Towards the end of this past summer, I joined two different research lab projects. Both projects have me working in the same location but are completely unrelated to each other. First, I will describe the process I went through to receive these opportunities then, I will delve into what each project consists of.
One of the most important parts of college is establishing good relations with professors/mentors. With these good relationships come letters of recommendation, connections within industry, and, in my case, research opportunities. My first semester AME 105 professor, Dr. Geoffrey Spedding, was always a reliable resource for me. Even after my class with him ended, I continued to go into his office hours and ask for advice for my freshman year and very fast approaching sophomore year. Through this close relationship, I was able to land my two projects.
The first project involves working in the Dryden Wind Tunnel here on campus (there are only about 30 as large in the country). I am studying the effects of swept wings, such as those in birds, on the aerodynamic properties of a moving body through air. My specific research is part of a larger project, but our responsibility is to discover what angled wings do to the lift, drag, and other fundamental aerodynamics. We 3D printed an entire plane body and multiple wing sets in order to construct the desired device to be tested. After a lot of sanding and many broken wings, we were finally able to see if our bird would fly in the wind tunnel. We successfully tested that the device would survive the speed in the wind tunnel that needed to be reached in order to gather data. Next, we will be conducting more tests and compiling all of the results!
The second and more recent project that I just got involved in is in the same building as the wind tunnel, but across the hall in the water channel. I just started getting more involved in this research, and it also involves the study of wings. It is looking at the effect of the boundary layer on an airfoil at a low Reynolds Number. We are looking at the separation of flow from the wing and what happens to aerodynamic properties as the flow comes back onto the wing.
Both of these projects are creating incredible opportunities for me and have exponentially increased my already extremely high passion for aerospace engineering. Besides that, I am learning at an even more advanced level because I can see all of the equations, graphs, and words in textbooks come to fruition in front of me. I highly recommend trying to get involved with research as soon as you possibly can, and USC is a fantastic place to do that!
As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have about getting involved in research or what I do specifically. In addition, if you come visit campus and want to take a tour let me know! It is incredible to see and definitely something to brag home about.