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AMEn e ws

The annual newsletter serving the students and alumni of the University of Oklahoma School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

Fall 2012 - Volume 4 Issue 9

In this Issue ame.NEWS Gollahalli Award....................................1 Letter from the Director...................2 Spring 2012 in Review.........................3

ame.Research Rising From the Ashes........................4


AME Alum Brad Perry.....................5 AME Student Jawanza Bassue.....6 Outstanding Students 2012............7

Felgar Renovation Update ................7 Promotion and Tenure......................8

Recent Grad?

Don’t forget to inform us as soon as you find a job! Keeping track of recent graduates’ employment status is a vital part of our accreditation process. Email any job-related updates to AME director, Mistree at Farrokh.Mistree@ or AME Communications Coordinator, Sarah Warren at

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AME is Transforming

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S.R. Gollahalli, AME professor, Lesch Centennial Chair and former AME director, was named a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics, and was honored at a gala in Washington, D.C., this summer. This distinction places Gollahalli in a small and elite group of aerospace professionals throughout the world. “Sub Gollahalli is a wonderful ambassador for the engineering profession and the OU College of Engineering. His technical expertise in the field of combustion is vital to aerospace propulsion systems and his students are in many technical and managerial leadership positions around the world,” said Tom Landers, College of Engineering dean. Gollahalli joined the AME faculty in 1976. He is an internationally recognized authority in the fields of energy and combustion, and from 2001-2009, he served two consecutive terms as AME director. In 1991, Gollahalli was named a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. In his role as a full-time teacher for 45 years, Gollahalli has mentored 80 graduate students and dozens of undergraduate students in his research lab. He also has mentored several post-doctoral fellows and junior faculty members, involving them in his research. “Dr. Gollahalli taught me not only combustion, but how to be a responsible researcher. Whatever success I have is because he trained me,” said Ahsan Choudhuri, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso, who studied under Gollahalli for his master’s and doctoral degrees. Gollahalli continues to influence the field of combustion, clean energy and power, while also influencing the lives of his students.



S.R. Gollahalli Named AIAA Fellow


Faculty & Staff Faculty

M. Cengiz Altan Peter Attar J. David Baldwin Kuang-Hua Chang Rong Zhu Gan S.R. Gollahalli Kurt Gramoll Takumi Hawa F.C. Lai Wilson E. Merchàn-Merchàn David P. Miller Farrokh Mistree Kumar Parthasarathy Mrinal C. Saha Zahed Siddique Li Song Harold L. Stalford Alfred G. Striz Prakash Vedula


Rebecca Norris Office Manager and Assistant to the Director Debbie Mattax Financial Associate Kate O’Brien Student Services Coordinator Vicki Pollock Staff Assistant Sarah Warren Communications Coordinator

Shop Personnel Billy Mays Greg Williams

Letter From the Director This year brings exciting changes to the AME family. We have two new staff members. Rebecca Norris, my new assistant, has taken the position held by Lawana Dillard for nearly 15 years. Rebecca brings a wealth of experience and interests. Lawana has taken a new job with the university and we wish her well. Kate O’Brien is the new student services coordinator. She worked in a similar position at the OU School of Dance for many years and is married to an AME alumnus. She replaces Suzi Skinner, who is riding off into the sunset with her husband on their motorcycles as they both embrace the new adventure of retirement. This year also ushers in a new opportunity for AME students and partnering companies. Farrokh Mistree, Ph.D. AME has begun a new program called Director, AME the 21st Century Co-Op, a five-year B.S./M.S. degree program in mechanical engineering that unites an AME education with interwoven internships, mentorship and special projects with one company for three years of a student’s degree. In addition to core courses in mechanical engineering, the curriculum includes customized courses jointly offered by company engineers and faculty during summer internships, a senior capstone experience and graduate theses that are of relevance to the sponsoring company, and graduate cross-disciplinary courses. This program overcomes many of the problems associated with Co-Ops, mainly the length of education. Students participating in this program should still graduate with a joint B.S./M.S. degree in five years. By participating in this program, 21st Century Co-Op Scholars gain technical competencies and soft skills that are relevant to the sponsoring company. A company that sponsors a 21st Century Co-Op has the opportunity to educate and hire a team of engineers who are well prepared to hit the road running. If you are interested in learning more about joining the 21st Century Co-Op program, please contact me. I can always be reached at (405) 306-7309 or Thank you for being a part of the AME family. I hope you enjoy learning about the students, faculty and research that makes AME great. Positive Thoughts,

