Supersonic nozzle design

Professor Fred Haan

A converging-diverging nozzle needs to be design for demonstrating supersonic nozzle phenomena. This would involve designing the nozzle and the pressure supply plenum. The nozzle would need to be transparent to accommodate use with a Schlieren compressible flow visualization system (which we already have fabricated).

Tornado simulator data analysis

Professor Fred Haan

A very large database of tornado-induced loads on low-rise structures will be analyzed to develop design guidelines. At present there are no standards for engineers that need to design structures to withstand various classes of tornadoes. This project would attempt to extract underlying physical principles exhibited in the data. The physical issues to be studied include the relative important of the peak versus average wind speeds and the extent of the influence of the strong negative pressure present in the core of the vortex. Insights gained from these studies will guide the development of the standards.

Tornado debris simulation

Professor Fred Haan

Velocity field data from a tornado simulator will be used to simulate the trajectories of various categories of debris (rods/planks, plywood sheets, blunt objects, vehicles) as they are thrown by tornadoes. The intent is to predict the onset velocities required to initiate motion and the speed and distance over which these objects fly after motion commences. These data are vital for the analysis of damage to communities in tornado events.

Particle image velocimetry

Professor Mike Moorhead

Particle image velocimetry (PIV) is a quantitative flow visualization technique used to determine the 2-D/3-D velocity field in a fluid flow.  A digital camera is used to take pictures of particles in the fluid illuminated by a pulsed laser.  The change in position of the particles and time interval between successive images may be used to determine the velocity.  This technique may be used to study flows in a wind tunnel, water channel, or natural environments.  Recent work on this system at Rose-Hulman has involved the study of well-documented flows, such as flow around cylinders and spheres.

Laser Doppler velocimetry

Professor Mike Moorhead

Laser Doppler velocimetry (LDV) is laser-based technique used to determine the velocity of fluid flows at a point.  Two intersecting laser beams are used to create interference fringes in a small measurement volume.  As seed particles move through this region, they reflect light back toward an optical detector.  The frequency of the resulting light flashes and distance between the interference fringes allow for the determination of velocity.  The benefits of this technique include high spatial and temporal resolution, making it ideal for studying phenomena such as turbulence.  The current scope of this work is to develop a demonstration LDV system using existing equipment in the M.E. Dept.

Laser induced fluorescence

Professor Mike Moorhead

Laser induced fluorescence (LIF) may be used as either a qualitative or quantitative flow visualization technique.  A digital camera is used to take pictures of fluorescent dye excited by a laser.  The intensity of the fluorescence may be related to the concentration and/or temperature of the dye.  Recent work on this system at Rose-Hulman has involved the simultaneous measurement of temperature and velocity fields due to natural convection.

Hot-wire anemometry

Professor Mike Moorhead

Constant temperature (hot-wire) anemometry (CTA) is a technique used to measure the velocity of a fluid passing over a probe.  The benefits of this system include high spatial and temporal resolution, making it ideal for studying phenomena such as turbulence.  Recent work on this system at Rose-Hulman has involved studying the velocity boundary layer in laminar and turbulent flows.

Fourier transform infrared analysis of an internal combustion engine

Professor Allen White

Surprisingly little is understood about combustion in an internal combustion engine. Since most molecular species present during combustion are active in the infrared spectrum, it is possible to follow the progress of combustion from reactants (fuel & air) to products (CO2 & Water). We have previously performed time-resolved Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) analysis on an engine fitted with a sapphire cylinder (see related presentation). The results showed the combustion of ethanol and creation of CO2 as a function of time as combustion progressed. The next step is to install a window on a small engine to observe combustion in an actual engine and to vary engine speed, air/fuel ratio, and other parameters and record the impact on combustion progress.

"Shock-plugs" in compressible microflows

Professor Thomas Adams

Shockwaves sometimes appear in compressible flow through converging/diverging channels as nature's way of dealing with a pressure discontinuity. Being approximately one order of magnitude thicker than the mean free path of the molecules comprising the flowing fluid, one usually models a shockwave as infinitesimally thin. But what happens when the channel dimensions approach the microscale? We may postulate the existence of a "shock plug" in which changes in fluid properties occur over a finite region of space instead of over an infinitesimally thin line.

This investigation could take on several forms from theoretical modeling of the temperature, pressure, density, entropy, and velocity changes over shock-plugs to designing, building, and testing an experimental apparatus to verify the existence of shock-plugs.  

