Bergey Aerospace “COUGAR” First Flight

bergey-aerospace-cougar-ame On July 14, 2017, the Bergey Aerospace BA-14-001 “COUGAR” conducted its first flight from the local Max Westheimer airport marking the start of its flight test program, and the continuation of a project that has been with the University of Oklahoma’s College of Engineering School of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering for nearly two decades.

Well-known as one of the original designers of the Piper Cherokee, retired AME professor and president of Bergey Aerospace, Karl H. Bergey, first envisioned the high-cruise-speed, 4-seat, propeller-driven aircraft in the 1990’s as an enhanced Piper Arrow capable of a true 200 mph or greater cruise speed. He solicited the help of OU engineering students over the years to complete the design, construction and now test flights of the aircraft.


According to Jawanza Bassue, volunteering project engineer and 2017 OU AME M.S. graduate, “The COUGAR has and continues to be a teaching tool for Oklahoma’s students – not just at the OU College of Engineering but, for life-long-learners (including OKC MetroTech Aviation Campus students) who have volunteered their time and efforts to see the aircraft to this point – I thank them all for what we’ve done together.” He recognizes the recent contributions of Jet Black Machine, Quality Aircraft Accessories, the FAA (especially the contributions of OU AME Board Member and  Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center Director Michelle Coppedge), the OU Information Technology Department and the School of Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering. “It’s my hope that the College of Engineering will find more great ways for our students to benefit from having this platform available. I’m interested in hearing what the OU COE community has in mind for continued student involvement in this project – true course credit for flight test engineering-related activities and the opportunity to build another aircraft are all entirely possible. It’s not everyday students and volunteers get to take some credit for getting a 3000 lb, 35 ft wide aircraft airborne and we should be very proud of that.”


The aircraft was displayed at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) fly-in September 8-9 in Norman at the Max Westheimer Airport – an event that was open to the public and drew thousands of aviation enthusiasts as well as other airshows from across the Nation. For updates and information follow the Bergey Aerospace Facebook page or visit

Written by: Jawanza Bassue

Graduate Admission Information

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:

Rising From the Ashes: AME Professor’s Flame Method is a Game Changer for Nano Materials Research

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.


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.


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.