat ear infections.

She also participated in the Lockheed Martin College Work Experience, where the global security and aerospace company provides UCF students with a year-long paid opportunity to train in their field while using “cutting edge technology.”

“The engineering program at UCF really emphasizes students getting hands-on experience, whether that be through undergraduate research, internships or student clubs,” Le said. “The most recent opportunity that the UCF engineering program has given me is the chance to pitch my own senior design project.”

While Le’s senior design project has not officially started yet, her proposed pitch is a robotics rehabilitation device for stroke patients regaining their hand mobility.

“At many schools and in many cases, students don’t get to pick what project they get to work on, but at UCF the coordinators work really hard to match everyone with their top three project choices,” Le said. “The program allows students to pitch our own projects that go with our long-term career paths.”

Le said she hopes to one day use the knowledge she’s learned in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Program to start her own company designing affordable medical devices.

Correction: This article incorrectly referred to Seetha Raghavan as the director of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Her correct title is the director of the Aerospace Program. 

Article by Breanna Sorenson. Original article in Nicholson Student Media.

2018-08-30T16:46:20+00:00 August 30th, 2018|Categories: News|

6 UCF Students Awarded Fulbright Scholarships

Six UCF students were awarded 2018-19 Fulbright scholarships to participate in international exchange programs that strengthen international partnerships and address mutual goals for global concerns.

Estefania Bohorquez ’17Linda Rossmann ’17 and Corin Staves ’17 were selected for highly competitive Fulbright research grants to continue their respective studies at foreign universities. Kristine Carlos ’18La Toya Crittenden ’15 ’18MA and Virginia Vasquez ’17 will spend time in host countries teaching English and serving as cultural ambassadors.

Founded in 1946, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards around 1,900 grants each year for students to study in more than 140 countries worldwide. Students from all fields of study can participate in research, international graduate work or teaching English abroad.

Estefania Bohorquez ’17,  and Linda Rossmann ’17 work with MAE Professor, Dr. Seetha Raghavan and will be highlighted below.

Estefania Bohorquez ’17
Major: Civil engineering
Destination: Cologne, Germany

Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Bohorquez conducted undergraduate research at the UCF Aerostructures Lab and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical systems, focusing on engineering mechanics structures. Earlier this year, she was named a recipient of the 20 Twenties Award and visited the German Aerospace Center in Cologne. While in Germany, she plans to continue her engineering studies and cultivate her skills as an aerial acrobat.

Linda Rossmann ’17
Major: Mechanical engineering
Destination: Cologne, Germany

As part of the International Research Experience for Students program at UCF, Rossmann spent 10 weeks in Cologne with the German Aerospace Center. Her project focused on characterizing the properties of alloys used in 3D printing for gas turbine engines. During her time abroad, Rossmann developed a love for the country and a desire to apply for the Fulbright Program. Since graduating, she began a master’s program at UCF in materials science engineering, and this fall, will conduct research and complete her thesis on thermal barrier coatings for gas turbine engines at the University of Cologne and the German Aerospace Center. Rossman hopes that working alongside these world-class researchers will assist in becoming a NASA researcher in the future.

Article by Meredith Harris. Full article posted in UCF Today.

2018-08-01T14:55:58+00:00 August 1st, 2018|Categories: News|

Secrets of Citrus Micro-Jets

Among the many sub-disciplines of physics are quantum mechanics, cosmology and the physics of fruit.

It’s not a field that universities or learned societies recognize, but it fits the investigation of how reservoirs in the skin of citrus fruit burst and shoot out micro-jets of aromatic oil at more than 30 feet per second.

Andrew Dickerson and his colleagues at the University of Central Florida in Orlando investigated the phenomenon purely out of curiosity. Anyone who has handled a lemon or a navel orange may have noticed that when the skin is bent, a little bit of oil comes out in a tiny spritz. These are to be distinguished from the wayward squirts of juice that can hit a dinner companion when you are trying to add a dash of lemon to your sole.

The scientists used high-speed videography to track how the process works and found sacs of oil in the relatively soft part of the skin just below the more rigid outer layer. They used pliers to bend skin of several citrus fruits and found that at a certain point, the stress on the skin causes a break and the oil reservoir empties in a burst.

Micro-jets are found in other plants and in animals as well, such as spitting termites and spiders. Why citrus plants show this action when the skin is bent in an extreme way isn’t known, although the oils are toxic to some insects, plants, and microbes. The micro-jet phenomenon is the reason that bartenders twist an orange or lemon peel to release the flavor, but that is not likely to have played a part in their evolution.

