Shell Fall Festival and AME Student Organization Opportunities

Last Friday, we had the Shell Fall Festival at the Engineering quad where students had the opportunity to learn more about the different student organizations within AME and also get advice on how to thrive as an Aerospace or Mechanical Engineering major. One of the highlights included the dunk booth where students got to dunk their professors into the water tank! Here are some highlights and the different organizations to get involved with.

AIAA – American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

A community of Aerospace Engineering students working with the governement, industry, and acedemia to achieve goals for the school and peers.


AMSE – American Society of Mechanical Engineers


Boomer Rocket Team

Partake in competions on local and national levels, offer opportunties to students to explore Aerospace and other STEM opportinties not in the classroom, and have fun with students in your field!


Crimson Skies Design Build Fly

Design, fabricate, and test an R/C aircraft for various competitions.


Graduate Student Community (GSC)

Made up of graduate students at AME to spotlight their work and research.


Sooner Off Road (SOR)

Student competition team that builds off road racing cars and attends competitions each year.


Sooner Powered Vehicle (SPV)

Compete in challenges with the OU team using human powered vehicles.


Sooner Racing Team (SRT)

Compete in events across the US with OU while developing a Formula SAE race car.

Engineering Fraternaties:

Pi Tau Sigma – National Mechanical Engineering Honor Society

Sigma Gamma Tau – National Aerospace Engineering Honor Society

Student Spotlight: Internship with the Army Research Lab

Blake Anderson is a first year Masters student in Aerospace engineering and had the opportunity to work at the Army Research Lab for the Autonomous Systems Division in Aberdeen, Maryland. He was selected as one of the top 8 undergraduate student interns among the six directorates of the Army Research Lab.  Blake was recognized with other selected graduate and undergraduate students working as intern at ARL from all over the country.

Blake explained how it was his second summer to work for the ARL and was an extremely valuable opportunity to work with experienced researchers on cutting edge projects. The experienced arrose directly from a collaboration with Dr. L’Afflitto’s lab at OU, where they worked together on designing advanced autopilots for small flying vehicles. Dr. L’Afflitto said “with his exceptional work, he has brought a relevant contribution to my research partners at ARL, my lab, and AME in general”. During his internship, the ARL let Blake sit in on meetings, provided travel assitance to attend conferences, and even provided tours to see other research work at ARL. Blake says “It was a great experience to see how a national lab operates, and I highly recommend any student interested in research to apply for similar internships.”

Blake works at the Advanced Control Systems Lab (ACSL) at OU, which is part of a big collaboration with the Army Research Lab and several other universities called the Robotics Collaborative Technology Alliance (RCTA). This summer, he attended a huge conference in Philadelphia where research by leading universities such as MIT and CalTech was presented. Blake said it was awesome to see OU on the same stage as these groups.

He wants to pursue applied research when he graduates. Working alongside experienced researches at a top national lab has given him the experience and motavation to keep pursuing his goal. ARL taught him how to work on challenging and innovative projects while collaborating with people from other groups who had differenet background and skill sets.


AME faculty startup receives nearly $1M in funding from DoD

A Norman based startup company, Next Frontier LLC, received nearly a million dollars in funding from US Department of Defense through the STTR program. Next Frontier LLC is focused on developing innovative software relevant to design of next generation hypersonic vehicles. Dr. Prakash Vedula is the Founder and CEO of Next Frontier LLC. He is also a Professor in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at University of Oklahoma (OU). His journey into exploration of high-impact fundamental research and entrepreneurship for the benefit of the local community and the nation at large is sure to inspire other entrepreneurs in the OU community.

Dr. Vedula and his research group pursue high-risk research relevant to fundamental discoveries and innovations in computational algorithms applicable to a broad class of complex systems in nature and engineering. One of the long-term objectives of his research is to enable development of intelligent and energy-efficient complex systems via integration of fundamental knowledge with fast and innovative algorithms for prediction control and sensor fusion for real-time applications.

