AME student conducting research

AME Ph.D. student Moien Farmahini-Farahani is helping advance research in the field of nanomaterials.

The School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at The University of Oklahoma is currently accepting applications for graduate admission in Fall 2013.

Applications for both M.S. and Ph.D candidates are welcome. M.S. And Ph.D degrees are offered in both Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The School has various funding opportunities available for highly qualified applicants including faculty-sponsored research assistant positions and departmental-sponsored teaching assistant positions. Applicants to the Doctoral program who are US citizens have additional fellowship opportunities including the Robert Hughes Centennial Fellowship Award which is sponsored by The University of Oklahoma College of Engineering. The deadline for Fall 2013 admission is Jan. 15, 2013.

For more information please contact Dr. Peter Attar.

The faculty in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering conduct sponsored research which addresses fundamental and applied Aerospace and Mechanical engineering problems in many different areas. The faculty maintain strong connections with industry, government and academia–providing ample opportunities for graduate students to pursue research at the forefront of their field, and develop career-relevant experience. For details on the various research areas please visit the School’s website: www.ame.ou.edu.

Congratulations to AME faculty members who were promoted and who received tenure!

Peter Attar, Ph.D. Aerospace Engineering
Promoted to associate professor and received tenure

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilson Merchán-Merchán, Ph.D. – Mechanical Engineering
Promoted to associate professor and received tenure

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrinal Saha, Ph.D. – Mechanical Engineering
Promoted to associate professor and received tenure

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professor – Zahed Siddique, Ph.D. – Mechanical Engineering
Promoted to full professor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Associate Professor – Prakash Vedula, Ph.D. – Aerospace Engineering
Promoted to associate professor and received tenure

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brad PerryAME spring 2012 mechanical engineering graduate Bradley Perry from Yukon, Okla., received the prestigious National Science Foundation Research Fellowship.

The fellowship allows Perry to go to any graduate school, and will pay for all tuition and fees, along with a stipend for living expenses.  It also will give him access to travel funds and use of a super computer for research.

Multiple schools recruited Perry, but in the end he chose the University of California at Berkeley.

Perry wants to be an engineering professor, a goal he decided upon after spending time with AME associate professor of Aerospace Engineering, Peter Attar.

“I started doing undergraduate research for Dr. Attar.  He really cares about his students.  He cares about them understanding the theory behind the research.  I became a better researcher under Dr. Attar, and I realized I wanted to be like him and understand the theory behind everything I do,” said Perry.

While an AME student, Perry was also an active member of the Sooner Off Road student competition team.

Nanomaterials are necessities of modern life.  They can be strong, firm and ductile at high temperatures.  They are wear-, erosion-, and corrosion-resistant, and are chemically active.  They make planes simultaneously lighter and stronger, roofs more weather resistant, and they have applications in fields as diverse as medicine and clean energy.

Transition metal oxides are particularly in-demand nanomaterials.  Engineers design these microscopic materials to contain specific electronic and mechanical properties.  TMOs designed with cavities and platelets can be filled with liquid or nanomaterials.  TMOs with microscopic rods and wires provide increased stability.

TMOs have

the potential to become the building blocks of our modern world.

Increased demand has highlighted a flaw in the creation of TMOs.  The current growth process, Chemical Vapor Deposition, is a tedious, multi-step batch process that can take from a few hours to a few days to complete.  Time, expense and the subsequent low supply have made TMOs  impractical on a large scale.

But a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering has discovered how to create TMOs faster.

Merchan-Merchan

Moien Farmahini, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering, runs experiments with Merchán-Merchán in the lab on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus.

Turning Up the Heat

AME associate professor of mechanical engineering Wilson Merchán-Merchán did not set out to discover a new process for synthesizing TMOs.

After previous success using an oxygen-enriched flame to synthesize common nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes, he and his team decided to try using the same method to create a new form of carbon structure.  Instead of synthesizing the nanomaterials they sought to grow, they stumbled upon a new method of creating unique 1-D and 3-D TMOs.

