UC Gives 5th highest number of Presentations at AIAA SciTech Conference

By: Liz Daubenmire

The University of Cincinnati was a part of 32 presentations given at the AIAA SciTech Conference in Kissimmee Florida, making UC number 5 for most presentations. 

SciTech Conference

UC Researchers attended the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) SciTech Conference in late January presenting on a range of topics.  This prestigious conference includes research contributions from world renowned academic institutions, government laboratories and industry.

The University of Cincinnati was among those with the heaviest presence at the conference.  Aerospace Engineering Department Head, Paul Orkwis, explains, “Ohio retains its place as the birthplace of aviation with more contributions from academic institutions than any other state. It is a testament to the quality of aerospace and the support it receives in this great state.”

Other researchers include Kelly Cohen, PhD, Ephraim Gutmark, PhD, Mark G. Turner, ScD Elad Kivelevitch, PhD and several undergraduate and graduate students.  The research presented centers largely around Fuzzy Logic, which is used to create human-like reasoning in robots to solve complex problems while in space. 

Andrew Stubblebine, aerospace senior, Stephen Higgins, aerospace junior, and Tejas Desphande, computer science, sophomore, were all involved in Professor Kivelevitch’s project for the creators of MATLAB, a software package for sophisticated mathematic analysis and display. 

“The Challenge: You work for NASA, on the project team that's designing the successor to the Mars Pathfinder mission. This is the first of a series of missions designed to complete a detailed survey of the planet's surface. Your team will be landing a set of five robotic surface rovers to survey the region of the planet's surface. Your job is to write an algorithm to direct those rovers.”

Kivelevitch explains, “Essentially, the goal of the competition was to control a team of 5 robots to navigate a map with obstacles by telling each one of them, in each step, whether to move forward, turn right, turn left or do nothing. The competition had hundreds of submissions that worked partially in collaboration and partially in competition.”

He continues, “Another team, comprised of nine graduate and undergraduate level students, presented their work to solve the Autonomous Aerial Vehicle Competition. They developed algorithms (complex formulas) for detection and avoidance of obstacles, navigation without GPS, and target identification using a video camera.”

These presentations are just a few examples of the groundbreaking research taking place at the university. 

Professor Gutmark, PhD

Professor Gutmark, PhD

Ephraim Gutmark and his students contributed to nine presentations at SciTech.  One focus for the group was the Rotating Detonation Engine (RDE).  According to Gutmark, “Detonation, unlike ordinary combustion, reacts with the mixture in the system at speeds greater than the speed of sound. This enables higher energy extraction from a given amount of fuel when compared to regular combustion.”  The alternative reaction has been estimated to deduct “up to 400 million from the annual fuel expenditure for the US Navy.”

Professor Gutmark explains, “The UC team presented a numerical study of different fuel ad oxidizer injections to enable better mixing in the RDE… The team discovered a unique instability in the RDE for the first time which is distinguished by a periodic pulsing behavior of the detonation wave inside the engine.”  The team’s findings were extensive as Gutmark goes on to say, “A unique centerbody-free RDE was simulated in CFD as a proof of concept.  This may result in more compact RDE combustors and high-efficiency RDE afterburner designs.  Finally, a peripheral study of the heat transfer to the RDE walls during the engine operation was investigated numerically and experimentally, and subsequently presented at SciTech.”

Professor Kelly Cohen, PhD

Professor Kelly Cohen, PhD

Aerospace Professor Kelly Cohen, PhD also explains his paper with his PhD student, Nicholas Ernest and co-authors from the Air Force Research Laboratories, titled, Multi-agent Cooperative Decision Making using Genetic Cascading Fuzzy Systems, investigates control of unmanned combat aerial vehicles.  Cohen explains, “This study improves upon a novel type of intelligent system and a Genetic Cascading Fuzzy System to better mitigate worst-case scenarios.  To highlight the capabilities and modularity of this approach, a Cooperative Task Assignment Algorithm is implemented bringing more intelligent behavior to the aircraft in these difficult missions.”

Another aerospace professor, Mark G. Turner, ScD, makes a special note of the presentation titled, “Maple Seed Performance as a Wind Turbine,”authored by two undergraduate students, Jacob Holden and Caley Thomas.  He explains, “The work involved doing a computational simulation of a maple seed dropping and rotating.”  The movement of a maple seed, or helicopter as children may refer to them as, actually create a “nearly optimal wind turbine.”  Turner says, “Jake Holden did the presentation, and did an excellent job.  He passed out maple seeds to the audience, and had them drop them for themselves.”  Jake plans to extend the work for his master’s thesis, showing how impactful undergraduate papers can be. 

The many presenters at the AIAA conference continue to keep the University of Cincinnati ranked among the highest in the nation.  Their dedication to research is one of the many reasons WE ENGINEER BETTER™.