Momentum Volume 2 | UCF MAE | 2017-18

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MOMENTUM UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Orlando, Florida | Volume 2 | 2017-18

UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering | 1

Contents Letter from the Chair


UCF Launches Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering


Woman of Wonder


Momentum is a biannual publication that highlights the achievements of the students, faculty, staff and alumni from the University of Central Florida’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

Program Pioneers



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Trip of a Lifetime Associate Professor Thanks Her Role Model in Chevron Commercial


It’s a SURE Thing


Her Future is Fulbright


Flying High


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PUBLICATION PRODUCTION Marisa Ramiccio Communications Coordinator


@ucfmae Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering University of Central Florida 12760 Pegasus Blvd. Orlando, FL 32816-2450

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letter from the


What a wonderful department we have in one of the most incredible places on Earth. With a cadre of extremely talented faculty and staff members, an exceptional group of graduate and undergraduate students, and a rapid growth in research enterprise, we are positioned to be one of the most accomplished mechanical and aerospace engineering departments in the nation. Since joining the University of Central Florida in 2014, I have witnessed firsthand a transformative growth in UCF’s education and research endeavors. The major strides UCF has taken in the recent past is starting to show big gains. Our faculty and students crave to conduct outstanding research at the highest level, and we are being publishd in the top industry journals. With this appetite for research, combined with multiple multi-million federal and industrial grants recently earned, we are now ready to become one of the top 20 mechanical and aerospace engineering departments in the United States. In our previous issue, we highlighted our emerging and established research initiatives, including the fascinating work of Assistant Professor Helen Huang and her research team in the Biomechanics, Rehabilitation, and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Laboratory; and the $1.3 million National Institutes of Health grant that will fund Associate Professor Hansen Mansy’s work on a device that provides an early warning system for those diagnosed with heart failure. In this issue, we provide a snapshot of the department’s successes — the accomplishments of our alumni, achievements of our students, and the accolades received by our faculty. As you flip through the pages of this magazine, you will read about some of the outstanding undergraduate students who, under the direction of our faculty members, won awards in the 2018 UCF Showcase of

Undergraduate Research Excellence. The first cohort of the new Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering has graduated, and the stories of two of our first alumni are told. Our alumna, Linda Rossmann, a 2018 recipient of a Fulbright student fellowship, is also featured here. With 315 national Merit scholars, it is no secret that UCF has an outstanding honors college with brilliant students. Our department is one of the greatest beneficiaries of this program. As you will read — and see — the international study abroad course that we offer in collaboration with the Burnett Honors College offers an incredible international experience in São Paulo, Brazil. Another one of our great alumni, Emily Judd, shares the secrets to her post-college success in a spotlight for the Burnett Honors College. This issue also includes an incredible story on graduate student Estefania Bohorquez, pictured on the cover. She recently received the prestigious 20 Twenties Award, given by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in collaboration with Aviation Week Network. In addition to the department’s achievements, the College of Engineering and Computer Science also has something to celebrate. This academic year, the college is commemorating its 50th anniversary. Through social media and the CECS website, you’ll find flashbacks of what the college’s students and faculty were doing in years past, and what the college’s major milestones were.

Visit to view the college timeline and video. The next issue of Momentum will pay homage to the department’s history and show how we have progressed in the past 50 years. Here at UCF, we pride ourselves on the many ways that we are changing people’s lives and providing opportunities to an exceptional group of students. I hope these stories will give you an appreciation of our efforts here at the UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and I hope you enjoy this issue. Go Knights! Yoav Peles Chair, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering University of Central Florida

UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering | 3

The University of Central Florida is the

No. 1

supplier of graduates to the aerospace and defense industries for the fourth year in a row, per Aviation Week Network

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UCF Launches Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering N ame any of the top aerospace companies in the United States,

and chances are their staff includes graduates from the University of Central Florida. For the past four years, the university has been ranked the No. 1 workforce supplier of the U.S. aerospace and defense industries by Aviation Week Network. Following on the heels of the 2018 ranking, the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering announced the launch of a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. The doctoral degree was

recently approved by the Florida State University System’s Board of Governors and will be implemented in fall 2019. Through the program, students will explore the depths of aerodynamics, propulsion, dynamics and control, structures and materials, and aerospace systems design. The curriculum will be interdisciplinary, including unique course offerings made possible by faculty collaborations between MAE and its Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Energy Research, the UCF College of Optics and Photonics and the

