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Dept. of Defense grant to further Tuskegee University aerodynamics research

Tuskegee University’s College of Engineering has been selected to receive a $600,000 grant that will allow faculty in multiple departments to study aerodynamics phenomena over a three-year period.

The Department of Defense award will support research efforts by faculty in the university’s Aerospace Science Engineering and Mathematics departments who are conducting cutting-edge research on the complex flow field of slender delta wings at high alpha with vectoring jets. The research team expects the project to yield an advanced understanding of how to control an aircraft by using unconventional techniques, like thrust vectoring, as well as the study of computational aerodynamics techniques.

“The research conducted as part of this grant will help our understanding of the flow field of unconventional aerodynamic configurations — especially for use in the design of unmanned aerial systems,” explained Dr. M. Javed Khan, a professor and head of the Department of Aerospace Science Engineering, who will lead the research effort as the project’s principal investigator.

“Thrust vectoring is an effective technique to achieve higher maneuverability of flight vehicles. However, using this technique influences the aerodynamic characteristics, especially of delta wings at high angles of attack,” he said.

Khan added that the study is a very complex interaction that will allow his research team to determine various factors based on experimental and computational models that study the airflow over the wing of an airplane.

“We will use advanced data analysis techniques to identify the major characteristics of the flow, which will provide a better understanding of the phenomena as well as help in developing efficient computational models of the flow,” said Dr. Chadia Aji, a professor of mathematics who, with Dr. Ovais Khan, an assistant professor of aerospace science engineering, will serve as a co-principal investigator.

Ovais Khan stated that numerical simulation of such complex flow fields is computationally intensive. He added that various super-computing facilities would be utilized to develop the computational models.

Javed Khan noted that the grant also will support the university’s efforts to recruit and retain undergraduate and graduate students interested in these STEM fields — and provide them with hands-on research experience.

“This grant provides us with the opportunity to recruit more graduate students and make our students more competitive as they prepare to enter into high-demand career fields. It also allows our faculty to be involved in the latest research,” he said. “In addition, this project will provide undergraduate students with research experiences in the areas of experimental and computational aerodynamics, as well as advanced data analysis techniques.”