For me, science and engineering has always been about designing solutions to the various problems in our everyday lives. When I began doing research in seventh grade, my very first project was a roof that converted the impact energy of precipitation into electricity to help power the home. The following year, I came up with a dynamically supportive knee brace that implements smart fluids to vary the amount of support that patients received, depending on the physical activity. Last year, I created a self-cleaning outdoor garbage bin to tackle the issue of urban sanitation in our neighborhoods.
Yet perhaps, I am best known for my most recent project, which won the 2015 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, out of 1,700 students nationally selected from 75+ countries. This year, I tackled the issue of airborne pathogen spread in aircraft cabins, generating the industry’s first high fidelity simulations of airflow inside airplane cabins. Using my insights, I engineered economically feasible solutions that altered cabin airflow patterns, creating personalized breathing zones for each individual passenger to effectively curb pathogen inhalation by up to 55 times and improve fresh air inhalation by more than 190%. Continue reading →
Four years ago, as a high school sophomore, I began work on an independent project that explored ways to improve the performance of high-lift systems used on the Airbus A330-300. One of the biggest challenges facing me was how to best conduct experiments to assess the performance of the different designs. In prior years, I had conducted simple research on aircraft wing design and aeroelasticity using unpowered balsa models of the aircraft being tested. To employ this same method would be unworkable for the relatively complex systems of flaps and slats required by the Airbus aircraft. I would have needed to build a larger scale model or perform wind-tunnel testing — neither of which was viable because I did not have access to equipment of the complexity required. Continue reading →
There is a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein that I am very fond of.
“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.”
In my humble opinion, they are complementary. I have seen many great classes and books teaching the theory of CFD and FEA — how to discretize the governing equations, the difference between different numerical schemes, implicit vs. explicit formulations, etc. But when engineers are trained, we need to make sure we also give them the tools and tutorials to put the theory to work and help them practice how to use CFD and FEA to develop better products, solve complex challenges.
With the increase of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones) in the skies, the rapid rise of robotics, and the development of embedded technologies and autonomous smart systems for the Internet of Things, small teams of engineers face bigger and bigger challenges. While it was once enough to be an expert in a single type of physics, these complex, interacting systems require modern engineers to have more knowledge of multiphysics, model-based systems engineering and embedded software than their predecessors.
My 4th grade son participated in an after school Code Club this school year. It was an excellent introduction to coding and STEM. During the Club, kids use Scratch from MIT to create animations and games that they later showcased to their parents. Mrs. Pollard leads the code club and writes her own blog about it. There were 2 rounds of Code Club this school year, with about 20 kids in each session and with ½ being girls. Continue reading →
In coastal areas, hurricanes can severely damage buildings, people and cause a lot of havoc. Therefore, scientists at Florida International University (FIU) are studying hurricanes and how their effects can be mitigated using the Wall of Wind (WOW). WOW is a research facility developed by FIU’s International Hurricanes Research Center (IHRC), Miami, Florida. Continue reading →
The Swanson School of Engineering — located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, a short four miles from the downtown — is having its first Student Design EXPO today, Thursday, December 4, from 6:00 to 8:30 in Alumni Hall. This first EXPO has a unique focus on sustainability — each of the 71 projects must include a sustainability component as this is the “Year of Sustainability” at the University of Pittsburgh.
The Swanson School has an obvious strong relationship to ANSYS. John Swanson, ANSYS’s founder received his PhD from us. On December 5, 2007, John presented the University of Pittsburgh with a most generous gift and we became the Swanson School of Engineering. John is a frequent visitor to the Swanson School and is currently mentoring several student projects focused on harvesting and using solar energy, a current passion of his. Continue reading →
The Lebanese American University (LAU) challenged its students to design an unmanned aircraft capable of long flights at high altitudes. Our LAU Solix Team, comprised of eight mechanical engineering students, is very familiar with ANSYS tools and is skilled at handling CFD and fluid–structure interaction (FSI) simulations so we put these tools to work on our unmanned aircraft design. The team had to deal with the interaction that happens between fluid and structure that occurs in a wide range of engineering problems — especially in aircraft design. Continue reading →