Nanoparticle sunscreen optimized for vitamin D synthesis

Professor Thomas Adams

Numerous recent studies point to an increased awareness of the importance of adequate levels of vitamin D for optimal health. Studies have also shown that vitamin D synthesized from sunlight fairs better than dietary vitamin D in terms of its health benefits. However, overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun is also the major cause of skin cancer.

Nanoparticle suspensions are regularly used in sunscreens to keep harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from reaching the skin. Is it possible to fine-tune the particle suspensions in order to filter out the appropriate wavelengths needed for vitamin D production while blocking the majority of the harmful UV rays?

Design and fabrication of a micro plate and frame heat exchanger

Professor Thomas Adams

Plate and frame heat exchangers are widely used in industrial applications due to their large rates of heat transfer per unit volume and especially because of their scalability. The plate and frame design, however, has yet to be implemented at the microscale, a major application being the cooling of microelectronic components.

In this project we would explore the design and fabrication of a scalable plate and frame heat exchanger at the microscale. The design would most likely involve bulk micromachining silicon wafers and wafer bonding techniques. This would be a great project for those who have taken the Introduction to MEMS course and are looking for more opportunities in the field.

Software challenges in autonomous vehicle navigation

Professors David Mutchler (CSSE)
Professor JP Mellor (CSSE)
Professor Carlotta Berry (ECE)
Professor David Fisher (ME)


In this project, students will design and develop software to solve challenges in navigation faced by autonomous vehicles (robots).  The problems are real problems faced by real robots in a real competition.

The software to be developed is for challenges faced by a particular pair of robots that will be entered in the 2012 Intelligent Ground Vehicles Competition (IGVC), although the software will be designed to apply to other robots as well.  In that competition, robots navigate a football-sized field laced with obstacles, as suggested by the diagram above.  The robot arrives at the competition knowing the general nature of the course but not its specifics.


The particular robots of interest are:

  • Husky A200: a commercial robot whose chassis (wheels, motors, body, power, etc) is complete.  Students in this project will choose and attach sensors (with help from the Rose-Hulman Robotics Team) and write software for it.
  • Moxom's Master:  the Robotics Team's current robot (they are beginning the design of a 2nd-generation robot).

Students in this project will receive credit for CSSE 290, Software Challenges in Autonomous Vehicle Navigation.  They will attend the IGVC 2012 competition where their software will be used in the above robots.  Results of their research will be reported at that competition, at one or more conferences in Robotics, and at one or more conferences in Engineering Education.

Develop a noncontact means of measuring tension/strain in a membrane (drum-head)

Professor Simon Jones

Use a high-resolution camera to photograph before and after images of a circular membrane (drum head) being tightened to determine the tension field across the membrane. The membrane could be marked up with either a grid or speckle-pattern before tightening, and the pattern can be processed using Matlab to determine how it has changed. The goal is to identify how tension is distributed across the membrane (drum head) experimentally so it can be compared to numerical models.

Devise a means of predicting the tension in bandsaw blades using tonal response

Professor Simon Jones

Tensioning a bandsaw blade to its correct operating tension is a tricky process and rarely done accurately. Plucking a tensioned bandsaw blade produces a distinct tone made up of the fundamental frequency and harmonics. Can this fundamental frequency be measured and used to predict the tension in the blade from a mathematical model? Various tasks will need to be completed including: building an experimental rig to measure blade tension (e.g. force transducers, strain gauges, etc.), creating a mathematical model of the blade, developing software to predict the tension from the tonal response.

Finite element analysis: developing special elements for ANSYS

Professor Simon Jones

When studying ground vibrations using finite element analysis, special boundary conditions need to be applied which accurately simulate the semi-infinite space of the ground. A new method of computing “perfect absorbing boundaries” has been developed which works very well with current FE methods. The goal is to develop a method to implement these boundaries into ANSYS, linking the benefits of the new boundaries with the adaptability of ANSYS. This could be done using “user programmable features” in ANSYS, or “math APDL” to export the necessary info into Matlab where it can be processed and sent back to ANSYS for visualization.

Computation of exact inner products for Daubechies wavelets and scaling functions

Professor Simon Jones

Use of wavelets are gaining popularity in science and engineering as they have distinct advantages over other techniques, such as Fourier analysis. The family of Daubechies wavelets has special properties which make them quite useful; unfortunately they are fractal in nature which makes them difficult to integrate accurately. The exact solution to some inner products (the integration of a wavelet with another function) have been computed using the recursive nature of the wavelets, but there are others which would be really useful. The math involved in this project is not overly difficult; it would be more like a treasure hunt of trying to spot common terms which combine to simplify the result into a usable form.

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