The John A. & Jane Dunning Copper Fellowship is awarded to three Ph.D. Candidates
Harish Venkataraman, Luci Baker, and Andrew Akerson have been awarded the 2016-2017 John A. & Jane Dunning Copper Fellowship in Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics in recognition of passing the Doctoral Written Preliminary Examination with the three highest scores.
John A. Copper graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1957. After his 35-year career at McDonnell Douglas, John and Jane established the fellowship to recognize the University’s contribution to preparing John for a successful career. The fellowship is awarded to students who have an outstanding academic record and who demonstrate a strong aptitude in their field of study.
The first of the Fellowship recipients, Harish Venkataraman is an international graduate student, who came to the University of Minnesota after graduating from NIT Trichy with a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering. He says, “My experience with the AEM Department has been great so far, in fact I’ve had the highest learning curve of my life in the previous year.”
Harish is working on the project, “NRI: Collaborative Research: Autonomous Quadrotors for 3D modeling and Inspection of Outdoor Infrastructure,” with Professor Peter Seiler. This project consists of investigating the prospects of incorporating State-of-the-Art Reinforcement learning to the optimal control theory in order to build robust and adaptable controllers for autonomous aerial drones. He says, “I am very excited to work on this project as it could mean that we could build highly generic controllers which can adapt to diverse application and external conditions, and I am very fortunate to be working with Professor Seiler, because of his expertise in the field.”
Luci Baker graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics in the spring of 2016. “I decided to continue at the University of Minnesota for graduate school because of the excellent fluid mechanics research group here and to continue working on the research I did as an undergraduate student, which I found very interesting,” she says.
Luci does experimental fluid mechanics research with Professor Filippo Coletti. She is currently working on two projects involving particle laden turbulent flows; one numerical and one experimental. In the first project, she is studying how dust and other particles form clusters in turbulence and what fractal properties they have. In the second, she is experimentally studying very dense suspensions of hydrogel spheres in a turbulent water channel. She says, “The hydrogels spheres are nearly neutrally buoyant, and their size is comparable to the boundary layer momentum thickness. I am looking at how the particles modify the turbulence and interact with the fluid.”
Luci is very grateful to have been selected as a recipient of the Copper Fellowship. “This fellowship is allowing me to put more energy into my coursework and research so that I can get the most out of my time at the University of Minnesota,” she says.
Andrew Akerson graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics from the University of Minnesota in December 2016. After graduation, he decided to continue his education at AEM by pursuing a graduate degree. In commenting about his overall experience at AEM, Andrew says, “My experience has been great so far. The professors are very passionate in their work.”
Andrew is currently getting started on his research in solid mechanics with Professor Ryan Elliott. He looks forward to beginning this process.