Travis Smith

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Travis Smith
P.h.D. AE '17

What is your next adventure?

I will be taking a job in industry where I will work as a combustion engineer focusing on instability and mitigation strategies for the products of combustion instability in power generating engines.

What about your next adventure are you most looking forward to?

A combination of a larger salary and free time. In grad school, the education you receive is part of the compensation for the amount of time you dedicate to the job. It's been well worth my time. I've learned a lot; however, I am looking forward to having that time back.

Did you have any previous co-op, internship, or research experience in this area?

As an undergrad, I co-opped, but it wasn't in this area. It was at GTRI in the antenna lab where I tested material for antennae or did some FORTRAN programming. It was just something I could do, so I co-opped. I also had the chance to do research  with [professor] Tim Lieuwen on transverse acoustic instabilities and power generation combustors. We were trying to better predict the transverse instabilities, which affect the efficiency and the lifetime of the hardware in power generating engines. I also did some undergrad research at the Technical University of Munich in Germany as a part of a summer exchange program. I had the opportunity to work directly with Professor Wolfgang Polifke, who is a well-known researcher in acoustics. That experience helped me realize that I wanted to do more than an undergraduate degree. I wanted to gain more depth. It motivated me to pursue a doctorate.

How did your educational experience at GT-AE help you achieve that goal?

As an undergraduate, I was introduced to a buffet of different subjects, and it helped me to find aerospace engineering. I chose AE because it was the most challenging. It had aerodynamics, combustion, airplanes, helicopters, space vehicles, controls, structures...it gave me broader set of skills and knowledge in things I may need to use in the future. Because I could already tell that what you study may not be what you end up doing for the rest of your life.

What advice would you give to an underclassman who would like to follow the same path?

I would say: get involved in the Georgia Tech community as a whole. By interacting with others, you will learn where your interests lie. Once you know that, you'll know how to spend your time. You'll find your place at Tech once you know what really interests you. For me, that became more clear as I got involved in other things, too. I was vice president of the Georgia Tech Trailblazers, an outdoor recreation group.