The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is privileged to have a vibrant research program, with research expenditures exceed $7 million annually. The research program supports large MS and Ph.D. student populations of more that 150 students, most of which are supported through graduate research assistantships.
This page provides links to active research projects awarded to faculty in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Because of the large number of projects listed, they are subdivided into research areas. Sometimes a project may be related to more than one area but the listing is not repeated. The three primary focus areas are:
- Shale Gas Utilization
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Guidance, Navigation, and Controls
Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics
A variety of courses and facilities support graduate research in the areas of aerodynamics and fluid mechanics. Laboratories are located in the Engineering Sciences Building, with separate wind tunnel and wind turbine facilities in adjoining buildings and remote sites. Flow facilities include instrumented subsonic and supersonic wind tunnels, shock tubes, and several flow loops mainly used for research in gas- solid and density stratified flows. Available instrumentation includes eight channels of hot wire/film anemometry, two single-component and one three-component laser Doppler velocimeter (LDV) systems. A hydraulic facility is also available for flow metering studies and includes a calibration system and pressure transmitters. A significant portion of the current activity involves numerical solutions to flow problems and is supported by a computing facility dedicated to graduate research.
Although the faculty background and interests in the areas of aerodynamics fluid mechanism are broad, recent research has been concentrated on problems in multiphase and density-stratified flows, low-speed aerodynamics, shock phenomena in two-phase systems, flow in microgravity, boundary layer control and high-speed aerodynamics. These research areas include topics such as fluidized bed combustion, aerosol sampling, flow metering, flow distribution systems, numerical solutions to gas-solid flows, and fluid- particle turbulence interactions, including deposition on solid surfaces. The low-speed aerodynamics work is related to the design of vertical axis wind turbines and STOL airfoils. The research in high-speed aerodynamics deals with viscous-inviscid interactions in transonic, supersonic, and hypersonic flow.
Alternative Fuels, Engines, and Emissions
The Department has an active research program in internal combustion (IC) engines that includes large research programs in alternative fuels, emissions testing and abatement, and innovative engine design.
The MAE Department, in conjunction with other departments in both the College of Engineering and the Health Sciences Center, offers a program in bioengineering culminating in master's and/or Ph.D. degrees. The plan of study for a master's degree requires a minimum of 30 credit hours. This includes at least six hours of bioengineering or medical courses. Students are encouraged to continue toward a Ph.D. by following a plan of study tailored specifically to their research interests. Students whose B.S. degrees are in disciplines other than engineering may be required to complete prerequisite courses.
Areas of research specialization include respiratory and diseased tissue mechanics, orthopedic mechanics, bone growth and fracture, and the application of computer-aided design and microprocessor-based instrumentation to rehabilitation. Research facilities include an aerosol inhalation exposure system, laser-based holographic and moire interferometric equipment, a lung acoustic impedance measurement system, and modern orthopedic, rehabilitation, and computer research laboratories.
Control, Design and Manufacturing Research Projects
The control, design and manufacturing academic area offers instructional and research opportunities for students who are personally challenged to attain the expertise required to design or control the behavior of a system in a dynamic environment. Instructional offerings furnish students with a foundation for developing prototype systems and for improving the performance of existing systems. These offerings provide such emphasis as elastodynamic analysis, computerized design, active control in automated machines, and manufacturing systems engineering.
The research endeavors of its faculty reflect a close association with current industrial-type situations. Faculty have research ongoing in the areas of engine acoustic impedance modeling, the control of energy systems in buildings, concurrent engineering, robotics, artificial intelligence, CAD, process control, microprocessor applications, and computer-aided manufacturing.
Engineering Education and Technology Transfer Research Projects
Research in Engineering Education plays an important role in the development of a better educational environment for our students. Often, Engineering Education Research is linked to our Technology Transfer efforts because student interaction with the industrial sector has a great impact on both students and our industrial partners. Students at both undergraduate and graduate levels have opportunities to participate in these activities through course related activities such as the Capstone Design course "MAE 471/472:Projects with Industry" and through research projects that have components in technology transfer and/or engineering education.
Materials Science and Engineering Research Projects
Materials science and engineering is a broad and multi-disciplinary area. Research in the Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Department focuses on: materials for the efficient generation, conversion, storage and transport of energy; nano-phase materials for sensors, coatings, and devices; fabrication and modeling of high performance polymers and composites; and the mechanical properties of high performance of materials.
