CEAS Staff and Students Take Home Three Awards at 40th DCASS

By: Shannon Frohme
June 11, 2015

Goutham Mylavarapu, PhD, and CEAS students Matthew Pinchak and Owen Macmann win “Best Presentation” awards at the 40th annual American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’ (AIAA) Dayton-Cincinnati Aerospace Science Symposium (DCASS).

The conference is a technical exchange for members of the regional aerospace community. Best Presentation Awards are awarded based on merits which include innovation and level of effort, technical contribution and presentation quality.

Technology categories that were awarded include Acoustic and Aeroelasticity, Unmanned Vehicles, Combustion, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Experimental Methods, Flow Control, Fluid Dynamics, Human Factors, Image and Diagnostics, Materials, Optimization & Uncertainty, Space, Structures, Thermal & Heat Transfer and Image & Diagnostics.

Goutham Mylavarapu, PhD

Goutham Mylavarapu, PhD

Aerospace-Designed Tools Advance Research on Turner Syndrome Disorder

Goutham Mylavarapu, PhD and CEAS senior research associate in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics has always been fascinated by the versatility of fluid mechanics. Whether it’s developing cutting-edge aircraft, designing a bridge or studying the flow of bodily fluids, his inquisitiveness never rests. Bottling up his natural curiosity for fluid mechanics, or the study of flow, Mylavarapu won the DCASS Best Presentation award for the human factors category on his current research titled, “Aortic Blood Flow Simulations Using CFD & Phase Contrast Magnetic Resonance Images.”

Distinguished professor Ephraim Gutmark, PhD, of CEAS aerospace engineering and otolaryngology, mentored Mylavarapu’s doctoral project on computational fluid dynamics (CFD) in human upper airway breathing. Initially developed with aerospace applications in mind, it’s interesting to note that CFD is widely used in the study of biomedical flow systems. CFD uses computer algorithms to study fluids in motion.

Phase contrast magnetic resonance images (pcmri) are scans displaying a patient’s blood flow. These images present difficulties to cardiologists as they are often times unclear and grainy. Clarifying this crucial step in the analytical process, Mylavarapu has written a computer code that extracts the quantitative data and highlights the qualitative data. He further improves the spatial and temporal resolution of this data through computer simulations of blood flow in realistic, representative anatomical geometries reconstructed from the patient scans. This provides the clinicians with a more clear interpretation of the data that can be put to use in clinical practice and directly impact patients,” explains Mylavarapu.

The noisy pcMRI images with encoded velocity information is decoded to more meaningful and useful quantitative information

The noisy pcMRI images with encoded velocity information is decoded to more meaningful and useful quantitative information

Although the methodology Mylavarapu developed is useful to study any patient population, their research team is interested to apply these tools and computer codes to study cardiovascular risk assessment in individuals with Turner Syndrome. This disorder causes abnormalities in female sex chromosomes, causing one X chromosome to be fully present while the other X chromosome is missing or altered, resulting in physical deformities. This disorder affects one in every 2,000 live births.

Mylavarapu elaborates on the complications of the chromosomal disorder, “In addition to physical deformities, Turner Syndrome causes malformation of aortic arch geometry which can lead to undesired blood circulation and heart problems.” His research will analyze how blood flow through female anatomy changes over time, ultimately building a statistical tool to predict risks in the patient population.

Having presented at DCASS for the fifth year in a row, Mylavarapu strongly encourages students to embrace this opportunity to present their research, even if in its preliminary stages, to gain invaluable feedback and strengthen their public speaking skills.

Iris Gutmark-Little, MD, a researcher of Turner Syndrome disease and faculty of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the Department of Pediatrics for UC’s College of Medicine, is also a mentor of Goutham Mylavarapu’s work. Mylavarapu received his PhD in aerospace engineering at the UC College of Engineering and Applied Science in 2013.

Advancement of Aircraft Propulsion Systems

The Trans World Airlines Flight 800 crash outside of New York City in 1996 sparked young Matthew Pinchak’s interest as to how such large, heavy objects have the capability of flying through the air. Now a fourth year UC CEAS aerospace engineering PhD candidate for aircraft propulsion systems, Matthew won Best Presentation for the combustion category on his research titled, “Effects of Axial Stretch on the Flame Propagation Enhancement of Large Hydrocarbons by Addition of Ozone.”

Assisted by Ephraim Gutmark, PhD, Pinchak advances research on high-speed air-breathing propulsion systems, also known as scramjet engines. Designed to propel aircraft vehicles in excess of 3,000 mph (over five times the speed of sound), high speed air-breathing propulsion systems often present major challenges to engineers.

Since these “air-breathing” systems carry only the fuel on board and use oxygen in the air as an oxidizer, Pinchak explains, “The challenge is that the air moves through the engine at such intense speeds that you have only milliseconds to properly mix the fuel and air and completely burn it, while somehow keeping the flame lit continuously. Imagine trying to keep a candle burning in intense winds.” 

Particles seeded in the flow of the flame measure the speed and burn rate of the flow

Particles seeded in the flow of the flame measure the speed and burn rate of the flow

His collaborative research efforts with the United States Air Force and GE Aviation address this complication. “By utilizing the ozone to increase the burning rate of the fuel-air mixture, we can stabilize the flame, completing the combustion process within the limited amount of time,” explains Matthew.

Enhancing burning rates not only depends on the amount of ozone added to the scramjet engines, but also depends on the flow conditions. “Specifically, for a given amount of ozone,” Pinchak explains, “more enhancement in the burning rate is achieved as flow conditions become more similar to those in actual engines.”

In addition to the above full-time research, Pinchak is also involved in research on gas turbine afterburner, which are used in military aircraft for short bursts of speed when taking off from a short runway and increasing maneuverability in combat. Pinchak graduated from UCLA with a BS in aerospace engineering and found DCASS to be a very exciting opportunity to see first-hand the cutting-edge research from the top most respected institutions. 

Owen Macmann, assisted by UC Professor Kelly Cohen, PhD, won Best Presentation for Image & Diagnostics on “Using Intelligent Systems for Object Recognition in Thermal Imaging Analysis.”

Congratulations to Goutham, Matthew and Owen for their ambitious accomplishments and the best of luck in the continuation of your research projects.