Braun and Lee recieve AFOSR YIP awards

Two professors at NC State University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering received prestigious awards in late December from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

Assistant Professors James Braun and Andrew Lee were each individually awarded a three-year $450,000 grant as a part of the AFOSR Young Investigators Program (YIP) awards. 

According to AFOSR YIP program manager Ellen Robinson, the award “fosters creative basic research in science and engineering, enhances early career development of outstanding young investigators and increases opportunities for the young investigators to engage in forwarding the Department of the Air Force, or DAF mission and related challenges in science and engineering.”

Out of 159 proposals, only 48 researchers from 36 institutions and 20 states were selected as recipients of this award. Among these recipients, the AFOSR awarded at total of $21.5 million, nearly 5% of which will specifically go toward NC State MAE projects from Braun and Lee.

Braun heads the BE-FAST (Braun’s Engineering Factory for Advanced Supersonic Technologies) Lab at MAE, which focuses on novel supersonic propulsion concepts for airbreathing and aerospace applications, through wind tunnel experiments and computational fluid dynamic (CFD) simulations. The team is actively working on rotating detonation technology, multi-phase modeling and bladeless power extraction technology.

His proposal for the YIP award is titled “Bladeless turbines for power and thrust in compact supersonic propulsion.” Read more about his research here.

“Chemical rocket technology has been employed since the 1940s and has reached its practical limits in terms of large cycle improvements,” Braun’s abstract states. “New thermodynamic cycles such as rotating detonation combustion technology promise theoretical improvements up to 10% in specific impulse but also by elevated temperatures in excesses of 3000K, pressures above 100 MPa, supersonic or hypersonic Mach numbers, and large azimuthal flow velocities. Wavy-shaped bladeless turbines could harvest this excess energy, and have the potential to deliver power in unsteady rocket nozzle environments by producing torque from shock waves through a helicoidally shaped cylindrical surface. “

For this research, Braun will be partnering with Dr. Thierry Magin from the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics, Dr. Iman Rahbari from USC (University of Southern California), as well as with Dr. Venkat Narayanaswamy and Dr. Chi-An Yeh from MAE.

Similarly, Lee runs the Lightweight Active Structures Lab at MAE, which focuses on the interaction between lightweight structures and active materials to design intelligent structural systems that can adapt to dynamic environments. The aim is to harness mechanical instabilities and nonlinear dynamical behaviors in deployable and reconfigurable structures to amplify performance in motion and energy based applications.

Lee’s YIP proposal is titled “Active Deployment Control of Ultra-thin Composite Structures.” Read more about his research here.

“This project aims to create fundamental innovation in identifying the dynamics and actively controlling the freely deploying motion of ultra-thin composite shell structures,” Lee’s Abstract States. “Allowing for predictable and repeatable deployment is critical in a wide range of engineered space systems such as antennas for telecommunication, solar arrays for power generation, and in-space manufacturing platforms. The ability to exercise control over these deployable systems is needed for preventing incomplete expansion or operational failure of mission critical components and payload.”

To view the list of 2024 YIP winning proposals, click here.