His recent startup focuses on development of fast and innovative algorithms for prediction of complex flow behavior relevant to hypersonic flows. Product innovations relevant to these algorithms will not only enable efficient design of hypersonic vehicles but will also fill an important need in the context of national security. From recent news and events around the world, it appears that there has been increased emphasis to strengthen the US position in global hypersonic battlespace and Dr. Vedula believes that his company’s product could be a key player in this context.

At a community level, Dr. Vedula believes that there is a great opportunity to make an impact (beyond job creation) in the great state of Oklahoma. He thinks that the environment for entrepreneurship is very promising in Norman. He believes that such an entrepreneurship friendly environment could not have been possible without the visionary efforts of many leaders (and donors) in the university and local community. His company has close collaborations with the OU Gallogly College of Engineering and Tom Love Innovation Hub, Norman Economic Development Coalition and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Engineering dean Tom Landers says “the Gallogly College of Engineering leads the Norman campus in bringing scientific discoveries and technology to our innovation ecosystem through invention disclosures, patents and startups. Daniel Pullin, dean of Michael F. Price College of Business, said “Dr. Vedula’s intellectual leadership, energy, and enthusiasm are emblematic of the growing innovation ecosystem we are creating at the University of Oklahoma. His engagement with the Tom Love Innovation Hub and other collaborators is catalyzing the future economy of Oklahoma and advancing the global competitiveness of the nation.” Tom Wavering, Executive Director of Tom Love Innovation Hub, said “The mission of the Tom Love Innovation Hub is to increase innovation and entrepreneurship and Dr. Vedula is a great example of our model at work. We are so excited for his success and proud to have been a critical resource to help him realize his vision and secure SBIR/STTR funding for Next Frontier, LLC.”

Next Frontier LLC is also part of a business incubator program, Startup 405, operated by the Norman Economic Development Coalition (NEDC). Maureen Hammond, Vice President of NEDC said, “It is exciting to see the results of our joint efforts to cultivate entrepreneurial activity materialize through success stories such as Next Frontier LLC. Dr. Vedula’s leadership and commitment to research and development of his innovative products will have a considerable impact within the state of Oklahoma and nation, yielding job, knowledge and wealth creation.”

The abstract of Phase I award titled “Computational tools for reliable prediction of complex hypersonic flows, reads: In order to enable reliable predictions based on full scale vehicle simulations relevant to high-speed ISR missions, detailed interactions among various nonequilibrium physical phenomena and their coupling to turbulent flow structures, characterized by a broad range of length/time scales, need to be accurately modeled. Although detailed predictions can be obtained using detailed state-to-state kinetics in conjunction with numerical schemes of high order accuracy in space and time, the computational cost associated with it is prohibitively high. The focus of this STTR project is to address some challenges in existing tools for prediction of nonequilibrium laminar hypersonic flows via development of a high-order accurate hypersonic flow code with capabilities for both detailed state-to-state kinetics and reduced order models of state-to-state kinetics based on coarse graining. Novel contributions in this project include: (a) high-fidelity tools based on high-order accurate formulations of hypersonic flow predictions with detailed state kinetics, along with relevant code development and implementation, (b) development and implementation of low/variable fidelity tools based on novel coarse grained models for state-to-state kinetics, (c) development of modules for assessment of performance of reduced order models of state-kinetics and (d) development of criteria for model selection based on local flow and/or thermochemical nonequilibrium conditions.

Alumni Opportunity: Capstone Projects

AME alumni:

We need your help! The Mechanical Engineering Capstone program has grown in size tremendously in recent years, and we are in need of additional industry sponsored projects to support our large student cohort for Spring 2019.


For many years, our capstone program has collaborated with industry sponsors, like you, to provide “real-life” industry projects for our seniors to complete during their final semester in school. These projects allow our students to successfully demonstrate a variety of skills that future employers prize: analysis, design, teamwork and communication skills to name a few. Ideally, the project will feature some elements of a design process and be suited for a team of 3-5 members for a period of 15 weeks. We are also interested in interdisciplinary projects that may involve industrial or electrical engineers as well.
If you believe your company may be able to assist us, please contact Dr. Chris Dalton at

OU students chosen for peace grant to educate women in India on menstrual health

This summer, after being chosen for a $10,000 grant to promote peace, three OU students carried out their project proposal to provide menstrual health education in India.

