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AEM grad students receive fellowships from NASA, DOE

Three AEM graduate students recently received prestigious national fellowships. Jason Bender received the Department of Energy’s Computational Science Graduate Fellowship (DOE CSGF), and Byron Edgar and Eric Stern received NASA Science and Technology Research Fellowships (NSTRF).

Bender’s research focuses on improving chemical models for computational fluid dynamics (CFD) of high-temperature hypersonic flows. He plans to use models primarily grounded in CFD, but also collaborate with experts in computational chemistry and molecular dynamics. Currently there are few links between the CFD and computational chemistry communities. Bender’s faculty adviser is Professor Graham Candler.

“I’ve really been blown away by the benefits of it,” Bender said. “For one, the financial support is great, but I think what’s more important is the connections it opens up to scientists in the Department of Energy, professional contacts there, and avenues for future research as I look to the future. It’s a really great program, I can’t say enough about it, and I’ve only just started getting involved with it.”

Edgar’s research project involves melding together two methods of solving real gas flows – the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) continuum method and a method using direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) for solving discrete gas equations for fluid flow. The goal is to develop consistency between the two methods to more accurately model real gas flows. Edgar’s faculty adviser is Professor Tom Schwartzentruber.

“With this fellowship, they really want you to make use of NASA’s resources. They want the problem solved, but they also want to develop me as an engineer,” Edgar said. “It’s fantastic to have the type of experience that NASA has behind it – decades and decades and decades of space experience and space knowledge and fundamental research – and have all that pouring into me as a student.”

Stern’s research deals with ablation modeling. As a re-entry vehicle is descending, its heat shield is burned off to remove the heat load from the vehicle. Stern seeks improve the accuracy and efficiency in modeling this complicated process. Stern’s faculty adviser is Professor Graham Candler. His NASA mentor is also a former student of Professor Candler’s.

“I’ve always loved NASA, and I’ve loved space science since I was a kid. It’s always been a dream of mine to work at NASA,” Stern said. “I decided to study AEM because I wanted the opportunity to work on space vehicles and things like that. That’s what makes this fellowship such a great honor.”

The Department of Energy established the Computational Science Graduate Fellowship twenty years ago as part of an effort to address the shortage of computational scientists in the US. The DOE CSGF provides up to four years of support for graduate study in a scientific or engineering discipline, computer science, or applied mathematics. The fellowship pays all tuition and fees and includes research and conference travel allowances as well as a stipend. The DOE also hosts an annual conference for the fellows. Eighteen students were granted the fellowship this year out of the 628-student application pool.

This is the inaugural year of the NASA Science and Technology Research Fellowship. The purpose of this fellowship is to help find and develop a pipeline of engineers and scientists to help improve US competitiveness in space. One of the goals of the fellowship is the development of “game-changing” technologies, and the application included a 5-page research proposal. The fellowship includes tuition support and a stipend and matches each recipient with a career mentor at NASA. Fellowship recipients also spend summers at NASA to continue and further develop their research. Eighty-one students were granted fellowships nationally.

Last Modified: Monday, 09-Jan-2012 10:17:48 CST -- this is in International Standard Date and Time Notation