Townes Laser Institute. Doctoral students will also have abundant opportunities for research with faculty and aerospace experts around the world. By producing innovative leaders with terminal degrees in the field, the department hopes to continue supporting the aerospace and defense industries both nationally and locally. The university is conveniently located near some of the top aerospace companies in Central Florida including Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

To learn more about the Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering, visit

UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering | 5

Woman of Wonder: Graduate Student and Aerial Acrobat Recognized for Aerospace Work


hen she was 7 years old and growing up in Bogota, Colombia, Estefania Bohorquez ’17 would take little day trips 30 miles outside the city. She would walk through a passageway to a fascinating place more than 600 feet underground. There, she would look in awe at what is known as Zipaquirá Salt Cathedral. Bohorquez wasn’t there for photo ops. She was there for her own curiosity, a trait deep in her DNA that would eventually lead her on a journey beyond her wildest dreams. “I remember studying the details of that cathedral,” says Bohorquez, who earned a bachelor’s in civil engineering with an emphasis on structures from UCF. “Even as a young girl, it was incredible to think that someone had designed such beautiful structures without the technology or tools we have today. It opened a lot of questions for me.” “Even as a young girl, it was incredible to think that someone had designed such beautiful structures without the technology or tools we have today. It opened a lot of questions for me.” The quest for answers has taken Bohorquez on life-altering experiences from Bogota to Orlando to Italy to Germany, and to a hospital bed from which she learned about her next stop: Washington, D.C., where on March 1 she will be presented with a 20 Twenties Award from Aviation Week and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. As the name implies, the prestigious award recognizes the 20 most promising future leaders in the aerospace industry. Bohorquez was nominated partly for her academic achievement but mostly for her field work, including a collaborative project in Cologne, Germany, between the German Aerospace Center and UCF. The objective was to search for materials that can sustain extreme physical and mechanical environments applicable to hypersonic and reusable space vehicles. Impressive stuff. So 6 | MOMENTUM Fall 2018

much so that Bohorquez is the only person from the state of Florida to earn the 20 Twenties Award and the achievement will put her on stage with Ivy Leaguers and students from universities like MIT and Cambridge. “Some of my friends say ‘You’re always thinking about what’s next. You need to slow down.’ But there are so many things that interest me, I don’t want to stop learning.” When asked if she envisions herself as a mechanical and aerospace engineer after her post-grad work because, well, she’s in the graduate program for mechanical and aerospace engineering, Bohorquez thinks about it and says, “Not entirely.” To her, a title is too limiting. What Bohorquez really wants is to create an ultra-niche, combining all of her interests into something like this: artist, archaeologist, structural engineer, and the ultimate — space researcher. Yes, she sees the journey that she unwittingly embarked upon during underground outings as a little girl soon reaching heights we’ve never seen. Bohorquez didn’t realize it at the time. But when her dad took a job in the Orlando area (he’s a mechanical engineer, her mom is an electrical engineer) when Bohorquez was 12 years old, the family was relocating to a place where they could watch the extraordinary from their new backyard: Rockets launching from Cape Canaveral. “It’s crazy,” says Bohorquez. “You hear the boom and see the sky light up right there. Who else in the world can say that?” The sights and sounds of the launches have added another piece of intrigue to the melting pot of Bohorquez’s field experiences at UCF. She studied art history in Italy. (“I was the only engineering student, everyone else was an art major,” she says. “And I kept thinking, ‘Wow, I’m learning about the Coliseum at the Coliseum.”) There was the summer project in Cologne, and even an

internship at Disney opened her eyes to the concept of “imagineering.” There was a moment, however brief, when the journey did stop for Bohorquez. Around the time she was visually dissecting the Salt Cathedral in Bogota, she also had a fall while playing in a park, injuring her knee. The problem with the ligaments lingered for years. Bohorquez even took up aerial silks (like doing gymnastics while hanging from a ceiling-to-floor curtain) as a way to strengthen the muscles around the knee. Finally, on Dec. 20 of last year, she relented to surgery. While in recovery, she would glance at her phone to take her mind off the pain. That’s when she saw the text from Aviation Week about her honor as a 20 Twenties honoree, a direct result from her field work in Germany. “The timing was perfect,” Bohorquez says. “It motivated me to think about anything but my knee.” Like the idea of a first job. “It shouldn’t be the end goal for students. There’s more to learning than getting a first job. Learning should never stop. To me that’s what should be fulfilling.” And that is why, when Bohorquez thinks of a job, she doesn’t think of it in a way that can be explained. What she sees is a combination of art and technology. It’s the past and the future. It’s discoveries under Earth’s surface and far above it. Specifically? She wants to help develop structures in space, but also the aircraft that will get us there. And while she’s at it, she sees all of the advances “out there” helping communities recover from natural disasters right here. “Whatever we learn,” she says, “should not be isolated within certain fields of interest. We can use expertise in so many ways and in so many places.” Bogota. Orlando. Italy. Germany. Washington, D.C. For Estefania Bohorquez, the journey is just beginning. And there are no boundaries. By Robert Stephens for UCF Today

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Shanice Jones

Christine Sleppy

Shanice Jones, ‘18

Christine Sleppy, ‘18

Program Pioneers

arning a degree is quite an accomplishment, but when you’re the first graduate of a new program, that’s really something to celebrate. This past spring, Christine Sleppy and Shanice Jones earned the distinction of being the first two UCF alumni to earn a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering. The degree is designed for those interested in the development of medical devices, virtual and robotic surgery, and the development of assistive and rehabilitative technology. “It feels rewarding and gratifying to be the first graduates of this program,” Sleppy said. “I have always wanted to be a biomedical engineer and was so excited that I was finally able to get this degree from UCF.” Sleppy and Jones were two of 15 students admitted to the first cohort in fall 2016. Both followed the biomechanics track, one of three tracks that allow students to tailor their academic experience around their career goals. The other two tracks are biofluids and bioengineering, which allows students to earn an M.S.BME and an M.D. simultaneously. “To be a black woman in a STEM program and the first to graduate in biomedical engineering, it feels surreal to be considered a pioneer,” Jones said. “My mother always raised me to make the most of my education, to be aware that it was a privilege not given to all, and having finished this program I feel that all my hard work is coming to fruition.” 8 | MOMENTUM Fall 2018

Jones began her education as an undergraduate student at EmbryRiddle University, where she studied mechanical engineering. The more she explored the diverse field, the more her focus naturally shifted to biomedical engineering. “I was interested in biomedical engineering when I discovered how you could break down the complex human systems into simpler solids, fluids and dynamic problems that engineers are familiar with,” Jones said. “The ability to solve problems in the medical field using engineering skillsets was what really brought my focus to biomedical engineering.” Her most challenging class from the program — biostructures — was also her favorite class as it gave her a chance to learn about the human body in a lab setting. She said that seeing the human body as it really is, and not through an illustration or diagram, left her with a profound appreciation for human biology. For Sleppy, spending time in the lab was not only enjoyable, but beneficial for her career. Through Lockheed Martin’s college work experience program, she had the opportunity to collaborate with Assistant Professor Helen Huang’s Biomechanics, Rehabilitation and Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Lab. Upon graduation, her dream of becoming a biomedical engineer came true when Lockheed Martin offered her a position with its ONYX exoskeleton technologies team, which designs support structures for soldiers

and first responders who carry out strenuous physical tasks in tough environments. “My expertise in biomedical engineering will be essential as the technology continues to evolve,” Sleppy said. “I would love to develop more human augmentation devices with Lockheed Martin in the future.” As for Jones, her goal is to use her knowledge learned from the M.S.BME program to develop new medical devices that are both comfortable for the patient and easy for doctors to use. Looking back on their experience at UCF, both veterans have words of advice for future biomedical engineering students. Sleppy advises that students plan their class schedules ahead of time while Jones recommends that students keep their career goals in mind as they navigate their college experience. “Start with your end goal – what is it you want to accomplish? What company do you want to work for? How will you get there? What internships, organizations, and classes will put you in the right place to accomplish that overall career goal?” Jones said. “To the young women who are currently in engineering, the ones who may be struggling, I would say to not let anyone deter you or shake you from your dream.”

To learn more about our Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering, visit



With passports and suitcases in tow, a group of Knights left UCF behind for the beloved vacation known as spring break. Their destination? São Paulo, Brazil. Their goal? To gain an international perspective on engineering — and to make loads of memories along the way.

