The College of Engineering and Applied Science’s mechanical engineering graduate student, Annette Volk, has recently received the Honorable Mention for the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Volk is being recognized for her active volunteering and academic achievements during her undergraduate career.
Volk received her BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Evansville last spring. She is now a direct PhD student as she has just started working towards her MS in mechanical engineering and has already indicated to her department that she intends to continue on to earn her PhD in Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD).
CFD is an approach to fluid dynamics wherein researchers recreate/model real-world physics using mathematical equations, and solve the mathematical equations using numerical methods. For more complex problems, they frequently use super-computers. Volk says of the field, “I enjoy discovering the wide range of physical phenomena present in the flows which must be fully understood in each simulation. This knowledge is amazing to learn and it is exciting to see CFD being used to illuminate the lesser understood phenomena and push the boundaries of our knowledge.”
As a Cincinnati native, Volk knew of CEAS’ renowned reputation and so, when she was looking at graduate schools, UC was a natural choice. After applying to several schools, including UC, she was invited to and attended the CEAS Graduate Recruitment weekend.
Volk explains, “During the weekend, I met many great professors, spoke with graduate students pursuing a range of research topics, and most importantly (though I didn’t know at the time) I met with Drs. Kelly Anderson, Bernie Rudd and Teik C. Lim at the UC Simulation Center. I was excited by the prospect of working at a near-campus location (emphasizing interaction between graduate students) on projects that are of great importance to Procter & Gamble as well as the academic community, so when I received an offer letter I was ecstatic! None of the other universities to which I applied could offer such a unique opportunity. As a new graduate student, it was also very comforting to have a research assistant position waiting for me.”
Volk interned for Whirlpool and General Electric during her undergraduate career at the University of Evansville. Upon her arrival in Cincinnati last summer, she began working at the UC Simulation Center, under the guidance of Urmila Ghia, PhD and Director CFD Research Lab, and Kelly Anderson, CEAS adjunct associate professor and the P&G Site Coordinator for the UC Simulation Center.
At the UC Simulation Center, Volk works with fellow graduate researchers and P&G employees to apply CFD to analyze a number of different processes, which can occur anywhere from the manufacturing of products to their use.
The UC Simulation Center opened in 2008 as a collaborative effort between the University of Cincinnati and P&G. Throughout its existence, the Center’s collaborative teams of P&G and UC engineers and students have worked on dozens of P&G projects. These collaborations give P&G access to solutions and talent, while providing students with opportunities to work on real-time projects. P&G has hired a number of students through the program, with several more moving on to work at many of P&G’s suppliers and partners.
The Simulation Center capitalizes on the college’s computer simulation expertise to provide P&G with cost-effective, high value virtual modeling and simulation capabilities, that are applied to their products and manufacturing processes, while also developing a talent pipeline for future recruitment.
The center focuses on areas such as manufacturing reliability engineering, plant layout, Web modeling, packaging analyses, fluid flow in porous media and fit modeling through student and P&G collaborations.
Volk reflects, “CEAS has connected me with great professors and opportunities that have led to this recognition. Being connected to great opportunities for growth and learning, like those at the UC Simulation Center, as well as many talented and dedicated professors is a great advantage during my academic career.
Receiving this honor is a testament to the untiring work of Dr. Urmila Ghia, who encouraged me to apply to CEAS and helped me every step of the way. Her diligent mentoring was a major factor in the results of my application. Another major factor was the dedication of Dr. Kelly Anderson, who encouraged and assisted me throughout the application process. I am forever indebted to both of them for their help in the application process as well as their continuing support in my academic career.”
Volk is expected to graduate with her masters in mechanical engineering in the spring of 2014. Afterwards, she will continue to work towards her PhD at UC. Volk eagerly awaits what the future holds for her upon earning her doctorate.
The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. The NSF welcomes applications from all qualified students and strongly encourages under-represented populations, including women, under-represented racial and ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, to apply for this fellowship.