The experiments, reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may be helpful in fields like medicine or commercial printing or even in devising monitors for stress in bridges. For instance, a micro-jet sensor might indicate when too much stress is put on part of a bridge, bursting and spraying a dye.

That’s speculation. Dr. Dickerson said that he had undertaken the investigation because of conversations eight years ago with David Hu of Georgia Tech when Dr. Dickerson was an undergraduate working in Dr. Hu’s lab.

And one of the things he takes away from the findings, after viewing the high-speed videos, is that everyday life is filled with hidden marvels, “ubiquitous examples of natural beauty.”

“How many times have you peeled an orange?” he asked. “How many other things in life pass us by and we don’t appreciate them?”

Article by James Gorman. Originally posted in NYTimes.

2018-07-20T15:53:04+00:00 July 20th, 2018|Categories: News|

SAE Formula and Baja Competition Highlights

The MAE Department would like to highlight the SAE Formula and BAJA team’s performance in their competitions this year.

The Formula team competed at the Michigan International Speedway, making it into the Design finals for the first time in the team’s history and placing ninth. Despite issues with the weather, the Formula team placed twenty-fifth in the Autocross event and finished twelfth for the Cost event. However, due to an electric throttle body failure, the team failed to complete the highest-scored event, the Endurance event, and placed fifty-fourth out of one-hundred twenty as a result.

The BAJA team competed in two competitions: Maryland and Kansas. In Maryland, the BAJA had various successes: Placing in the top five in the Cost Hill Climb, top fifteen in Acceleration and Maneuverability, and a top ten finish in Design, a first in a long time for the BAJA team. Despite failures in the Endurance event, the team finished twenty-first out of ninety-four teams. The BAJA team, also, had success in Kansas placing fourth in Cost, tenth in the Endurance, and top twenty in Design and Sales managing to place ninth out of ninety-five teams.

Congratulations on behalf of the MAE department to the SAE Formula and BAJA team for their performance in their competitions!

2018-05-29T16:24:30+00:00 May 29th, 2018|Categories: News|

Senior Design Showcase for Spring 2018

The Senior Design Spring Showcase concluded on April 19th after two semesters of hard work. Teams of engineering students from various disciplines were challenged for their Capstone project to design, build, and test a project arranged in their Senior Design course.

The Capstone is designed to test all of their fundamental engineering knowledge before shipping them out into the real world. Students were judged and scored on metrics involving design practice, the final product, and ability to communicate their idea to outside parties.

Thank you to Professor Kurt Stresau, Dr. Mark Steiner, and all of the other associated faculty who helped coordinate the event and congratulations to the students for completing such a monumental achievement.

To see a few photos from the event, enjoy our gallery below:

2018-05-09T15:39:40+00:00 May 9th, 2018|Categories: News|

Florida Conference on Recent Advances in Robotics 2018 at University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida’s College of Engineering and Computer Science is hosting the 31st Florida Conference on Recent Advances in Robotics, FCRAR 2018 at the UCF Main Campus.

The Conference will begin at 9:00 AM on Thursday, May 10th, 2018 and end at 1:30 PM on Friday, May 11th, 2018.

Conference Venue:
University of Central Florida
Harris Corporation Engineering Center (HEC)
4000 Central Florida Blvd., Orlando, Fl. 32816-2933

Register for the FCRAR Conference at: Registration

Tentative Conference Schedule:

May 10th
May 11th
8:30: Check-in
9:00: Opening, logistics
9:30: Invited Talk 1
10:30: Networking Break
11:00: Session 1 (P1~6)
12:00: Invited Talk 2
12:30: Working Lunch
13:30: Session 2 (P7~12)
14:30: Invited Talk 3
15:00: Networking Break
15:30: Invited Talk 4
16:00: Session 3 (P13~18)
8:30: Check-in
9:00: Session 4 (P19~24)
10:00: Invited Talk 5
10:30: Invited Talk 6
11:00: KSC Talk and Demo
12:00: Working Lunch / Awards Conference Highlights
Chair: Sang-Eun Song, Ph.D.
Email: S.Song@ucf.edu
Interventional Robotics Lab: http://mae.ucf.edu/
Coordinator: Yaela Marks, Ph.D.
Email: Yaela.Narks@ucf.edu
2018-05-04T14:46:39+00:00 May 4th, 2018|Categories: Events|

Seminar Series: Structural Architectures for Giant Coilable Spacecraft

The UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department continues the Seminar Series by welcoming Dr. Sergio Pellegrino on Friday, April 20th from 1:30-2:30 PM in ENGR II, Room 103. Dr. Pellegrino will present his topic “Structural Architectures for Giant Coilable Spacecraft”.

