This summer, I will be conducting research as a member of the Active Aeroelasticity and Structures Research Laboratory (A2SRL) at the University of Michigan, under the supervision of Professor Carlos E.S. Cesnik. The A2SRL is exploring the multidisciplinary study related to aerospace vehicles, especially the coupling problem of the structural and aerodynamic responses.
I will be part of the “X-HALE project”, and put my focus on studying the nonlinear aeroelasticity of very flexible aircraft.
Let me briefly tell the background of this project. HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) is a new system of aircraft that is capable of flying quite long time at the very high altitude compared to the existing aircraft like Boeing 777. An ultimate goal of HALE crafts is to fly 24/7 using sustainable energy, for example, solar energy, and it is expected to replace satellites for commercial and military use. Motivated by the great possible applications of HALE crafts, many types of research are conducted about this topic all over the world, including the A2SRL team.
To realize this system, the design of the crafts have to be very efficient in terms of energy consumption, so that it can fly ideally forever under limited battery/solar panel capability. As a result of seeking efficiency, which means less drag and lighter weight, the HALE crafts tend to be very slender and flexible. This flexibleness yields to the large deformation of the wing called “geometrically nonlinear”, and we are no longer able to apply the existing linear theory. Generally in engineering, “nonlinear” is a heinous word and it always makes problem complicated, but that’s also why we’re doing research.
The X-HALE is an experimental UAV(Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) developed in A2SRL to explore the nonlinear response of the structure-aerodynamic coupling. As a member of X-HALE project, my work is focusing on the validation of the computational model of the craft. Using the numerical method called FEM, I am tuning the FEM model and verifying that the computational analysis will match with the experimental results.
My goal of this research internship to cultivate the research skills in aerospace engineering, as well as build good connections with a professor and other researchers here. Both of them will have a direct influence on my Ph.D. study and further career. Though I don’t have intensive research experience before, I am very excited to start my research career in world-leading research institution. As for the research achievement, hopefully, I would like to get decent results and officially output my results in some way. I know this is very challenging goal for an undergraduate research intern, but I will do my best!