Faculty within the department have expertise in synthesis, deposition, modeling and characterization of materials. To support this research the department has a wide range of laboratory and computer facilities. These include:
- Advanced Microscopy Facility
- Thermal Characterization Facility
- Coating Deposition
- Electrochemical & Corrosion Testing
- Particle Size and Surface Area Characterization Facility
- Computing Clusters
- Mechanical Testing Facility
Faculty researching in this area are:
Solid Mechanics, Materials and Structures Research Projects
The area of solid mechanics, materials and structures encompasses the theoretical, numerical, and experimental study of solid bodies, from the local deformations of flexible bodies to the global behavior of structural systems or the accelerated motion of rigid bodies.
The SMMS faculty carries out basic and applied engineering research by using state-of-the-art computational, analytical and experimental techniques. The main research subjects in the SMMS area include fracture mechanics, high temperature materials, superalloys, thin-film /coating mechanics, dynamic simulations and stability of heavy vehicles, damage mechanics and tolerance of composite materials, biomechanics, advanced computational methods, advanced experimental optical and other non-destructive methods for characterizing the thermo-mechanical behavior of materials and structures, both in the laboratory and in the field conditions. Furthermore, the SMMS faculty conducts interdisciplinary research in cooperation with the Departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering, which allows MAE graduate students to pursue studies related to these engineering disciplines. SMMS students have access to a large array of state-of-the-art research facilities that include laboratories (materials, structures, dynamics, photomechanics, microscopy, biomechanics, composite manufacturing, environmental testing, signal processing, transmission and analysis), computers (mainframes, work stations, personal computers, laptops, supercomputers), and shop facilities supported by qualified technicians and modern mechanical and electronic equipment.
Space Flight and Systems Research Projects
The Space Flight and Systems area is a multi-disciplinary research area that lies at the intersection of orbital mechanics, optimization, design theory, and the other traditional aerospace sub-disciplines (e.g. propulsion, controls, structures, etc.). This broad field is concerned with all aspects of the planning, design, fabrication, operation, servicing, and disposal of spacecraft. Research within the MAE Department focuses on orbital mechanics, trajectory optimization, spacecraft design, spacecraft navigation, space robotics, and satellite servicing. Additionally, WVU is home to the state-of-the-art West Virginia Robotic Technology Center that is developing technologies that will enable a servicing spacecraft to grapple a client spacecraft for repair or refueling.
Thermal Sciences Research Projects
The thermal sciences academic area encompasses the fields of thermodynamics, combustion, heat transfer, and power and energy systems. Recent research efforts include topics such as the analysis of fluidized bed combustion, energy analysis of buildings, oscillating jet combustion, alternative fuels testing, internal combustion engine performance and emissions, heat transfer, numerical analysis of thermal systems, deposition on turbine blades, gas turbine engine aerothermal and materials studies and reactor design.
Research facilities include a high-attitude simulation chamber for ablation and wear studies; a fluidized bed combustion laboratory; thermal analyzers; an electrically-heated, natural convection water facility; schlieren systems for flows with varying density; recording thermocouple data-acquisition systems; a water reservoir for thermal stratification studies; an engine research laboratory, and an emissions research laboratory.
Faculty in the West Virginia University (WVU) Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) have approximately 20 years of experience in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) research.
Research Centers coordinate the research activities of several faculty in a focused area of research. This page lists those centers that are housed in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. These centers often involve faculty from other Departments in the College of Engineering and Mineral Resources and from other colleges as well.
Researchers in our Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering's Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines, and Emissions (CAFEE) have built an internationally recognized research program aimed at reducing exhaust emissions and consumption of petroleum-based fuels. CAFEE's focus is on heavy-duty vehicles such as trucks, buses, locomotives, and ships, where improvements have traditionally lagged behind lighter-duty vehicles.
CAFEE has some of the nation's most extensive experience in measuring exhaust emissions from conventionally and alternatively-fueled, heavy-duty vehicles. Founded in 1989, CAFEE conducts approximately $5 million per year in research, with funding from the U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation, and from companies, states and municipalities around the nation.
CAFEE offers the unique ability to travel throughout North America to conduct emissions testing, thanks to its three Transportable Vehicle Emissions Testing Laboratories, including a new low-emissions measurement laboratory.
CIRA is a nationally recognized research center within the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources at West Virginia University. Its charter is to be self-supporting, provide an exceptional graduate educational experience, and develop high-tech engineering solutions for industrial problems that create opportunities that bolster West Virginia and the region's economic standing. CIRA researchers develop new technology, merge diverse technologies into new solutions, and develop new applications for emerging technologies. CIRA's research projects are listed under the area of Control, Design, and Manufacturing.