A lthough the trip took place in March, the journey to Brazil began in January 2018 with the start of

“Contemporary Projects in Aerospace Manufacturing,” a class taught by Associate Professor Ali P. Gordon. Through the class, students learn about modern manufacturing methods through hands-on experiences, including tours of several manufacturing facilities in Florida. The highlight of the class is, of course, the trip to Brazil. Eight students — Alejandro Camacho, Eric Briggs, Kylan Brooks, Amy Lebanoff, Taiason Cole, Austin Searles, Omar Abdelbary and Jordyn Washington — went on the trip along with Gordon and Rodrigo Lenartowicz, the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering’s Coordinator of Administrative Services. During their 10-day stay, they visited the headquarters of aircraft manufacturer Embraer, where they saw the manufacturing and assembly of commercial and executive aircraft. They attended a lecture on aeroacoustics at the University of Campinas, and toured a high school sponsored by Embraer. But it wasn’t all about the academics. The group also explored several museums and an outdoor market, spent a little time at the beach, and indulged in the Brazilian cuisine. Searles, an aerospace engineering major, said the trip was a very positive experience that taught him more than any other class at UCF. “Not only did I have the opportunity to learn firsthand about the nuances of contemporary manufacturing processes, but I also learned about the design process behind the research and development phase in modern aerospace corporations,” Searles said. “This experience taught me more about the engineering process than any other class I have taken thus far. Not only did I learn valuable information about aircraft manufacturing, but I also made great friends and beneficial industry contacts.” UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering | 9

“My favorite part of the trip was when we had to opportunity to visit the commercial aircraft assembly line in São José dos Campos. It was an incredibly enlightening experience to see firsthand all the work and systems that go into manufacturing a modern aircraft.” -Austin Searles, aerospace engineering major

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“The trip was a combination of cultural, professional, and academic experiences. We began with culture in São Paulo, Brazil’s most populated city. Here, we explored the modern art museum, a market in Japantown, and the museum of football, among other destinations. Throughout the following week, we drove to five more cities; in each, we were exposed to a different aspect of the aerospace industry or engineering in general.” -Amy Lebanoff, mechanical engineering major

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“The last day of our trip was spent in a beach town on the east coast of Brazil...even after growing up in Florida, this beach town was by far the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen, with the Atlantic Ocean to the front of us and mountains at our back.” -Kylan Brooks, mechanical engineering major

“When we got to Brazil, I was excited to see how much Embraer’s headquarters differed from the one we went to in the U.S. Honestly, besides being much, much bigger and manufacturing different types of planes, the process was more or less the same. The engineers work the same hours as one would work in the U.S., and I didn’t really notice any differences. This actually helped me realize something about engineering. With globalization and the world being so connected these days, companies compete with each other all across the globe. Their products are held to basically the same standards, so regardless of culture, the engineering process is very similar. “ -Kylan Brooks 12 | MOMENTUM Fall 2018

“My favorite part of the trip was every meal we shared. It’s a given that Brazil’s cuisine is incredible, but the conversation and company were what made these moments unique...these meals were a time to reflect on what we had seen throughout the day and how those experiences might tie in with the engineering education we were receiving at UCF as well as a chance to bond with our peers and faculty trip leaders.” -Amy Lebanoff

“The memories you make and experiences you have on such a trip are unforgettable. I think I can speak for the nine others who traveled with me when I say you won’t want to miss this opportunity!” -Amy Lebanoff

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Associate Professor Thanks Her Role Model in Chevron Commercial W

ith two young kids to take care of and a husband 9,500 miles away in Singapore, graduate school was nothing less than chaotic for Seetha Raghavan. She was pursuing her doctoral degree at Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics after spending eight years working in the industry. While her heart was leading her down the road of research and academia, her mind was telling her to get through her studies — and get back to normal life — as quickly as possible. Thankfully, the voice of her advisor, Professor P.K. Imbrie, spoke loudest of all with words of support, guidance and encouragement. He taught her to slow down, have patience and to put the quality of her work ahead of the urge to complete her degree. If you’ve caught the latest Chevron commercial on TV, you’ve seen Raghavan, now an associate professor within the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, thanking 14 | MOMENTUM Fall 2018