Senior Pranav Mohan, senior Cindy Belardo and graduate student Abhishek Yadav won United World Colleges’ Davis Project for Peace Grant after forming a proposal to travel to India to educate women about menstrual health. This summer they put the proposal into action with Mohan travelling to villages and schools in Lucknow in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and educating women about menstrual health in areas where it is a taboo subject.

“Menstruation is a topic of taboo and it’s also a topic of shame,” said Mohan. “We wanted to create that friendly environment where women can talk about it. Menstruation is such a thing that it creates a pressure, it creates a boundary around women where they are not able to open up, where they are bounded, so we wanted to break those cages and empower them.”

Yadav said that Mohan and Belardo were very passionate about the subject and his role was to help them do the research to find their main focus point, which was educating women about the menstrual cup.

The lack of education about menstrual health means that women aren’t aware of all their options and it can make menstruation a negative experience for women, said Mohan, a mechanical engineering major. Mohan said the team sees the menstrual cup as the best menstrual health option for many women.

Mohan said that there are a variety of reasons they suggest women use the menstrual cup, including that it lasts up to 12 hours, there’s less of a risk of toxic shock syndrome as there is in tampons, you can use the same cup for 8-10 years, it’s silicone so it molds to your body comfortably and it’s environmentally friendly and cheap.

Belardo, an environmental studies pre-medicine major, was involved the preparation and organization of the project. After the group conducted research, the information they gathered was used to create manuals which they gave to volunteers from the NGO they worked with, Belardo said. They chose to use the volunteers to speak with the women because they felt that it would be easier to hear about menstrual health coming from Indian women they could relate to, she added.

“Basically we were kind of showing the pro’s and con’s of using cloth, that was like the primary use of most of the ladies there, so like what are the good things, bad things, and then also disposable pads,” Belardo said. “Then we also showed the pro’s and con’s of menstrual cups, so we looked at all of them and they could decide from there if they want to try it, so it’s in their hands.”

Mohan said there were about 12 seminars lead by the volunteers, each 2 hour long sessions, reaching around 300 women. Though 300 seems like a small number, he said the women are likely to talk about the menstrual cup with their friends and spread the idea by word-of-mouth.

Mohan said the students bought the menstrual cup in bulk and sold it at a cheaper price to the women, with 138 buying one. One of the volunteers is following up with the women who chose to try the menstrual cup to see if they are experiencing any problems and if they like it, Belardo said.

Other than promoting the menstrual cup, their main purpose was to educate, Belardo said.

“The whole premise of this project is to talk about menstruation and trying to break that taboo, which is here too, like even for me, my own life, I was not comfortable talking about that and especially also in India,” Belardo said. “So that’s our main goal, just to educate. A lot of women don’t even realize what is happening to their body, and to me, that’s a right just to know, it’s such a natural process, you shouldn’t be ashamed, you shouldn’t be embarrassed.”

Article written by Evelyn Scafe

from OUDaily

Launching Rockets in Kansas with Dr. Hays

On August 5th 2018, Dr. Hays’ research group in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering launched two 12.5 ft.-tall, 60+-pound rockets carrying customer payloads in Argonia, Kansas.  Undergraduate aerospace engineering students Alex Speed, Trevor Trevino, Christopher Hughes, William Wadkins and Jarrod Manning successfully built and flew the two rocket systems with assistance from Dr. Hays.


Senior aerospace engineering student Alex Speed obtained the University’s first undergraduate Tripoli Rocket Association Level 3 certification as a result of his successful launch of “Godspeed.”  The second launch of “Spednik” brought OU Aerospace into the supersonic realm by reaching Mach 1.15.  Both rockets successfully delivered customer data from the payload, and were tracked directly to their landing site using Telemega GPS telemetry systems.


The AME department would like to thank our payload customer, the Kansas ‘Kloudbusters,’ and Tulsa TRA prefecture members for their help in making the launch such a success.