Woojin Park, faculty member in industrial and systems engineering, recently received a grant in excess of $110,000 from Hyundai American Technical Center, Inc. for the project, "Defining Optimal Driving Postures of U.S. Drivers by Body Type." In many cars, drivers with certain body types have difficulty finding comfortable interior settings, such as seat position, steering wheel position and gearshift location. Park says this is due to body dimensions and preferred driving postures not considered during the design process, resulting in musculoskeletal symptoms, decreased driving performance and reduction in sales for the manufacturer. Park’s project will explore car interior design models that accommodate individuals of different body sizes, including large drivers. It will also help evaluate vehicles in terms of drivers who sit in their preferred postures and their interior settings, as well as identify a "size-friendly" design and "size-neutral" vehicle interiors.
Vortices are produced by all airplanes and missiles during lift, which is necessary for flight. These vortices can cause problems with vehicle control, such as guided missiles used during extreme maneuvers, which results in unstable air flow over a missile. In addition, unsteady aerodynamic loads can create unstable missile behavior and cause a missile to miss its target. Aerospace engineering graduate student Hayden Moore and faculty member Anwar Ahmed are using the department’s low-speed, closed-return wind and water tunnels to investigate the complex flow fields of slender missile models that incorporate this flow control mechanism. A new concept is being tested on slender missile models provided by the U.S. Army’s Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) to reduce vortex-induced flow instability. The concept involves using a mechanism that allows free rotation of a missile’s nosecone. It also involves the missile’s fins, which would be deployed to neutralize the effects of unsteady forces on vortices in spatially fixed locations, improving the stability and trajectory of the missile.
The Department of Biosystems Engineering recently received a $4.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to upgrade laboratories in the Tom Corley Building Annex, constructed in 1948. The renovated 23,000-square-foot facility will allow Auburn to increase its research into bioenergy and bioproducts engineering, ecological engineering, food safety engineering, biosystems automation and best management technologies. The labs will also enable Auburn to expand its new graduate degree programs in the department. The grant is funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. An additional $1.4 million is being provided by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, bringing the total renovation cost to $6 million. Completion is expected in late 2012..
Many of the solvents, lubricants, heat transfer fluids and coatings used by manufacturing industries are likely to be replaced within the next 10 years due to strict environmental policies that demand the development of new chemical products with minimal to no environmental impact. Mario Eden, Joe T. and Billie Carole McMillian professor in chemical engineering, is leading a research group to develop computer-aided tools and algorithms that facilitate the design of chemical structures with certain physical properties. Many specialty chemicals, biochemicals, pharmaceutical products and plastics may be produced only in small quantities and have a limited shelf life, making it critical to reduce the development time of new quality products. Eden’s work will make it possible to evaluate the effects of altered molecular configurations or atomic arrangements in seconds, instead of having to experimentally synthesize a new compound and test its performance. The project will enable the rapid generation of molecules to be investigated experimentally, limiting time- and cost-intensive experiments.
The increase in terrorist attacks throughout the past decade, along with nightly news images from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, have greatly heightened awareness of the need for technologies that better protect us at home and abroad. James Davidson, associate professor in civil engineering, received more than $100,000 from the National Science Foundation in August for the project, “Development of a Blast and Ballistic Resistant Precast Concrete Armored Wall System," to develop walls capable of providing anti-terrorism protection and energy efficiency, while maintaining cost effectiveness. The research will combine techniques used in the precast concrete sandwich wall industry with recent developments in construction materials and reinforcement strategies. It will create protection systems that can be readily incorporated into domestic and international building construction applications, and will expand ongoing studies on cement-based, insulated wall systems conducted by engineering organizations and government laboratories. Davidson’s work was recently featured in the Birmingham Science News Examiner.
Hari Narayanan and Dean Hendrix, faculty members in computer science and software engineering, recently received an $800,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to lead a consortium of three universities working to implement a studio-based learning (SBL) approach to teach computing to undergraduates across the nation. The approach encourages students to learn collaboratively while solving complex design problems. During the next two years, the research team, which includes Auburn graduate students Prateek Hejmady and Sundeep Myneni, as well as computing and education faculty from Washington State University and the University of Hawaii, will oversee the implementation and evaluation of SBL at 16 institutions in eight states.
Shiwen Mao, faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was recently honored with a $400,000 CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for the project, "Towards Rich Multimedia Experience in Emerging Cognitive Radio Networks." The award will be instrumental in developing and enhancing an integrated research and education program in the area of cognitive radio networks at Auburn. Mao’s project will serve a critical need by enabling video communications in emerging cognitive radio networks for commercial and mission-critical applications. Open source software, a cognitive radio video test bed and experimental data will be distributed in the wireless community. Research outcomes will include integration with course development and textbook writing, involvement of graduate and undergraduate students in cutting-edge research and the promotion of diversity and outreach to K–12 students.
Auburn’s materials engineering program recently donated an X-ray diffraction system to the physics department at the Alabama School of Math and Science (ASMS), located in Mobile. Representatives from ASMS, including Don Wheeler and Garvin Wattuhewa, visited Auburn’s campus to accept the gift. Researchers in materials engineering received a new system through a National Science Foundation grant led by Polymer and Fiber Xinyu Zhang, faculty member in polymer and fiber engineering, recently received a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for the project, "Collaborative Research: Geopolymeric Nanocomposite, A Next Generation Material for Infrastructure Sustainability." Zhang and his team will study carbon nanotube growth on various surfaces to develop inexpensive and high-performing nanocomposites that can be used in construction materials, inorganic adhesives and resins, as well as sensing elements in intelligent structures for the aerospace and automotive industries. faculty member Z.Y. Cheng, principal investigator for the project. The department’s new system is developed by Bruker AXS, a German company that designs and manufactures analytical X-ray systems for elemental analysis, materials research and structural investigations. The machine will expand the department’s research capabilities, as well as benefit students and researchers at Auburn’s Detection and Food Safety Center.
Xinyu Zhang, faculty member in polymer and fiber engineering, recently received a $150,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for the project, "Collaborative Research: Geopolymeric Nanocomposite, A Next Generation Material for Infrastructure Sustainability." Zhang and his team will study carbon nanotube growth on various surfaces to develop inexpensive and high-performing nanocomposites that can be used in construction materials, inorganic adhesives and resins, as well as sensing elements in intelligent structures for the aerospace and automotive industries.