Putting Research to the Test: AE Doctoral Dissertations

Each year, the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering graduates between 30 and 40 doctoral students - each with unique contributions to make in research, academia, industry, and the evolution of the discipline itself. On this page, we provide links to their abstracts and their published dissertations. We're also introducing Next Gen Ideas, a video series in which our doctoral candidates will have ~ 3 minutes to explain research that took them years to produce. (No one ever said aerospace engineering was easy.) Click on the video above to get started.

2020 - 2021 Doctoral Dissertations

Dushhyanth Rajaram: “Methods for Construction of Surrogates for Computationally Expensive High-Dimensional Problems" (Advisor: Dimitri Mavris

Maturation of computational models has increased reliance on numerical simulations for the analysis, and more importantly, design of complex engineered systems. The high accuracy and realism offered by simulation-based analysis often comes at a high computational cost especially in the many-query context, as such limiting its applicability in exploratory design studies. read the abstract

Jai Ahuja: “A Methodology for Capturing the Aero-Propulsive Coupling Characteristics of Boundary Layer Ingesting Aircraft in Conceptual Design” (Advisor: Prof. Dimitri Mavris)

Economic and environmental benefits of fuel efficient aircraft have driven research towards unconventional configurations and technologies. Boundary Layer Ingesting (BLI) concepts appear to be a promising solution, relying on a synergistic interaction between the airframe and propulsor for improved fuel efficiency. read the abstract

Patrick Meyer: "Evaluating the Effects of Model Simplifications on the Transference of Policies Learned in Simulation" (Advisor: Prof. Dimitri Mavris


2019 - 2020 Doctoral Dissertations

Dan Fries, aerospace engineering ph.d. Dan Fries: “Entrainment, Mixing, and Ignition in Single and Multiple Jets in a Supersonic Crossflow” (Advisors: Prof. Suresh Menon & Prof. Devesh Ranjan

Non-reacting and reacting sonic jets in a supersonic crossflow are studied. The influence of injectant properties on turbulent mixing is investigated. Using pure gases, the molecular weight and specific heat ratio is varied between 4-44 g/mol and 1.24-1.66, respectively. read the abstract 

Komahan Boopathy: “Adjoint Based Design Optimization of Systems with Time Dependent Physics and Probabilistically Modeled Uncertainties” (Advisor: Graeme Kennedy)

For aerospace structures, failure can occur not only because of static instabilities like divergence, but also due to time dependent issues like flutter and large vibrations. Therefore, the consideration of time-domain physics  becomes essential during design. read the dissertation

Principio TudiscoPrincipio Tudisco: “Numerical Simulations of Real-Gas Flows with Phase-Equilibrium Thermodynamics”(Advisor: Suresh Menon

Motivated by the complex physics of multi-component mixtures in strongly nonideal, real-gas (RG) conditions reported in the field of chemical engineering and supported by several studies conducted in different fields of physics and engineering, in this work, the objective to address the behavior of RG mixtures with multi-phase thermodynamics has been addressed from a broader point of view. read the abstract (pdf) 

Lin Li: “Structural Impacts of Inflatable Aerodyamic Decelerator Design” (Advisor: Julian Rimoli)

In order to land larger payloads to Mars, more capable decelerators are required to advance beyond the performance limitations of traditional heritage entry, descent, and landing technologies. One potential technology is an inflatable aerodynamic decelerator (IAD), a flexible aeroshell that can be folded and stowed in a rocket fairing during launch and inflated prior to entry. read the dissertation

Nicholson Konrad KoukpaizanNicholson Konrad Koukpaizan: “Improved Techniques for Aerodynamic Flow Control Simulation with Fluidic Oscillators” (Advisor: Marilyn Smith

The need for improved performance, reduced drag, and more energy efficient rotary-wing and fixed-wing vehicles has motivated the aerospace community to design and implement various flow control techniques. read the dissertation

Taofiq Amoloye: “A Refined Potential Theory for the Incompressible Unsteady Subcritical-Reynolds number Flows on Canonical Bluff Bodies” (Advisor: Marilyn Smith

Classical potential theory falls short of reconciling the actions of fluid viscosity and frictional forces in an actual flow with the theoretical analysis of such a flow. As such, it is unable to predict the important phenomenon of flow separation that leads, in part, to the pressure drag experienced by the body in an actual flow. read the abstract (pdf)

Benjamin León: “Enabling Technologies for Autonomous Landing with Robotic Landing Gear” (Advisor: Claudio Di LeoAerospace engineering doctoral student Benjamin Leon

Throughout their history, rotorcraft have proven to be an invaluable tool for accessing landscapes that traditional fixed wing aircraft are unable to reach. Pilots or autonomous flight systems often face the complexity of landing on uneven, rugged, or moving ship decks in order to complete their mission(s). read the abstract (pdf)

aerospace engineering doctoral student Kerrianne HobbsKerianne Hobbs: “Elicitation and Formal Specification of Run Time Assurance Requirements for Aerospace Collision Avoidance Systems” (Advisors: Eric Feron and Glenn Lightsey