Farrokh Mistree, Ph.D. Director AME News • 2


Spring and Summer 2012 in Review On April 11, Ward O. Winer presented the Charles W. Bert Distinguished Lecture. In his address, Georgia Tech Mechanical Engineering: THEN, NOW and LESSONS LEARNED, he chronicled the ways he helped advance the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering from a regional engineering school to the research institution it today during his tenure as the school’s chair from 1988 through 2007. Winer’s lecture was attended by faculty, students and administration from throughout the College of Engineering. Professor Charles W. Bert retired from the University of Oklahoma after serving 41 years as a faculty member in the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. In recognition of his distinguished career, the Charles W. Bert School Lecture Series was established to feature outstanding professors and researchers lecturing on cutting-edge topics in aerospace and mechanical engineering.

David Bert, AME alumnus and chairman of the AME Board of Advisors, was inducted into the College of Engineering’s Distinguished Graduates Society at the college’s Convocation Ceremony on May 12 in Lloyd Noble Center. Bert graduated with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from OU in 1985. In 1993, he received his master of science degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Southern California. He is a licensed professional engineer. He is vice president of Drilling-Eastern Division for Chesapeake Energy Corp. in Oklahoma City.

Mechanical Engineering student Moises Martinez was named the 2011-2012 Outstanding Senior for the College of Engineering. He served as a representative of the College of Engineering Class of 2012 at Commencement and Convocation ceremonies in May. Coming to the University of Oklahoma from Mustang, Okla., Moises has contributed his time and leadership to a variety of campus and community organizations, including the Multicultural Engineering Program, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Dean’s Leadership Class, and The Big Event. Among his awards, he was cited as a National Hispanic Scholar, ConocoPhillips Spirit Scholar, and Outstanding Junior in Mechanical Engineering, and he was awarded the Dean’s Advisory Board on Diversity Wayne Steen Scholarship. He is now employed with Shell.

Student services coordinator Suzi Skinner retired after nearly 12 years with the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. She helped thousands of students during her time at AME. “The high point of my career has been interacting with students and seeing them grow from being freshman to graduates,” she said. Skinner plans on making trips to see her grandchild and spending time with her family.

AME News • 3


Rising From the Ashes

AME Professor’s Flame Method is a Game Changer for Nano Materials Research Nanomaterials are necessities of modern life. They can be strong, firm and ductile at high temperatures. They are wear-, erosion-, and corrosion-resistant, and are chemically active. They make planes simultaneously lighter and stronger, roofs more weather resistant, and they have applications in fields as diverse as medicine and clean energy. Transition metal oxides are particularly in-demand nanomaterials. Engineers design these microscopic materials to contain specific electronic and mechanical properties. TMOs designed with cavities and platelets can be filled with liquid or nanomaterials. TMOs with microscopic rods and wires provide increased stability. TMOs have the potential to become the building blocks of our modern world. Increased demand has highlighted a flaw in the creation of TMOs. The current growth process, Chemical Vapor Deposition, is a tedious, multi-step batch process that can take from a few hours to a few days to complete. Time, expense and the subsequent low supply have made TMOs impractical on a large scale. But a faculty member at the University of Oklahoma School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering has discovered how to create TMOs faster.

Turning Up the Heat

AME associate professor of mechanical engineering Wilson Merchán-Merchán did not set out to discover a new process for synthesizing TMOs. After previous success using an oxygen-enriched flame to synthesize common nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes, he and his team decided to try using the same method to create a new form of carbon structure. Instead of synthesizing the nanomaterials they sought to grow, they stumbled upon a new method of creating unique 1-D and 3-D TMOs. The development of the high-rate synthesis method of TMOs is a game changer in nanomaterials research. It will fuel new applications and create a demand for large volumes of these nanomaterials. Funded by generous multi-year grants from the National Science Foundation, Merchán-Merchán and his research affiliates at OU, as well as Alexei Saveliev, Ph.D., at North Carolina State University, expose bulk transition metals to the hottest parts of an oxygen-enriched flame. From that reaction, they instantaneously synthesize high-demand transition metal-oxides. In this single-step process, Merchán-Merchán is doing in seconds what had taken days.

New Method Means More Applications

Inexpensive and quick growth of TMOs means a better chance for large-scale synthesis and eventual common use in the marketplace. The potential for increased supply led to increased experimentation on the capacity of TMOs. The results are staggering in both their effectiveness and their diverse range of applications. “Recently, one-dimensional TMO naonostructures have attracted tremendous attention due to their applications in optics, medicine and electrons,” MerchánMerchán explained. “For instance, channel structures contain slender, prismatic and

Miscroscopic views of TMOs show the nanomaterial’s unique properties. AME Research • 4

completely hollow cavities, and can be used in medical applications for drug delivery.” Recently, Merchán-Merchán and his team coated the surface of solar panels with flame synthesized W-oxide nanorods. The result was a 5-percent increase in the solar panel’s efficiency, a large gain, considering solar panels’ notoriously low-efficiency rating of 15 to 20 percent. With endless applications and a new horizon of possibilities, Merchán-Merchán’s research into TMOs is still in its infancy.

Fanning the Flame

Merchán-Merchán’s research has put him on the map and may change the way everything from solar panels to medicines and airplanes are designed. But he also has worked diligently to be an excellent teacher. Merchán-Merchán decided to become a professor during his junior year of college. Alexander Fridman, his thermodynamics professor, allowed him to work on a plasma project. “That’s when I fell in love with research,” he said. Opportunities to work with students as a graduate teaching assistant showed him he could have the best of both worlds as a professor – he could research and teach. Merchán-Merchán works closely with graduate students in his research laboratory. Every semester he provides research opportunities to a small number of undergraduate students though OU’s Undergraduate Research and Guided Individual Studies course. He also involves a select group of local high school students in research projects in the summer and after school. Some of his students are supported to conduct research through National Science Foundation awards. Merchán-Merchán sees his efforts as a way to encourage top students to pursue an engineering career. “Recent studies have suggested that student-faculty interactions outside the classroom can be an important factor in a student’s decision to enroll in an advanced science and engineering program as well as to prepare them for successful careers in industry,” MerchánMerchán explained. Merchán-Merchán’s research will have profound implications for the future, as products equipped with TMOs eventually become commonplace in the marketplace. His passion for teaching will also reach far into the future. Whether Merchán-Merchán’s students go on to become engineers or professors or even if they venture into entirely different fields, just like the products enhanced by TMOs, they will be strengthened.

Top: (L-R) Moien Farmahini, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical engineering, runs experiments with MerchánMerchán in the lab on the University of Oklahoma Norman campus. Bottom: Farmahini exposes a transition metal to a flame to rapidly create transition metal oxides.

Congratulations Brad AME spring 2012 mechanical engineering graduate Bradley Perry from Yukon, Okla., received the prestigious National Science Foundation Research Fellowship. The fellowship allows Perry to go to any graduate school, and will pay for all tuition and fees, along with a stipend for living expenses. It also will give him access to travel funds and use of a super computer for research. Multiple schools recruited Perry, but in the end he chose the University of California at Berkeley. Perry wants to be an engineering professor, a goal he decided upon after spending time with AME associate professor of Aerospace Engineering, Peter Attar. “I started doing undergraduate research for Dr. Attar. He really cares about his students. He cares about them understanding the theory behind the research. I became a better researcher under Dr. Attar, and I realized I wanted to be like him and understand the theory behind everything I do,” said Perry. While an AME student, Perry was also an active member of the Sooner Off Road student competition team.

