Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Research Overview

Mechanical and aerospace engineering facilities include laboratories for energy research, fluid mechanics and aerodynamics, combustion and propulsion, metallurgy and solid mechanics, system dynamics and control, instrumentation and applied laser research, computer-aided design and computational research. Other laboratories around the campus can also be used by mechanical engineering graduate students performing advanced research.

Funded research activities of mechanical and aerospace engineer­ing faculty have recently included studies of efficient heat transfer/insulation mechanisms in building environments, advanced HVAC and fuel cell systems, integration of renewable energy sources into residential and utility applications, computation of radiative transport, computational mechanics with emphasis on nano-devices and damage mechanisms in laminated composite structures, development of experimental techniques for mechanical behavior of advanced materials systems, biomechanics, laser applications in bioengineering, turbulent boundary-layer structure, condition monitoring and fault diagnosis in rotating machinery and turbulent transport of moisture contained in air streams. Other studies have involved combustion in porous media, novel spatial and spherical mechanisms for part-orienting tasks, design and control of mobile robots, response of occupants in automobile collisions, smart composite structures with embedded sensors and optimization of composites. Research projects have been variously supported through grants from NASA, National Science Foundation, Defense Nuclear Agency, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Edith Bush Charitable Foundation, Florida Solar Energy Center, Florida Space Grant Consortium, Department of Energy and a number of industrial affiliations.

Laboratories include the Robotics and Spatial Systems Laboratory (RSSL); Laser, Optics and Instrumentation Laboratory (LOIL); Fluid Dynamics Laboratory and the Aerospace Structures Laboratory. RSSL is equipped with several industrial robots as well as a state-of-the-art autonomous mobile robot. In LOIL, the current technologies in continuous wave and short-pulse lasers and optics are used to develop new techniques for measuring and characterizing material properties for biomedical and material processing applications. The Fluid Dynamics Laboratory features a low-speed, low-turbulence wind tunnel of open-return type, with a square test section 0.535 m on a side and 1.6 m long. The speed range is from zero to 42 m/s. The mean turbulence level is a few hundredths of one percent at the lowest tunnel speeds. The Aerospace Structures Laboratory features a drop-tower for impact testing of structures and materials. This laboratory also has a shaker table for the vibration testing of structures. There are also ovens, vacuum pumps and other paraphernalia needed for the custom preparation of material specimens from advanced composite materials.

The Human-Centered Design Institute (HCDi) members are faculty, permanent and visiting research scientists, and graduate students. They are conducting research in the following areas: cognitive engineering, advanced interaction media, complexity Analysis in Human-Centered design, life-critical systems, human-centered organization design and management, and modeling and simulation.

In addition to journal papers and conference proceedings coming from the MAE faculty research efforts, a number of patents are at various stages of development. MAE faculty continue to implement new experiments in our teaching/research laboratories. These laboratories include the following: