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Ohio State student wins first prize at international student conference

Collin O'NeillCollin O'Neill

Collin O’Neill, an Ohio Space Grant Consortium Fellow and a graduate student pursuing a master’s in aerospace engineering, won the first prize in the international student conference in the undergraduate category on Jan. 6 at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) SciTech Forum in Orlando, Florida.

O’Neill competed against six other regional-winning contestants from around the world with his research, presentation and paper. The competition was based on several categories like quality of the presentation and paper, impact on industry and how novel the work is.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity and after seeing all the other talks, everybody there was brilliant,” O’Neill said. “It was just an honor to be among them and to be selected as the best talk.”

The research focused on active flow control for offset diffusers for aircraft engines. Diffusers provide the required airflow for aircraft engines and are typically straight, but O’Neill’s research focused on using plasma actuators to solve the problems with flow that arise when an aircraft uses a diffuser that is offset.

An offset diffuser is useful because it allows the aircraft’s engines to be installed inside the plane allowing for more aerodynamic efficiency and stealth.

O’Neill credited Ohio State’s faculty and facilities for his success and ability to conduct the research which led to his winning presentation and paper.

“The experimental facilities are only found in a select few places especially in academia. Those opportunities were available to me as a junior in college, which is not something you are going to find elsewhere,” O’Neill said. “The faculty we have surrounding the students, I had a great adviser who was encouraging me to get involved in all this stuff, and a research scientist who helped me keep the research going even when I couldn’t always be there, who also gave me ideas on where to go and helped me through all those steps.”

O’Neill’s advice to other students considering doing a competition like this: seize the opportunity.

“This is one of the many opportunities that presents itself and I would say to seize all of those opportunities. The worst thing you can do when you seize one of these opportunities is fail, and you are going to learn from that failure and be better for it anyways,” said O’Neill. “This is just one of those rare opportunities where I ended up being successful and I had to seize many of them before I was successful.”

by Jake Rahe, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering