Ohio State undergrads take 1st prize at 2021 Region III Regional Student Conference

Posted: June 1, 2021

Multiple mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) students’ research papers were first-place award winners at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Region III Regional Student Conference competition in 2021.

Jonathan Richmond

Jonathan Richmond, a fourth-year in aerospace engineering, and the MAE capstone research group of Emmanuel Adu, project manager; Grant Davis, experimental team lead; William Mullin, computational team lead; Aaron Bell, computational specialist; Keaton Melendez, computational specialist; and Ben Stefanko, experimental specialist; all won first place for their papers submitted to the conference.

First-place winners are invited to attend and present their papers at the AIAA International Student Conference, to be held in conjunction with the 2022 AIAA SciTech Forum in San Diego, CA, 3–7 January 2022.

Richmond’s paper titled Optimizing Trajectories for Unpowered Hypersonic Waveriders during Atmospheric Reentry won first place in the undergraduate category.

“This research provides insights into design specifications and constraints for hypersonic waveriders as well as potential atmospheric reentry trajectories,” Richmond said. “Optimized trajectories and hypersonic vehicles will help conserve resources and lower costs for atmospheric reentry on Earth and other planets.”

In the fall, Richmond will attend Purdue University to pursue a PhD in Aerospace Engineering focusing on Astrodynamics and Space Applications. After that, he hopes to work on trajectory planning and mission design for NASA.

“Receiving this recognition feels like my time and hard work is being acknowledged and that I am being accepted as part of the aerospace community,” Richmond said. “I feel like my efforts have paid off and that I am happy to have been able to make a contribution to the industry.”

Aerospace capstone team

The research team’s paper Evaluation of Regenerative Cooling Channels for Nuclear Thermal Propulsion was selected first place in the team category. The group was mentored by Professor Horack, Dr. Herderick, and Professor Ritchie.

In the project, the team was focused on implementing a regenerative cooling system to a nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) rocket nozzle. NTP is a promising space propulsion technology since it can provide extremely high efficiency compared to traditional techniques. However, challenges are present with NTP due to the extremely high nozzle temperatures encountered. Our project focused on experimentally and computationally testing sinusoidal cooling channels and investigating their effect on the performance of an NTP nozzle.

“The problem we were faced to solve was the issue of heat transfer through a rocket nozzle,” Grant Davis, the experimental team lead, said.  “Due to high temperature heat flow throughout the nozzle, cooling channels must be machined inside of the geometry to ensure the structural integrity of the materials.”

The group as a whole was thrilled to receive the recognition for their work.

“We are extremely grateful to receive recognition for our work over the last two semesters,” William Mullin, the computational team lead said. “As a team, we have received an immense amount of support and guidance from our advisors, Drs. John Horack and Edward Herderick. This award is the culmination of a large body of work and the efforts of many people throughout the university, not just the six of us.”

Members of the group have plans to continue their work in engineering at Boeing, BWX Technologies, or continue their studies at Ohio State. The group’s research will continue in Ohio State’s future capstone classes.