The development of the high-rate synthesis method of TMOs is a game changer in nanomaterials research.  It will fuel new applications and create a demand for large volumes of these nanomaterials.
Funded by generous multi-year grants from the National Science Foundation, Merchán-Merchán and his research affiliates at OU, as well as Alexei Saveliev, Ph.D., at North Carolina State University, expose bulk transition metals to the hottest parts of an oxygen-enriched flame.  From that reaction, they instantaneously synthesize high-demand transition metal-oxides.

In this single-step process, Merchán-Merchán is doing in seconds what had taken days.

New Method Means More Applications

Inexpensive and quick growth of TMOs means a better chance for large-scale synthesis and eventual common use in the marketplace.  The potential for increased supply led to increased experimentation on the capacity of TMOs.  The results are staggering in both their effectiveness and their diverse range of applications.

“Recently, one-dimensional TMO naonostructures have attracted tremendous attention due to their applications in optics, medicine and electrons,” Merchán-Merchán explained.  “For instance, channel structures contain slender, prismatic and completely hollow cavities, and can be used in medical applications for drug delivery.”

Recently, Merchán-Merchán and his team coated the surface of solar panels with flame synthesized W-oxide nanorods.   The result was a 5-percent increase in the solar panel’s efficiency, a large gain, considering solar panels’ notoriously low-efficiency rating of 15 to 20 percent.

With endless applications and a new horizon of possibilities, Merchán-Merchán’s research into TMOs is still in its infancy.

flame

Moien Farmahini exposes a transition metal to a flame to rapidly create transition metal oxides.

Fanning the Flame

Merchán-Merchán’s research has put him on the map and may change the way everything from solar panels to medicines and airplanes are designed.  But he also has worked diligently to be an excellent teacher.

Merchán-Merchán decided to become a professor during his junior year of college.  Alexander Fridman, his thermodynamics professor, allowed him to work on a plasma project.

“That’s when I fell in love with research,” he said.

Opportunities to work with students as a graduate teaching assistant showed him he could have the best of both worlds as a professor – he could research and teach.

Merchán-Merchán works closely with graduate students in his research laboratory.  Every semester he provides research opportunities to a small number of undergraduate students though OU’s Undergraduate Research and Guided Individual Studies course.  He also involves a select group of local high school students in research projects in the summer and after school.  Some of his students are supported to conduct research through National Science Foundation awards.

Merchán-Merchán sees his efforts as a way to encourage top students to pursue an engineering career.

“Recent studies have suggested that student-faculty interactions outside the classroom can be an important factor in a student’s decision to enroll in an advanced science and engineering program as well as to prepare them for successful careers in industry,” Merchán-Merchán explained.

Merchán-Merchán’s research will have profound implications for the future, as products equipped with TMOs eventually become commonplace in the marketplace.  His passion for teaching will also reach far into the future.  Whether Merchán-Merchán’s students go on to become engineers or professors or even if they venture into entirely different fields, just like the products enhanced by TMOs, they will be strengthened.

Suzi Skinner

Student services coordinator Suzi Skinner retired after nearly 12 years with the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.  She helped thousands of students during her time at AME.

“The high point of my career has been interacting with students and seeing them grow from being freshman to graduates,” she said.

Skinner plans on making trips to see her grandchild and spending time with her family.

We gave members of the AME Facebook Fan Page an opportunity to say a few departing words to Suzi.  Below are some of the comments:

  • Suzy is really great and helped us in many ways which is really appreciable. We were guided in the right directions by her. Love you Suzi. You will be missed for sure. You are awesome. – Pratyush
  • Thank you Suzi for all that you have done. You’ve helped so many of us during our time at OU. Your hard work, dedication and kindness have been noticed by many. You will definitely be missed.  – Christopher
  • Suzi made me feel so comfortable from my first day on campus. It was always a joy to stop by the office for a chat or a quick hello. If I needed help with anything, Suzi was the first person I’d ask. Enjoy retirement, sweet lady! You’ve earned it.  – Ada
  • Noo Suzi!!! We almost made it to the end together!! Getting my undergrad last year and now being one semester away from my master, def couldn’t have done it without your wonderful guidance and honest advice!! Thanks a million and I hope to come around soon before I leave! If you have a question always stop to see Suzi!! 🙂 – Diego

Truer words could not be said about Suzi and her dedication to AME.  Suzi’s successor is Kate O’Brien.