(Abstract) New kinds of spacecraft, with specifically optimized architectures, may be the best answer to society’s need for cost-efficient space-based infrastructure. Instead of the traditional spacecraft bus, mostly filled with electronic systems, and attached to large deployable appendages that provide power, communication and other functions, alternative structural architectures can provide more efficient, integrated solutions.

In this talk, I will focus on a novel spacecraft architecture, currently under development by the Space Solar Power Project at Caltech, that has the specific purpose of collecting sunlight, converting it into RF power, and radiating it in a narrow beam. This architecture was inspired by kirigami, the extension of Japanese paper-folding that also includes cutting of the paper. Its realization involves thin shell structures that are folded into a tight nested coil. Fundamental research in the mechanics of coiling and uncoiling of thin shells, and the analysis of stress concentrations in coiled thin shell structures with complex geometries will be presented.

Dr. Sergio Pellegrino is Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aeronautics and Civil Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Co-Director of the Space Solar Power Project. He received a Laurea in Civil Engineering from the University of Naples and a Ph.D. in Structural Mechanics from the University of Cambridge. He was on the faculty at the University of Cambridge prior to joining Caltech. Dr. Pellegrino is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of AIAA and a Chartered Structural Engineer. He is currently the President of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures (IASS) and the founding chair of the AIAA Spacecraft Structures Technical Committee. Dr. Pellegrino has authored over 300 technical publications, and received several awards including ICE James Watt Medal, AIAA Gossamer Spacecraft Forum Best Paper Award, IASS Tsuboi Award, ASME/Boeing Best Paper Award, and ASME Mechanisms and Robotics Committee Best Paper Award, Pioneers’ Award from the University of Surrey, and NASA Robert H. Goddard Exceptional Achievement Team Awards. His area of research is the mechanics of lightweight structures, focusing on packaging, deployment, shape control and stability, novel concepts for future space telescopes, spacecraft antennas, and space-based solar power systems.

2018-04-17T13:07:49+00:00 April 17th, 2018|Categories: Seminar Series|

Seminar Series: Mechanical Suppression of Pathological Tremor via External Artificial Muscles

The UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department continues the Seminar Series by welcoming Mr. Chris Kelley on Friday, April 6th from 1:30-2:30 PM in ENGR II, Room 103. Mr. Kelley will present his topic “Mechanical Suppression of Pathological Tremor via External Artificial Muscles”.

(Abstract) Pathological tremor is the involuntary, approximately rhythmic motion of body parts that stems from a nervous system disorder. These involuntary motions decrease the quality of life of those afflicted. Typical treatments such as medications and surgery are not always effective and have inherent risks and side effects. Despite its neurological origin, the ultimate output of tremor is a mechanical motion; therefore, it is possible to mechanically suppress tremor. Mechanical tremor suppression has the potential for perfect cancellation of tremor with minimal risk.

However, two key factors affect the performance and feasibility of mechanical tremor suppression: the device must avoid influence on voluntary motion and be compatible with the human body. To address the latter, this study proposes the use of soft actuators for tremor suppression; specifically, dielectric elastomer stack actuators are an intriguing solution since they have similar mechanical properties as human muscle. This study employs an agonist-antagonist actuator pair to target suppression at a single joint. This work develops two tremor suppression controllers that have tradeoffs among robustness, control effort, and their effect on voluntary motion. Numerical and analytical simulations demonstrate the potential of a dielectric-elastomer-based tremor suppression system. The proposed system offers significant theoretical improvements in user comfort, device profile, and scalability—all factors that currently prohibit the clinical use of mechanical tremor suppression.

Mr. Chris Kelley is a Doctoral Candidate at UCF working in the Structural Dynamics and Adaptive Structures Lab. Chris received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 2013 and his MS in Mechanical Engineering from UCF in 2016. He has worked on several research projects at UCF, including piezoelectric-based vibration reduction and modeling of composite laminate plates with embedded piezoelectric material. Chris’ interest in the movement of the human body coupled with his background in smart materials research led to his doctoral research project: mechanical tremor suppression using soft actuators. So far, his work has produced four conference presentations and three journal publications. Overall, Chris’ research interests include biomechanics, controls, and dynamics.