Imbrie for telling her “You’ve got this.” Raghavan is one of several women in STEM featured in the commercial for Chevron’s Thank Your Role Model campaign, which celebrates the role models who have inspired women to seek careers in science, technology, engineering or math. “P.K. taught me all about what it takes to be a good researcher: independent thinking, the ability to adapt when things don’t work out the way you imagined (and believe me they often don’t), planning and organizing before executing experiments as well as perseverance,” Raghavan said. “He often told me about his own stories as a graduate student so I could relate.” Imbrie, now the head of the engineering education department at the University of Cincinnati, can also be seen in the commercial. He’s the “doer behind the doer” in the picture with Raghavan during her grad school days.

Within the field of engineering education, Imbrie is well-known. As his teaching assistant, Raghavan picked up some his techniques to train future engineers — techniques that she now uses in her classroom. “I was really lucky to have such a great role model,” Raghavan said. “P.K. was, and continues to be, such a great source of encouragement and… he never lets his students go hungry! As a professor, I constantly strive to be like him and pay it forward.” The mentee has certainly become a mentor to many aerospace engineering students at UCF. In the 10 years that she has been with the university, nine students from her research lab have been awarded Fulbright or National Science Foundation fellowships. Many others have conducted graduate-level research with or have been hired by top companies in the aerospace industry. Having faced her share of struggles

Seetha Raghavan and P.K. Imbrie

“ The best reward is when I see students

grow and succeed beyond what I could have ever imagined and it all happens right in front of me.

as a woman in a STEM-related field, Raghavan said she draws inspiration from the stories of the “real” people around her who have successfully overcome similar obstacles. In turn, she strives to be that real person when advising her students. “I try to be one of those ‘real’ people to everyone else just by being accessible to my students and by being candid in my role as an advisor. I am never hesitant to share my mistakes or failures along the path I took to build success — we grow the most from failures,” Raghavan said. “I constantly challenge my students to reach higher than what they think they are capable of.” Raghavan said that she is more than willing to provide mentorship and guidance to students because she wants them to take advantage of the opportunities that STEM has to offer. She has shared her story on the website EngineerGirl, a service of the National Academy of Engineering sponsored by Chevron, and has connected with many young girls around the world who have asked her questions about STEM. When looking for women to feature in their “Thank Your Role

Model” campaign, Chevron found Raghavan’s story on EngineerGirl and wanted to know more about her. They reached out to her, and they rest is now TV history. Now, when young girls look to her for support, guidance and encouragement, she tells them “You’ve got this.” “Whenever you hit a roadblock, use it to push yourself harder and you will find yourself coming out stronger and more confident to meet challenges you will face in future,” Raghavan said. “Look around you for inspiration — role models are there to show you that success often comes only after overcoming failures and that we are no different — we can get there too.”

Thank Your Role Model Visit to view Raghavan’s full video, to send a thank-you card to your role model, or to upload your own 15-second video thanking those who inspired you.

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It’s a SURE T

Discovering the winners of the UCF undergr Between classes, jobs, internships and extracurricular activities, many undergraduate students don’t have the time to even think about research, let alone participate in it. For those students, inspiration can be found at UCF’s Showcase of Undergraduate Research Excellence, which takes place every spring during Research Excellence Week. Students from all disciplines present their research and creative projects during SURE, and the best of the best receive scholarships for their work. Khanh Vo Mechanical Engineering “Receiving the Audience Choice Award was a surprise to me,” said mechanical engineering major Khanh Vo. “It made me happy that the work that my team, Raghavan and I had put in proved to be fruitful, and it serves as proof of my development as a researcher.” Vo won for his research, “Spectroscopic Analyses of Composite Materials Using a Spectroscopic Portable System,” which was supervised by Associate Professor Seetha Raghavan. His project focused on stress sensing coating, which is used for material development and for improved inspections on aircraft in the aerospace industry. Participating in research was a different world for Vo, who didn’t quite know what he could study or what impact his work could have when he joined the Raghavan Research Group in 2017. “I didn’t understand the significance of SURE and the lab environment that Raghavan had created until I had gone to the showcase that year and saw all of the posters,” Vo said. “Seeing the undergraduate research community at UCF presenting their posters made me more excited about my work and the potential of where it could go.” 16 | MOMENTUM Fall 2018