MartinezMechanical Engineering student Moises Martinez was named the 2011-2012 Outstanding Senior for the College of Engineering. He served as a representative of the College of Engineering Class of 2012 at Commencement and Convocation ceremonies in May.

Coming to the University of Oklahoma from Mustang, Okla., Moises has contributed his time and leadership to a variety of campus and community organizations, including the Multicultural Engineering Program, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Dean’s Leadership Class, and The Big Event. Among his awards, he was cited as a National Hispanic Scholar, ConocoPhillips Spirit Scholar, and Outstanding Junior in Mechanical Engineering, and he was awarded the Dean’s Advisory Board on Diversity Wayne Steen Scholarship.  He is now employed with Shell.

Dave BertDavid Bert, AME alumnus and chairman of the AME Board of Advisors, was inducted into the College of Engineering’s Distinguished Graduates Society at the college’s Convocation Ceremony on May 12, 2012 in Lloyd Noble Center.

Bert graduated with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from OU in 1985. In 1993, he received his master of science degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Southern California. He is a licensed professional engineer.

He is vice president of Drilling-Eastern Division for Chesapeake Energy Corp. in Oklahoma City.

AME Director Farrokh Mistree, Ward Winer, and AME students Matt Summersgil and Mason Kuehler during Dr. Winer’s visit to campus.

On April 11, Ward O. Winer presented the Charles W. Bert Distinguished Lecture.  In his address, Georgia Tech Mechanical Engineering: THEN, NOW and LESSONS LEARNED, he chronicled the ways he helped advance the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering from a regional engineering school to the research institution it today during his tenure as the school’s chair from 1988 through 2007.

Winer’s lecture was attended by faculty, students and administration from throughout the College of Engineering.

Professor Charles W. Bert retired from the University of Oklahoma after serving 41 years as a faculty member in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.  In recognition of his distinguished career, the Charles W. Bert School Lecture Series was established to feature outstanding professors and researchers lecturing on cutting-edge topics in aerospace and mechanical engineering.

This year brings exciting changes to the AME family.

We have two new staff members.  Rebecca Norris, my new assistant, has taken the position held by Lawana Dillard for nearly 15 years.  Rebecca brings a wealth of experience and interests.  Lawana has taken a new job with the university and we wish her well.  Kate O’Brien is the new student services coordinator.  She worked in a similar position at the OU School of Dance for many years and is married to an AME alumnus.  She replaces Suzi Skinner, who is riding off into the sunset with her husband on their motorcycles as they both embrace the new adventure of retirement.

This year also ushers in a new opportunity for AME students and partnering companies.

AME has begun a new program called the 21st Century Co-Op, a five-year B.S./M.S. degree program in mechanical engineering that unites an AME education with interwoven internships, mentorship and special projects with one company for three years of a student’s degree.

In addition to core courses in mechanical engineering, the curriculum includes customized courses jointly offered by company engineers and faculty during summer internships, a senior capstone experience and graduate theses that are of relevance to the sponsoring company, and graduate cross-disciplinary courses.

This program overcomes many of the problems associated with Co-Ops, mainly the length of education.  Students participating in this program should still graduate with a joint B.S./M.S. degree in five years.

By participating in this program, 21st Century Co-Op Scholars gain technical competencies and soft skills that are relevant to the sponsoring company.  A company that sponsors a 21st Century Co-Op has the opportunity to educate and hire a team of engineers who are well prepared to hit the road running.

If you are interested in learning more about joining the 21st Century Co-Op program, please contact me.  I an always be reached at (405) 306-7309 or
farrokh.mistree@ou.edu.

Thank you for being a part of the AME family.  I hope you enjoy learning about the students, faculty and research that makes AME great.

Positive Thoughts,

Farrokh Mistree, Ph.D.
Director

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