2018-04-02T16:36:57+00:00 April 2nd, 2018|Categories: Seminar Series|

Seminar Series: Challenges and Opportunities of Quality Improvement in Big Data Environment

The UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department continues the Seminar Series by welcoming Dr. Jianjun Shi on Friday, March 23rd from 1:30-2:30 PM in the Barbara Ying Center. Dr. Shi will present his topic “Challenges and Opportunities of Quality Improvement in Big Data Environment”.

(Abstract) The rapid advances in cyber-infrastructure ranging from data enabled design and manufacturing, sensor technology, and communication networks to high-powered computing have resulted in temporally and spatially data-rich environments. This big data era brings significant challenges and great opportunities for quality improvements in advanced manufacturing systems. With massive data readily available, there is a pressing need to develop new methodologies and associated tools for quality improvement that will enable and assist (i) the development of unified data fusion models with multiple sources and stages of a contemporary complex engineering systems, (ii) the extraction of pertinent knowledge about the design and operations of these systems, and (iii) the exploitation of the acquired knowledge for data-enabled optimal design, analysis, and control.

This presentation will discuss research opportunities, challenges, and advancements in data fusion for quality improvement in an advanced manufacturing system. Examples of on-going funded research projects, including airplane fuselage assembly, nanomanufacturing scale-up, high dimensional streaming data, causation modeling and root cause diagnosis in manufacturing, will be used to illustrate the frontiers of data fusion research areas. All project examples are coming from real industrial production systems with the real data acquisition/analysis, new methodological R&D motivated by real engineering problems, and validation/implementation in real production systems. The presentation will discuss the motivation of the R&D efforts, research challenges, new methodology development, validation/implementation, and potential impacts. Some discussions will be also be given on how to develop such research opportunities and funded research projects via collaborative efforts of academia, industry, and government.

Dr. Jianjun Shi is the Carolyn J. Stewart Chair and Professor in H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, with a joint appointment in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Georgia Tech in 2008, he was the G. Lawton and Louise G. Johnson Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan. He received his B.S. and M.S. in Automation from the Beijing Institute of Technology in 1984 and 1987, and his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1992.

2018-03-21T13:12:20+00:00 March 21st, 2018|Categories: Seminar Series|

Seminar Series: Routine Hypersonic Flight: The Final Frontier of Aeronautics

The UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department continues the Seminar Series by welcoming Dr. Kevin G. Bowcutt on Tuesday, March 20th from 9:30-10:30 AM in HEC, Room 101. Dr. Bowcutt will present his topic “Routine Hypersonic Flight: The Final Frontier of Aeronautics”.

(Abstract) Efforts to develop technologies enabling hypersonic flight have been ongoing since the late 1940’s. During this time substantial advancements have been made in hypersonic propulsion systems such as scramjets, high-temperature structural materials and thermal protection systems, and advanced vehicle design methods and tools. Taken together, these advancing technologies are moving mankind ever closer to achieving routine hypersonic flight, which will enable dramatically faster military missions and global transportation, and substantially more affordable space transportation.

This presentation will address the key technical aspects and challenges of hypersonic vehicle design and will summarize progress made in maturing technologies critical to the development of practical hypersonic systems. The successful X-51A flight test program will be highlighted. The presentation will conclude by describing a vision for hypersonics.

Dr. Kevin G. Bowcutt is a Boeing Senior Technical Fellow and Chief Scientist of Hypersonics for The Boeing Company, with 35 years of experience. He is an AIAA Fellow, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He holds BS, MS and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. Dr. Bowcutt is an internationally recognized expert in hypersonic aerodynamics, propulsion integration, and vehicle design and optimization. Notable accomplishments include developing the viscous-optimized waverider, originating the concept and optimizing the design of the X-51A scramjet-powered vehicle, working on the Space Shuttle Columbia accident investigation simulating wing aero-thermal-structural failure, designing the HIFiRE 4 flight test vehicle, and giving a TEDx talk on hypersonics. Dr. Bowcutt leads Boeing’s efforts to design advanced hypersonic missiles, airplanes, and space-plane concepts.

2018-03-21T14:05:08+00:00 March 16th, 2018|Categories: Seminar Series|