AME Research • 5


Featured Student: Q&A with AE student Jawanza Bassue

Jawanza Bassue is an aerospace engineering junior from the Carribean island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis. He also is a student photographer for OU Information Technology, where he uses his photography skills to capture OU life for many departments, including AME.

How did you hear about AME?

I stumbled onto OU’s Design Build Fly team successes. I jumped at the chance to be at an institution that did fun competitions and was nationally recognized for all of its engineering programs.

Why did you choose OU?

I tell everyone that it’s great to grow up on a beautiful Caribbean island but, until you’re challenged outside of your comfort zone, your character growth is limited. I looked forward to a challenge and a great place to explore. Haven’t regretted or my decision once since.

What made you want to be an AE major?

I’ve always had a passion for flight, travel and airplanes. I dabbled with the idea of becoming a professional pilot, but I realized that someday I would love to be a part of the team that had “the next great engineering idea.” In the end, art and science, coupled with my passion for design and flight, made aerospace engineering seem like the perfect avenue to explore.

What do you hope to do when you finish your degree?

I dream big. My dream job would see me interacting with a customer with unique needs or specifications for an aeronautic application, then being a part of the team that designs the components of a great new aircraft. I’d love to expand my undergraduate degree into a graduate research project and spend time encouraging students in my homeland to pursue engineering degrees.

How has your photography helped you to connect to OU and AME?

I have been able to interact with the people who really make OU tick behind the scenes. From being on first-name basis with President Boren and the lovable Clarke Stroud – I think I have shed lots of photographic cheer to hundreds of staff and students at OU. At AME, I get the unique chance to see what other students are doing for capstone projects, witness groundbreaking graduate research and get the inside scoop on available opportunities. I’ve become a regular sight around the engineering buildings wielding my camera gear.

Can you show us your favorite photos? (L) Favorite campus pucture: Bizzell Memorial Library done in a High Dynamic Range during my freshman year.

To read Jawanza’s full interview, visit AME Profiles • 6

(R) Favorite picture of a person: During Carnival season in my home country of St. Kitts, I took this black-and-white portrait of a Rasta-man (possibly of the Rastafarian religion). It has always been my favorite because of the strong features of his face, his hair, and the way he tells the story of a lifetime with his eyes.

Outstanding Students, 2011-2012

AE - Senior Richard Martin

AE - Junior Miranda Konowitz

ME - Senior Blake Eisner

AE - Sophomore Mark Olima

ME - Junior John Conder

AE - Sophomore Stephanie Andrade

ME - Sophomore Alex Guerra

Renovation Update – We need your help! The School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering is excited to launch a Felgar Hall Renovation Campaign. Gifts of all size are needed to renovate this important campus building, which has been a part of the College of Engineering since 1925. Whether you are on campus for an athletic event or tour with a future Sooner, we hope you will contact us. We would love to show you around Felgar Hall and share our exciting renovation plans with you!

Jill Hughes,, 405-325-5217 or Neil Heeney,, 405-325-3753

AME Profiles • 7

Promotion and Tenure

Congratulations to AME faculty members who were promoted and who received tenure! (L-R) Peter Attar, Ph.D. (Aerospace Engineering), Wilson Merchรกn-Merchรกn, Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering), Mrinal Saha, Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering), and Prakash Vedula, Ph.D. (Aerospace Engineering) all received tenure and were promoted to the rank of associate professor. Zahed Siddique, Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering), was promoted to full professor. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution. โ€ข This publication was produced at no cost to the taxpayers of Oklahoma.

865 Asp Avenue | Norman, OK | 73019-1029 |

AME Newsletter 2012  

Find out everything that's happening at the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma

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