Grace Clayton Environmental Engineering

Environmental engineering major Grace Clayton’s research went all the way to the California — she presented it at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology’s annual conference in San Francisco before showing it at SURE. Her research, directed by Assistant Professor Andrew Dickerson, focused on the takeoff mechanics of mosquitoes, which hasn’t been studied to this extent before. Clayton’s interest is in biomimicry, an emerging field that isn’t well known to many professors and researchers. “Luckily my pursuits found a home in the Dickerson FaST Lab (Fluids And Structures Laboratory), where research is currently being conducted on all kinds of subjects, from orange peels and mosquitoes to water strider bugs and ants,” Clayton said. “I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn [from] and research with Dickerson and his lab, as well as being able to present our findings and receive the Judges Choice award.”


graduate research showcase The Winners

This year, 14 of the 41 research projects presented by students from the College of Engineering and Computer Science were advised by mechanical and aerospace engineering faculty. Four of those projects were named Judges Choice Award winners for the college and one also received an Audience Choice Award.

Sierra Condo and Leslie Simms Mechanical Engineering

Khanh Vo Audience Choice Judges Choice “Spectroscopic Analyses of Composite Materials Using a Spectroscopic Portable System” Advisor: Seetha Raghavan, Ph.D. Brian Solar Judges Choice “Identifying Lung Volume Phase from Sensiocardiograms: Advisor: Hansen Mansy, Ph.D. Grace Clayton Judges Choice “Mosquitoes Modulate Takeoff to Accommodate Surface Texture” Advisor: Andrew Dickerson, Ph.D.

For Judges Choice Award winners Sierra Condo and Leslie Simms, presenting at SURE has been an annual tradition for the past three years. Under the guidance of Associate Professor Hansen Mansy, Condo and Simms presented “Effects of Intracranial Pressure on Tympanometric Parameters” this year. Through their research, they explored the use of tympanometry, a process of creating variations in air pressure to test the middle ear, as a noninvasive tool to provide information on intracranial pressure. “It is so exciting to receive the Judges Choice Award,” Condo said. “Leslie and I have put our hearts and many long hours into our research. It is so refreshing and inspiring to be rewarded for all the hard work we

have done.” As a veteran of the showcase, Simms describes it as an “exciting day of conversation and appreciation for research,” and encourages other students take advantage of the opportunity to participate in it. “UCF places a lot of effort in creating a welcoming and supportive research environment for all students on campus,” Simms said. “UCF wants its students to gain research experience, receive rewards and grow into confident professionals. Taking advantage of events like SURE will give your resume a major makeover and will give you professional experience that will prepare you for graduate school or a position in your field.”

Sierra Condo, Leslie Simms and Sarah Mansy “Effects of Intracranial Pressue on Tympanometric Parameters” Advisor: Hansen Mansy, Ph.D.

UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering | 17

Her Future is Fulbright N ot every student has a chance to study in Germany, let alone two

chances. But Linda Rossmann hit the research jackpot. The mechanical engineering alumna who previously conducted research at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) traveled back there in fall 2018 as part of the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. Rossmann is one of six UCF students who received Fulbright scholarships this year. Through the program, she’ll spend 10 months in Cologne studying thermal barrier coatings, which allow gas turbine engines to withstand extreme temperatures. “We have a collaboration with NASA Glenn where they’re developing a new method of producing these coatings,” Rossmann said. “This new method could be a lot cheaper and economical but the effects it has on the resulting properties of the coating aren’t really known. So I’m studying thermal barrier coatings that were made by this new method and also the industry standard to look at the differences.” The samples that she has studied at UCF will travel with her to the DLR, where she’ll work with worldrenowned experts in thermal barrier coatings. Her supervisor there is Marion Bartsch, whom Rossmann worked with during her first trip to Germany as part of the International Research Experience for Students

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Mechanical engineering alumna Linda Rossmann, ‘17

program, funded by the National Science Foundation. During that trip, Rossmann studied superalloys — the materials used to make the gas turbine engines that are covered in thermal barrier coatings — and the differences between those that are manufactured through 3D printing and those that are manufactured traditionally. That summer spent in Germany was also Rossmann’s first semester as a graduate student. She is now studying materials science and engineering and expects to graduate in spring 2019. But Rossmann never planned to become an engineer. Before earning her undergraduate B.S.ME, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from the University of Florida. Her goal was to become a fashion photographer, but her passion for science slowly overcame her love of art. “One day my mother and I were visiting the Kennedy Space Center, which we do every year, and I saw a college robotics competition and I felt a stab of ‘Wow, I really missed out, didn’t I?” Rossmann said. “And my friends and family said ‘You know, it’s not too late. You can go back to school.’ So then I did. It suits my personality a lot better.” Rossman said she chose to stay at UCF because of the opportunities afforded to her through Raghavan’s lab, the Raghavan Research Group.

