Prof. William L. Roberts IVFaculty
Roberts is interested in experimental combustion, pollutants, emissions and soot morphology, optical diagnostic techniques for reacting flows
Dr. Roberts' long-term goal is to help solve our global warming and environmental problems through the development and advancement of unique and clever combustion, propulsion and bio-fuel solutions.
Presently, Dr. Roberts is 1) working on unsteady propulsion systems for high-speed/small-scale unmanned aerial vehicles, 2) developing methods for the conversion of vegetable and algal oils and animal fats into jet fuel and high-octane gasoline, and 3) is studying soot (particulate) formation, morphology and toxicology. He collaborates regularly with Dr. Fang, Dr. Kleinstrueur, Dr. Kuznetsov, Dr. Ram, and Dr. Seelecki.
At the graduate level, Dr. Roberts teaches Fluid Dynamics of Combustion I & II (MAE 504 and MAE 704), and Advanced Propulsion Systems (MAE 575). His two courses on Fluid Dynamics of Combustion are classical, lecture-style treatments of the subject. But in his second course, Dr. Roberts focuses more on problems related to bio-fuels, global warming, and air chemistry. In his Advanced Propulsion Systems course, Dr. Roberts reviews cutting edge systems, like pulsed detonation engines. In this class, the students also visit NASA facilities in Virginia (scramjet test facilities, wind tunnels, etc.).
At the undergraduate level, Dr. Roberts teaches engineering Thermodynamics I and II (MAE 301 and MAE 302) and Fluid Mechanics (MAE 308). In his Thermodynamics courses he enriches the perspective with discussions on propulsion, combustion, and chemistry. In his fluid dynamics course, he enjoys bringing in a historical perspective, like discussions about aqueducts and Archimedes screw. Dr. Roberts also teaches Propulsion (MAE 475) and Rocket Propulsion (MAE 476). In these classes, he has an ongoing special project in which interested students improve upon a pressure-fed liquid propellant rocket. Their developments are discussed in class.
Dr. Roberts looks for graduate students who are independent, creative problem-solvers. He gives the students a lot of latitude in setting their research direction. He trains them, so by the time they graduate, they become independent developers of technology.
Outside of work, Dr. Roberts enjoys restoring classic BMWs and studying the martial arts. He has 5 children so theres never a dull moment.
- PhD, Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan
- MSE, Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan
- BSE, Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan