Mechanical engineering doctoral student Erik Ninneman has been named a recipient of the 2020 Gas Turbine Industrial Fellowship, which gives college students the chance to conduct a research project under the guidance of an industry sponsor.
Ninneman will spend the summer interning for Siemens Energy Inc. in Orlando, where he’ll analyze combustor designs that prevent the emission of harmful byproducts and process data from test rigs.
This fellowship is a perfect fit for Ninneman, who works in the Vasu Lab where combustion is a primary research focus. Over the past five years that he’s spent in the lab, he’s gained a lot of skills — writing code, using lasers to measure properties of the combustion process, and even leading a team — that he says will be valuable in this fellowship.
“In the last two semesters, I have taken the gas turbine classes that UCF and have gained an immense understanding and appreciation for the complexity of these amazing engines. But there always is still more to learn,” Ninneman said. “I am so excited to be working with industry leaders in the gas turbine discipline to help design and develop cleaner, more efficient engines to meet the energy needs of society.”
Conversely, this experience will help Ninneman as he finishes his dissertation, which focuses on the measurement of molecule concentration throughout the combustion process. This information can be used in combustion simulations for new engine designs.
“This is a side of the research I don’t ever see and am eager to learn about,” Ninneman said. “I’ve spent years researching the fundamentals but am ready to be a part of how that research plays into the bigger picture that helps society on a daily basis.”
The fellowship is managed by the University Turbine System Research program, which falls under the umbrella of the Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy. Ninneman is the 11th MAE student to be named a GTIF fellow since the program’s inception in 2010.