One of her favorite experiences as a Knight was being able to participate in Camp Connect, a week-long summer camp at UCF that introduces teenagers to the world of engineering. “It was a lot of fun. The kids got really into it. I went sort of off topic and off activity and just started telling them about things that I thought were really cool,” Rossmann said. “And they got excited. There was one little girl in particular whose eyes went so big when I said a particularly cool thing and I hope that she decided to go into engineering.” The next steps for Rossmann include graduation and publication. She presented her research at a conference earlier this year and is now turning that presentation into a full-length journal article. Long-term, she’s hoping to channel this work into a career as a NASA researcher. Until then, you can find Rossmann in a lab doing what she does best — investigating, experimenting and discovering. “It’s like in classwork — generally there is one correct answer, and you got it or you didn’t. But in research, there are many answers and various ones could be better or worse. But there’s no one single absolute correct answer that you know you have to get or you got it wrong,” Rossmann said. “And using the fancy equipment is cool, too.”

Aerospace engineering alumna Emily Judd, ‘16

When I applied to UCF, I wanted to be a music teacher. That goal

changed after seeing a NASA rocket launch. Fortunately, my advisors and professors helped me pursue both of my passions, which led to double majors of music performance on horn and aerospace engineering. Designing, building, and launching rockets with Students for the Exploration and Development of Space got me hooked on aerospace. As a SEDS officer, I toured NASA centers and met with congressional staffers to discuss space policy. A chance encounter at a National Merit event led to a research position investigating mechanics of materials. These experiences, along with a National Science Foundation internship, shifted my career goals again, going from an industry focus to research and development. After graduating from UCF in 2016, I interned at NASA Langley Research Center, developing nanocomposite materials for aerospace structures. It was especially fun since most of the other interns were material scientists or chemists, so they were looking at the samples from a molecular point of view while I was looking at the larger picture of aircraft and spacecraft structures. This past year was my first in the Ph.D. program at the University of Michigan. I’m in the climate and space sciences and engineering department rather than the aerospace

Flying High:


Alumna Emily Judd’s Success After Graduation

department. Besides working more closely on space-specific projects, I can learn more space physics and atmospheric chemistry. I also contributed to a couple of CubeSat missions, doing data processing for one and running solar power and orbit analyses for one that will launch next year. My current research project is developing a global model of the atmosphere on Venus. This is great practice for learning new programming skills. This summer, I presented my progress at my first research conference. Listening to the speakers opened my eyes to what is going on in my new field of interest. In addition, my experience as a UCF Scholars Program Assistant paid off as I’ve been selected as a department student ambassador this year. It’s basically the same type of work we did [previously] but scaled down to just our department; I will miss driving a golf cart around for campus tours! Of course, I’m still playing music. With Michigan’s fine music school, there are plenty of ways to keep

involved. I’m playing horn in the Michigan Pops Orchestra and the Campus Symphony Orchestra. We had fantastic repertoire this past year, and I played the solos for Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess and Brahms’ Symphony No. 2. Pops has a space theme for this fall’s concert — I love when I can blend my two interests! From performing at the Dr. Phillips Center to getting VIP passes for the Orion EFT-1 launch at the Kennedy Space Center, UCF gave me the opportunity to explore my interests and succeed, no matter which career path I chose. Even though it was a big step for a rural Iowan to move to Florida and attend such a large school, I am so glad that I did. Written by Emily Judd for the Burnett Honors College Spotlight

Are you an MAE alum? Visit the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences Alumni Corner at

UCF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering | 19


Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering College of Engineering and Computer Science University of Central Florida 12760 Pegasus Drive Orlando, FL 32816-2205



Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering

Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering

Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering

Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering

26 | MOMENTUM Fall 2018