Professor and PhD student receive AFRL/DAGSI student-faculty fellowship

Posted: March 23, 2021

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering graduate Student, TJ Miller, and his advisor, Dr. Jack McNamara, have been selected for the 2021 Air Force Research Laboratory – Defense Associated Graduate Student Innovators (AFRL/DAGSI) Ohio Student-Faculty Fellowship program. They were selected for their coauthored proposal titled “Temporal Convergence and Stability Assessment of the Generalized Finite Element Method (GFEM) for Multi-scale Field Problems.”

Miller said their research looks specifically at transient heat transfer problems with highly localized loading conditions. The team aims to demonstrate how to most efficiently time march numerical solution of differential equations when using GFEM.

“The end goal is to extend this to approximating the extreme environments in high-speed flow problems accurately at reduced computational cost,” said Miller.

This year, 52 proposals were submitted to the fellowship program. From that pool, only 13 were selected for funding.

“It is a very competitive fellowship and to have been selected for it out of all the great proposals submitted feels accomplishing and joyous to have been on of a few deemed worthy of it,” Miller said. “At the same time though, it’s a bit intimidating as expectations are high and I want to be able to live up to those and show prowess in my research so I can continue to work with the AFRL in the future.”


McNamara said he is confident in Miller’s work after having advised him previously during his time as an undergraduate researcher. The funding will also allow Miller to begin to make progress on his PhD work, while maintaining ties with the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“This fellowship comes right after another student in my group, and former DAGSI fellow, Troy Shilt, was awarded an OSU Presidential Fellowship. Both TJ and Troy are working on application of the generalized finite element method (GFEM) for multi-scale solution of multi-physics field problems,” said McNamara. “I have only been working with GFEM for the past 3 to 4 years – DAGSI funding has enabled our group to grow this area of research from the ground up.   It also ensures that we will have sustained activity, critical to maintaining momentum, once Troy graduates this year.”

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has had major effects on both education and research this past year. However, as a computational group, McNamara said Miller was able to keep up research productivity without direct in-person access to resources.

“His rate of progress is remarkable, under even ideal circumstances,” McNamara added.

Over the course of the fellowship, Miller hopes not only to build on his research, but to gain experience through the program.

I hope to be able to gain real work experience and also discover what it’s like to work at a national lab,” Miller said. “I also hope to demonstrate the feasibility of my research and how it can be extended further beyond what I am currently doing to help advance numerical simulation techniques in approximating high-speed flows.”