One of the greatest challenges preventing use of advanced controllers in aerospace is developing methods to verify, validate, and certify them with high assurance. Traditional test and simulation-based approaches evaluate system behavior at design time in a subset of the total state space. read the dissertation (pdf)

Edwin Goh: “Reduced-Order Model for Prediction of Staged-Combustor NOx Emissions with Detailed Chemistry and Finite-Rate Mixing” (Advisor: Professor Jerry Seitzman

The ground power industry is targeting combined cycle plant efficiencies of 65% and above, which can be achieved primarily through higher combustor firing temperatures. Because conventional combustors fail to meet NOx regulations at such temperatures, there is a pressing need for high-temperature, low-emissions combustors. read the dissertation

Metin Firat Ozcan: “A Methodology for Sampling with a Classifier in Gas Turbine State Pace to Create Transient Surrogate Models” (Advisor: Prof. Dimitri Mavris

Georgios BoutselisGeorgios Boutselis: “Optimization-Based Methods for Deterministic and Stochastic Control: Algorithmic Development, Analysis and Applications on Mechanical Systems & Fields” (Advisor: Prof. Evangelos Theodorou

Developing efficient control algorithms for practical scenarios remains a key challenge for the scientific community. Towards this goal, optimal control theory has been widely employed over the past decades, with applications both in simulated and real environments. Unfortunately, standard model-based approaches become highly ineffective when modeling accuracy degrades. read the dissertation

Julian BrewJulian Brew: “Using Sample-based Continuation Techniques to Efficiently Compute Subspace Reachable Sets and Pareto-Surfaces” (Advisor: Prof. E. Glenn Lightsey)

For a given continuous-time dynamical system with control input constraints and prescribed state boundary conditions, one can compute the reachable set at a specified time horizon. Forward reachable sets contain all states that can be reached using a feasible control policy at the specified time horizon. read the dissertation

Kazuhide OkamotoKazuhide Okamoto: “Optimal Covariance Steering: Theory and It’s Application to Autonomous Driving” (Advisor: Prof.Panagiotis Tsiotras

Optimal control under uncertainty has been one of the central research topics in the control community for decades. While a number of theories have been developed to control a single state from an initial state to a target state, in some situations, it is preferable to simultaneously compute control commands for multiple states that start from an initial distribution and converge to a target distribution. read the dissertation

Bradley OchsBradley A. Ochs: “Ignition, Topology, and Growth of Turbulent Premixed Flames in Supersonic Flows” (Advisor: Prof. Suresh Menon)

Supersonic combustion ramjets (scramjets) are currently the most efficient combustor technology for air breathing hypersonic flight, however, lack of fundamental understanding and numerous engineering challenges hinder regular deployment of these devices. This work addresses scramjet-relevant knowledge gaps in the areas of ignition, numerical modeling, and flame-compressibility interaction. read the dissertation

Tech TowerMichael D. Bozeman Jr.: “A Reduced-Order Modeling Methodology for the Multidisciplinary Design and Analysis of Boundary Layer Ingestion Configurations” (Advisor: Prof. Dimitri Mavris

In response to the increasingly stringent requirements for subsonic transport aircraft, NASA has established aggressive goals for the noise, emissions, and fuel burn of the next generations of aircraft. This has led to the investigation of a variety of unconventional configurations and new technologies. read the dissertation

Kisun SonKisun Song: “An Architecture Model of the U.S. Air Transportation Network” (Advisor: Prof. Dimitri N. Mavris

Etienne BouchardEtienne Bouchard: “Dynamic Assessment of Multiple Aircraft Tethered to a Shared Payload” (Advisor: Prof. Dimitri N. Mavris)


Miad Sarimi

Miad Karimi: "‚ÄčInvestigation of High-Pressure Methane and Syngas Autoignition Delay Times" (Advisor: Prof. Devesh Ranjan & Prof. Wenting Sun)

This thesis reports methane (CH4) and a syngas mixture (H2/CO=95:5) autoignition delay measurements relevant to operating conditions of supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power cycle (100 to 300 bar) combustors. To acquire data at these conditions as part of this thesis, a new high-pressure shock tube is designed, fabricated and commissioned. read the dissertation

Matthew D. Sirignano Headshot

Matthew D. Sirignano: "‚ÄčExperimental Investigation of Nitrogen Oxide Production in Premixed Reacting Jets in a Vitiated Crossflow" (Advisor: Prof. Tim Lieuwen)

The presented work describes the experimental investigation of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from reacting jets in a vitiated crossflow (RJICF). It is motivated by interest in axial staging of combustion as an approach to reduce undesirable NOx emissions from gas turbine combustors operating at high flame temperatures (>1900K). read the dissertation