Maninder Grover receives a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship
Maninder Grover, a Ph.D. candidate in the AEM department, was awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship for the 2016-2017 academic year from the University of Minnesota. The Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship gives the University's most accomplished Ph.D. candidates the opportunity to devote full-time effort to writing and finalizing their dissertations during the fellowship year. The Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Chris Cramer says, “The hard work that Mr. Grover has put into his studies and research projects has paid off and he is a credit to the Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics graduate program and to the College of Science and Engineering.”
Grover works with Dr. Schwartzentruber on rarefied non-equilibrium flows for conditions typically associated with spacecraft re-entry. He says, “It is important to study these flows to know exactly what hits spacecraft during reentry so as to make an optimal heat shield. Traditionally these heat shields have been designed based on experimental data or simplistic models. However, the further a spacecraft travels, the faster it comes back and the faster it comes back, the hotter the air around the spacecraft gets. Soon, a point is reached where experiments are not accurate enough or simply cannot be performed given the severity of the conditions.
He continues, “Our research approach involves simulating these flows at a molecular level with quantum mechanical potential energy surfaces provided by the chemists at the chemistry department. Hence we are able to produce flow conditions that are difficult to attain in experimental conditions while being accurate down to the molecular level. The beauty of this method is that it is independent of any form of modeling or experimental data and relies only on the quantum mechanical data. We also collaborate with chemists at NASA's Ames Research Center and use quantum mechanical data produced by them.”
Grover received his bachelors (2013) and masters (2015) degrees with the AEM department as well. He has been with the department for a total of four and a half years and at this point, he says, “It almost feels like a second home. To talk about my experience in the department, I would be remiss not to acknowledge the staff. The staff has been immensely helpful throughout my education, from selecting my first course as an undergrad to applying for graduation (twice up to now).”
Grover says that his graduate experience has been intellectually challenging but highly rewarding. He has always been given the freedom to approach a problem his own way, and to explore ideas without any pressure. He also mentions that the department has been very tolerant with coursework requirements. “This has allowed me to customize my education the way I saw fit and ensure that my coursework complemented my research. I have been exposed to internships, collaborations, and people who are passionate about my field. Overall the experience with the AEM department has been outstanding and something I will cherish forever.”