News and Events

/News and Events/

Doug Guidish – Founder of Guard Dog Valves – Talks UCF Senior Design on Lend Me Your Engineers Episode 10

On the season finale of Lend Me Your Engineers, Kamryn explains why Hobbits don’t wear shoes. Also, Doug Guidish, the founder of Guard Dog Valves, joins the podcast to talk about working with UCF Seniors through the Engineering Design Program (21:00). Plus, audio from the first annual UCF MAE Grad Bash (32:00)!

Contact us at LendMeYourEngineers@ucf.edu.

Right click to download audio file.

Subscribe on iTunes and never miss an episode. While you’re there, please rate our show and leave a comment!

2017-12-07T11:15:18+00:00 December 7th, 2017|Categories: Podcasts|

Going Global: UCF Engineers Shine Conducting Research Abroad

If your idea of an engineering student is a rainbow-haired former fine arts major who traveled to Cologne, Germany for a ten-week science fellowship at the German Aerospace Center as well as a stint at Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago and, oh, yes, is a woman, then you might be familiar with Seetha Raghavan’s lab.

Raghavan, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida, is passionate about creating a world-class research environment for students – one that spans the globe, while ensuring that engineering appeals to all types of students. The rich experience also creates better rounded engineers, which gives them an edge when looking for jobs after college.

“It is really important to me that students get varied experiences that will enable them to communicate globally as an engineer,” Raghavan said.

That begins with attracting students who might not traditionally be exposed to engineering as a career choice and extends to leveraging high-quality research collaborations around the world.

Guided by UCF’s five goals that include providing international focus to research and curricula and achieving international prominence, Raghavan’s personal story sheds light on her philosophy.

As an undergraduate, she earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and then pursued a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering at ISAE SUPAERO in France. Following seven years working as a senior engineer in Singapore, she traveled again, this time to Purdue University in the U.S. for her doctoral studies.

Having worked or studied on three continents, she is determined that her students will have similar opportunities. “Every place helps you grow in a different way,” she said. “International experiences are an important way of building your capability as a student and as a researcher.”

While at UCF, Raghavan initiated a collaboration with researchers from DLR or German Aerospace Center in Cologne seven years ago. This encouraged DLR researchers to travel to the U.S. to work with Raghavan and her students on joint experiments at Argonne and led to 2012 National Science Foundation funding for catalyzing new International collaborations that supported two UCF students to spend a summer at DLR’s facility in Cologne.

Raghavan received further funding from the National Science Foundation, in 2015, to establish an International Research Experiences for student program that would support four students a year for three years to study with the scientists in Germany.

Since that time two teams of eight students have taken part in the summer experience and more UCF faculty have started to form collaborations with DLR researchers; applications just closed for the 2018 visit.

The students spend the spring semester preparing their research projects and holding biweekly Skype sessions with their German mentors so they are prepared to hit the ground running once they arrive in summer. They write a blog on their experiences and organize outreach activities on international research for high-schoolers.

Lin Rossmann, the former artist who originally had her heart set on being a fashion photographer, was directionless after completing her art degree until she visited NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. There, a student engineering competition inspired her to channel her love for space development into an engineering career.

“It’s silly to think that engineering is not creative – engineering is all about innovation and problem solving,” she said.

Rossmann returned to school for a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Her international research experience and collaboration was instrumental in her decision to continue on for her master’s degree in materials science and she has since received a NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium Masters Fellowship. She hopes to return to Germany for a year or two to focus on her research.

Brooke Sarley, a senior in mechanical engineering, received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship provided by the Office of Undergraduate Research to participate in experiments that were going to be conducted at the Argonne laboratory. She was so captivated by the process of creating super alloys through additive manufacturing that she applied for the international research fellowship and traveled to do research in Germany the next summer.

She said her time in Germany helped her appreciate the freedom to focus exclusively on research without distraction. Being fully prepared before her fellowship helped with the intimidation factor, she said.

Estefania Bohorquez, a senior in civil engineering, said she loves structural engineering and all of its applications. Her motivation for research abroad began with her interest in studying preservation of historic structures such as cathedrals and coliseums.

“There is a global effort to preserve these structures and a lot of this is outside the U.S.” she said.

Before her fellowship in Germany, she had experiences as varied as working for the Walt Disney co. and Siemens Power Generation researching gas turbine thermal cover typical failures.

As the daughter of two engineers, she said it is probably not surprising that she entered the field but she said she was surprised to see fewer females studying engineering in the United States than in her native country, Colombia.

Bohorquez has applied for a Fulbright award to return to Germany for further study next year and intends to pursue graduate school.

