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Three CEAT faculty members awarded NASA OK EPSCoR grant.

3 CEAT faculty members awarded NASA Oklahoma EPSCoR research initiation grants

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Media Contact: Desa James | Communications Coordinator | 405-744-8626 |

Drs. Alyssa Avery, Ritesh Sachan and Wei Zhao from the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology at Oklahoma State University have each been awarded a research initiation grant from NASA.   

The grants —  approximately $30,000 each — are used to support faculty research initiation fellowships. Proposed research will take place at a NASA center during an eight-week stay allowing professors to develop strong relationships with NASA colleagues and dive into their research. The experiences they gain at NASA can then be brought back to OSU to share in their classrooms and use in future proposals. 

Of the five awards that NASA gives out for their Oklahoma Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) RIG, three went to MAE faculty members. Sachan and Avery will conduct their research at Glenn Research Center in Ohio and Zhao will be at Langley and Ames Research centers in Virginia and California, respectively. 

Zhao’s project, “Graphics Processing Unit Computation and Reduced Order Models for Nonlinear Analysis of Advanced Aerospace Structures,” aims to support the United States' commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from aviation by 2050 while also reducing fuel consumption. 

“To do this, we're focusing on designing future civil transport aircraft that use lightweight materials and have long wings," Zhao said. “These long wings, however, can be quite flexible and bend significantly during flight, which presents safety challenges. Our research primarily seeks to understand the structural behavior of lightweight and long aircraft wings under various flight conditions.  

“The findings from our research will help design aircraft that are not only environmentally friendly but also safe and fuel-efficient. Additionally, our work supports the ongoing development of the X-66 truss-braced wing, which represents the latest advancements in aircraft design.”  

Each fall semester, Zhao teaches MAE 4513 aerospace structures to senior students. This research will allow him to integrate real-world examples and applications directly into the classroom, enhancing the learning experience for his students.  

“The truss-braced wing aircraft has been selected as the latest X-plane (X-66), which greatly excites and engages my students,” Zhao said. “They can now connect their classroom knowledge to cutting-edge research in the field of aerospace, making the learning process more dynamic and inspiring for them.” 

Sachan’s project, “Ionization Radiation Studies in High Entropy Silicides forSpaceMissions,” has the objective to develop new material coatings that can sustain harsh environments such as high- temperature radiation in space.  

Sachan and his team will be developing new high-entropy silicides, which are a recently discovered family of ceramics.  

“The students involved in this project will learn several new experimental techniques such as fabrication, characterization and property measurements that will create skills helpful in a broad range of technical areas,” Sachan said. 

“Since the high-entropy silicide materials are unconventional and don’t follow the traditionally known fundamental materials science, the learnings of this project will help in broadening the knowledge of students and aware them to the leading scientific discoveries. By including the discussions on these materials in my undergraduate materials science class, I’m planning to show the students the journey of materials from conceptual to advanced fronts.”  

Avery’s project, “Ice Accretion at Low Altitude for Autonomous Systems” will help to improve understanding of low velocity icing behavior and create a low-cost sensor that can detect ice accretion for low altitude systems. 

I am incredibly excited to work on this project and with the experts at NASA Glenn,” Avery said. “I have been reading papers from the facility for the last 10 years. It is a great opportunity for my own research to contribute to the work being done.”  

This opportunity will benefit MAE students as the experience and knowledge gained during Avery’s research can be applied to her courses.  

“Aircraft icing uses a blend of aerodynamics, droplet fluid behavior, sensor development and atmospheric science,” Avery said. “Considering these subjects together helps students make logical and engineering connections with their courses and projects.”  

 To learn more about the advancements in the field of aerospace being made at OSU, click here

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