AME Alumni Spotlight: Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D.

Choudhuri2Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., was recently awarded a $5 million grant from NASA to develop the next generation of methane-based rocket engines. These said rocket engines will be used for in-space propulsion, ascent and descent engines for Mars and lunar landers. The advancement of the methane rocket engines is identified as a critically enabling technology in the NASA Space Technology Roadmap.

Choudhuri is a graduate of the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma. He received degrees in mechanical engineering graduating in 1997 with his M.S. and 2000 with his Ph.D. working under mentorship of AME Professor S.R. Gollahalli, Ph.D. Choudhuri began working at The University of Texas at El Paso in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2001 where he is the chair and professor of the department and Mr. and Mrs. MacIntosh Murchison Chair II in Engineering. He is also the Director of the Center for Space Exploration Technology Research (cSETR).

“Among nearly 100 graduate students I have mentored, Ahsan certainly ranks very high,” said Gollahalli. “His motivation, focus, energy level and drive to succeed were unparalleled.”

With Choudhuri’s primary research efforts focused on propulsion technologies for next generation space missions and energy technologies for a low carbon future, Choudhuri has a broad range of federal and industry funded projects. Most of his research is conducted in the cSETR including the latest project funded by NASA for the development of methane-based rocket engines.

When Choudhuri first began working at UTEP, there was not a space engineering based program nor was there such research being conducted. Under his direction, the cSETR is now one of the top research groups in the nation focused on space exploration and technology. The cSETR has formed partnerships with organizations such as NASA Johnson Space Center, Marshall Space Flight Center and Glenn Research Center, just to name a few.

“Over the last five years, UTEP rocket propulsion research infrastructure has grown exponentially,” Choudhuri said. “This grant attests to the national preeminence of cSETR’s research and education programs. There is already a significant interest to utilize this region for commercial space exploration purposes, and we are placing ourselves as the strategic lead for propulsion research capabilities in the area.”

Each year the cSETR focuses on training over 60 undergraduate and graduate students in space and energy engineering education and research. Following graduation, many of the students begin their careers at NASA Johnson Space Center or other cSETR partners.

As an alumni, Choudhuri says his time at AME played a role in his successful career.

“OU played a big part in my career thus far. If I didn’t have a chance to work under Dr. Gollahalli’s mentorship, none of this would have been possible,” Choudhuri said. “I received a high quality education at AME as well as high quality research training working in Dr. Gollahalli’s Combustion and Flame Dynamics Lab.”

As for Choudhuri’s future goals, he hopes to continue his work and research in the cSETR by making changes for future generations in the country to continue advancements in space technology while growing diversity in the workforce.

Lastly, Choudhuri leaves some advice for our current undergraduate and graduate students beginning their careers.

“You can go where you want to go, as long as you aspire to be there,” Choudhuri said. “Aspirations combined with hard work and commitment will get you there.”

Students Present at ASEE Conference

During the week of June 14, 2015, several AME students presented papers at the annual conference for American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) in Seattle, Washington. The ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition is the only conference dedicated to all disciplines of engineering education. It is committed to fostering the exchange of ideas, enhancing teaching methods and curriculum, and providing prime networking opportunities for engineering and technology education stakeholders such as deans, faculty members and industry and government representatives.

ASEE AME Attendees

Pictured from left to right: Madhumitha Ramachandran, M.S. student in industrial and systems engineering; Austin Burrus, senior in mechanical engineering; Dr. Diana Bairaktarova, College of Engineering Assistant Professor; Othman Bawareth, senior in mechanical engineering; and Nooshin Nassr, Ph.D. student in general engineering.

On Monday, June 15th, Ramachandran and Bawareth presented their paper, “Differences in Ethical Decision-Making between Experts and Novices,” in the Engineering Ethics Division. Bairaktarova said they did an excellent job, and she is so proud of them.

Austin Burrus will present today, June 16th. His paper is titled, “The Effect of Multilevel Examples,” which is in the Mechanical Engineering Division and the Thermodynamics, Fluids and Heat Transfer Session.

Nassr will be also present her paper today with Bairaktarova titled, “Special Skills Development in Engineering Students: Identifying Instructional Tools to Incorporate into Existing Curricula,” in the First-Year Program Divisions, Hands-on Projects and Spatial Skills.

Click here for more information about the ASEE Conference.

GSC’s End of the Year Events

As the end of the school year came to a close, the AME Graduate Student Community ended it with a bang. They hosted several events at the end of the semester to boost morale during an overwhelmingly busy time of year with finals, project deadlines, approaching internships and graduation.

They held an afternoon of relaxation and yoga techniques led by Amber Kapoor followed by lunch and thanking those graduate students who hosted a seminar during the spring 2015 semester.


Graduate students who hosted a seminar include Mohammad Imran, Mahyar Pourghasemi, Amber Kapoor, Lucas Balmer, Mortaza Saeidi, Maya Pishvar, Mani Razi (not pictured) and Anna Masters (not pictured).

GSC also held a picnic at Reaves Park to enjoy food, treats, time together and getting to know one another’s family and friends.



Lastly, GSC took a trip to RedPin Bowling Lounge in Oklahoma City for a weekend outing and some friendly games of bowling.


AME’s GSC had a very active year with many new and successful events. We look forward to seeing what next year will bring the group!