Owen Pryor, a doctoral student who received bachelor’s degrees in political science and aerospace engineering and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, all at UCF, specializes in combustion and how long it takes to ignite a fuel source.

At DLR he had the opportunity to work with a model system that uses pure oxygen to help burn fuel that can result in fewer emissions. He said that in his years of schooling he never stopped to consider that engineering could take him around the world.

“I thought that maybe I would get a job and move to another country but I didn’t realize this was part of being an engineer.”

Story by Barbara Abney, originally posted on UCF Today

2017-11-22T13:11:26+00:00 November 22nd, 2017|Categories: News|

Using Rocket Science to Make Coal-Fueled Power Plants More Efficient, Safe

A team led by University of Central Florida engineers is using rocket science in the form of a rotating engine sparked by multiple detonation points to make coal-fueled power plants more efficient and safer for the environment.

Kareem Ahmed and Subith Vasu, assistant professors of mechanical and aerospace engineering, are leading the investigation for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and are the first in the country to explore the technology for fueling energy systems.

The $1.3 million project is one of nine funded by the agency and one of only three led by universities. The team will receive $1 million from the DOE and $300,000 from other resources.

Coal is one of the world’s most abundant fuel sources. Coal-fueled power plants provide a third of the electricity we have today in our homes, according to the U.S. Department of Energy but also produces carbon dioxide emissions that are a danger to the environment. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas and has been linked by scientists to global warming. The DOE invested $12 million into the nine research projects to enable the expanded use of coal while also achieving the goal of zero pollutants.

Ahmed and Vasu’s project will explore the feasibility of using coal to power rotating detonation engines, a type of circular design that is spun by successive supersonic detonation waves.

“The goal is to have these supersonic detonation waves interact with the coal particles and fuse them into nothingness while producing significant amounts of energy, similar to planetary supernovas,” Ahmed said. “Creating conditions that will help us burn coal efficiently are crucial.”

Rotating detonation engines are actively being explored by Department of Defense for use in rocket and jet engines, which the UCF team is already involved in.

The technology could be more fuel-efficient than conventional engines because burning happens supersonically at higher pressures created by these detonations. While the approach has not yet been explored for coal-powered energy systems, the team is predicting that in addition to requiring less power, the systems will also produce fewer emissions.

Ahmed said the reason only three university-led projects were selected is because the type of proposed high-impact work is often easier for industry to undertake.

He credits UCF’s Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Engine Research, led by Professor Jayanta Kapat and where he and Vasu serve as faculty, as providing the partnerships with companies such as Aerojet Rocketdyne that many universities cannot offer.

“CATER offers the kind of fundamental and applied research industry needs,” Vasu said. “Most of our projects involve industry so we understand their requirements.”

Ahmed said his continuing work with Aerojet Rocketdyne on related projects was critical to obtaining the proper equipment for the research as well as familiarizing the team with the coal-fired rotating detonating combustor process. Two graduate students and one post-doctoral scholar will assist with the project.

Ahmed also spent last summer working on a U.S. Air Force Research Lab Summer Faculty Fellowship program that focused on rotating detonating engines. He also has been awarded grants from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Doctoral New Investigator from the American Chemical Society – Petroleum Research Fund to explore the mechanisms of turbulent deflagration-to-detonation transition and hypersonic standing detonations, both of which played a key role in the proposed work.

By combining Vasu’s expertise in combustion chemistry and emission-laser diagnostics and Ahmed’s strengths in propulsion and combustion-laser diagnostics with the industry connections, the team was the perfect fit for the research, Vasu said.

“Using less fuel for power generation means an incredible savings both financially and in terms of the environment,” Vasu said.

Story by Barbara Abney, originally posted on UCF Today

2017-11-22T13:15:40+00:00 November 21st, 2017|Categories: News|

Seminar Series: “Heat at Interfaces”

UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department continues its Fall Seminar Series by welcoming Dr. Pawel Keblinski on Friday, November 17th from 1:30-2:20PM in ENG II, Room 103. Dr. Keblinski will present his topic “Heat at Interfaces”.

(Abstract) An interface between two materials poses a resistance to the heat flow, which is addition to the resistance of the bulk of the material. Consequently, materials with high density of interfaces, such as supperlattices, nanocrytalline materials, and nanocomposites, can exhibit thermal conduction that is far lower than values characterizing bulk materials with little or no interfaces. Such thermal conductivity reduction can be advantageous, e.g., in the case of thermal barrier coatings or thermoelectric materials, or detrimental, when the objective is to enable efficient heat dissipation, as is the case for thermal interface materials.

In my presentation I will discus factors determining heat flow across interfaces and the ability of the atomic-level simulation and calculation techniques to shed light on the relative role of these factors, and the relationship between interfacial structure and bonding and interfacial thermal resistance. Aimed with this information and predictions of the continuum-level homogenization theories, I will discuss design principles and for nanocomposite materials with good thermal transport properties. Finally I will demonstrate how molecular dynamics simulations can significantly contribute to the century old discussion about the relationship between interfacial kinetics and thermodynamic conditions and the rate of evaporation/condensation at the liquid-vapor interface.

(more…)

2017-11-16T17:29:48+00:00 November 16th, 2017|Categories: Seminar Series|

Tales from the UCF BRaIN Lab on Lend Me Your Engineers Episode 9

On this episode of Lend Me Your Engineers, we go on location to record the UCF Knightly News conducting an interview with Helen Huang in the UCF BRaIN Lab.

Contact us at LendMeYourEngineers@ucf.edu.

Right click to download audio file.

Subscribe on iTunes and never miss an episode. While you’re there, please rate our show and leave a comment!

2017-11-13T16:16:08+00:00 November 13th, 2017|Categories: Podcasts|

Helen Huang, Director of UCF BRaIN Lab, joins Lend Me Your Engineers Episode 8

On this episode of Lend Me Your Engineers, we talk to Helen Huang, Director of the Biomechanics, Rehabilitation, and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience (BRaIN) Lab at UCF.

Contact us at LendMeYourEngineers@ucf.edu.

Right click to download audio file.

Subscribe on iTunes and never miss an episode. While you’re there, please rate our show and leave a comment!

2017-11-07T10:00:17+00:00 November 7th, 2017|Categories: Podcasts|

UCF Research Aims to Improve Engine Efficiencies

UCF engineers are leading a project that could ultimately make gas turbines, such as those used to generate power and run jet engines, safer and more efficient.

The project, led by Seetha Raghavan and co-investigator Ranajay Ghosh, of  the College of Engineering & Computer Science, focuses on using optics and sensors along with advanced computational analysis to develop monitoring techniques to make sure that the thermal coatings surrounding the hottest sections of turbine engines do not overheat or degrade while the engine is in motion. Ultimately the research could make turbomachinery operation safer, improve efficiency and reduce emissions.

The UCF project is one of nine in six areas funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy.

Raghavan’s project was the only one in the nation funded under the topic addressing Advanced Instrumentation and will receive $880,000. That includes $150,000 from Siemens Power Generation, which will be used as fellowships to support three graduate students. Sanjida Jahan, Peter Warren and Lin Rossmann will contribute to the project by conducting research at UCF and the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. The team is part of UCF’s Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Energy Research, which is a leader in the area of turbomachinery research.

“This research project provides excellent opportunities for our team to work closely with industry as well as a national laboratory,” Raghavan said.

The team will conduct experiments in extreme environments and advanced computational analysis to develop techniques and instrumentation that better monitor coating integrity with the goal of enabling higher turbine temperatures in the engines. Achieving higher temperatures would mean greater efficiency in converting the chemical energy of the jet’s fuel into mechanical work. Emissions also would be reduced. This is significant for both jet engines and turbines used for power generation.

Using optics and sensors will enable the researchers to monitor the coatings surrounding the engine, protecting metal blades and other parts from heat beyond what they could typically endure.

The work will be done in three phases:

  • Computationally driven sensor configuration needed to work with the coating-processing methods
  • Establishing the properties of the sensing configurations to accurately measure data such as deterioration times in conjunction with temperatures and erosion rates
  • Designing instrumentation that is small enough to be efficient while also producing the clearest possible images for accurate data collection.

Raghavan said UCF’s alignment with industry, including Siemens Power Generation and GE Aviation, were beneficial in the receipt of the grant. The college has ongoing programs such as internships and faculty fellowships with Siemens and also works with the gas-turbine industry on funded research projects.

While the initial research will be done by replicating extreme engine environments at laboratory-scale, Raghavan said the ultimate goal is to develop a system that can be used in working turbine engines.

Engineering faculty Kareem Ahmed and Subith Vasu also received a $600,000 subcontract on another project funded under this particular DOE program. The researchers are also members of CATER.

Story by Barbara Abney, originally posted on UCF Today

2017-11-02T15:35:06+00:00 November 2nd, 2017|Categories: News|

Engineering Grant Seeks to Predict Falls – and How to Stop Them

More than 2.8 million older Americans visit emergency rooms for fall-related injuries each year, but UCF Assistant Professor Helen Huang hopes those numbers can be reduced with the help of a new $1.5 million research grant she received to find new approaches for predicting fall risk and creating balance-training programs.

Huang secured the National Institutes of Health R01 Award in her second year as an assistant professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. The five-year grant awarded in August by the National Institute on Aging will look at “Adaptation of brain and body responses to perturbations during gait in young and older adults.”

To work towards brain-based gait rehabilitation and fall interventions, researchers must first determine the brain processes involved in balance control during walking, and recovery from losses of balance in young and older adults. Huang’s research involves collecting brain-wave and muscle-activity data to understand how people maintain their balance and adapt their movement patterns to disruptions during walking and exercise.

In addition to preventing the debilitation of hip fractures and head injuries, the findings would help reduce the economic burden of falls among older adults. The medical costs associated with falls in the United States total about $31 billion each year, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Tests will be carried out on a specially fitted treadmill that has two belts to walk on, one for each leg. The belt speeds can be run independently so one belt can go faster than the other.

“We use this feature to suddenly slow down or speed up a belt for a fraction of a second to create a small slip backwards or trip forwards,” Huang said. “The treadmill can also shift side to side. With this feature, we can create a slip in the side-to-side direction.”

By applying changes on the treadmill, researchers can see how the subjects react and adapt their walking pattern.

The treadmill’s incline/decline also can be adjusted as people walk to create a rolling terrain and it also has a self-paced mode, which allows the machine to change its speed to match the person’s walking speed.

While walking on the treadmill, the subjects’ brain waves will be recorded using electroencephalography with electrodes placed on the scalp to measure electrical activity generated by neurons in the brain. The system has 128 electrodes and will process the data to identify the brain areas that are the primary sources of the electrical activity during walking and responding to the perturbations.

“We expect to find that both young and older adults can adapt to these perturbations but that older adults will adapt less,” Huang said. “We expect that subjects will use a combination of anticipating and reacting to the perturbations to maintain their balance.

“If we could identify who is more likely to fall, then we could develop preventative balance-training programs to help reduce their fall risk. Additionally, we hope to be able to use brain dynamics to help customize fall-training programs and interventions for each individual.”

Her co-investigator on the grant is Professor Carolynn Patten at the University of Florida. Also helping with the project will be Assistant Professor Ladda Thiamwong in the UCF College of Nursing and Assistant Professor Hsin-Hsiung Huang in the Statistics department, who were added co-investigators once the project began.

Huang, who has a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Michigan, said this research meshes with her lifetime interest in movement and sports.

“I’ve played many sports throughout my life, and having a good sense of balance is beneficial. Unfortunately, I have really bad balance from repeated ankle sprains,” she said. “I seem to trip over imaginary lines and sprain my ankles on pea-sized pebbles.”

The study is looking for healthy volunteers 18-35 years old and 60-85 years old. Interested individuals can contact the team to conduct a brief interview about their overall health to determine eligibility. Interested individuals can email ucfbrainlab@gmail.com to learn more about the project.

Story by Gene Kruckemyer, originally posted on UCF Today

2017-10-30T15:31:00+00:00 October 30th, 2017|Categories: News|

Patrick Braillard, Show Director for Halloween Horror Nights, joins LMYE Episode 7

On this episode of Lend Me Your Engineers, we face our fears at Halloween Horror Nights with Patrick Braillard, UCF grad and Show Director for Creative Development for Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights.

Contact us at LendMeYourEngineers@ucf.edu.

Right click to download audio file.

Subscribe on iTunes and never miss an episode. While you’re there, please rate our show and leave a comment!

2017-10-30T14:40:02+00:00 October 30th, 2017|Categories: Podcasts|

Seminar Series: “Working in a Vacuum: 20 Years of Control for Space Applications”

UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department continues its Fall Seminar Series by welcoming Dr. R. Scott Erwin on Friday, October 27th from 1:30-2:20PM in ENG II, Room 103. Dr. Erwin will present his topic “Working in a Vacuum: 20 Years of Control for Space Applications”.

(Abstract) I will provide a short summary of the control systems projects I have worked on over the past 20 years at the Air Force Research Laboratory to provide perspective on how control systems theory and techniques have been/are being transitioned and applied to a number of problems faced by the Air Force and the Government in general.  The briefing will touch on (a) the use of active control for vibration and jitter suppression in precision pointing applications (late 1990’s) (b) multivariable & adaptive control techniques for positioning, phasing, and controlling the vibration of large deployable space telescopes (2000’s), (c) techniques for distributed estimation and sensor network management applied to the problem of tracking the global population of space objects (2010’s), and finally (d) current research efforts in optimal trajectory control for tracking and characterization of an unknown space object by space-based sensors.

(more…)

2017-10-24T13:13:19+00:00 October 24th, 2017|Categories: Seminar Series|