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April 16, 2018

Research Symposium Series: Diane Aloisio, Matthew Tanner, & Ryan Tancin

Event Date: April 16, 2018
Hosted By: Aero Assist
Time: 4:00 pm
Location: ARMS 1103
Priority: No
School or Program: Aeronautics and Astronautics
College Calendar: Hide
AAE Research Symposium 2018 is an annual research symposium organized by AeroAssist which gives an excellent opportunities to the undergraduate and graduate students in the School of Aeronautics to showcase their research and win amazing prizes worth $1300.00. There will also be FREE dinner and drinks during the presentations.

Diane Aloisio

Understanding failures in systems engineering

Why do failures occur in systems engineering? Despite our best efforts, systems engineering continues to fail, and the rate of failures shows no sign of decreasing. One reason for this lack of progress may be that we do not have a sufficiently rich and nuanced understanding of why failures occur. In my doctoral research, I argue that accidents and other systems engineering failures are manifestations of similar underlying problems. Therefore, we can leverage the literature on accident causation, as well as the many publicly available accident investigation reports, to better understand how project failures occur, and to identify ways of preventing them. Using a set of 30 accidents and 33 project failures, spanning a range of industries, we identified 23 different accident and project failure causes and 16 different recommended remedial actions. We constructed an online network that shows how the causes are linked to each other and to the recommendations, that provides specific examples of how these causes manifested in failures, and specific examples of the associated recommended remedial actions. Our network puts these causes and recommendations at an organization’s fingertips; providing an “instant-expertise” tool for anyone investigating problems as well as potential remediation measures for these problems.

Matthew Tanner

Analysis of an ablatively cooled chamber in a liquid oxygen/methane rocket engine using advanced electron microscopy

Methane fueled rocket engines are an active area of research due to the potential for manufacturing methane in-situ via the Sabatier process. Ablative materials are a popular choice for thermal management in rocket combustors due to their simplicity, but regression rates have not been characterized in a methane/oxygen engine at high pressures. This project attempts to quantify the linear regression rate of silica phenolic over several burn times, while additionally comparing the tomography/morphology of the phenolic before and after ablation. The engine was constructed and fired at Zucrow Laboratories for the FAR MARS competition. The linear regression rate of the phenolic at the throat of the chamber is measured before and after firing. The linear regression rate is also calculated to find the regression rate as a function of the recorded pressure. Additionally, a dual beam SEM is used for imaging and micron-scale characterization of the phenolic. The linear ablation rate of silica phenolic is determined, and SEM images provide important data regarding the evolution of surface structures in the phenolic. The results this study provide the first data set on ablation rates of silica phenolic in a methalox engine at pressures as high as 550 psia.

Ryan Tancin

Characterizing microstructural damage in a pintle injector used in a liquid oxygen/methane rocket engine

The pintle injector is an attractive choice for liquid rocket engines due to its inherent stability and deep throttling capabilities. Being able to characterize the formation of fractures in a pintle injector, especially with respect to a methane-oxygen combustion, can inform design changes that increase the lifetime of reusable engines. Advanced microscopy is used to examine points of high stress on a pintle injector to correlate microfracture creation and propagation with stress in a fired methalox engine. The test engine is designed, built, and tested at Zucrow Laboratories as an entry into the FAR MARS competition. Temperature, pressure, and mass flow data is recorded during the engine test. The pintle and annulus of the injector is examined for micrometer scale fractures, using a FEI Quanta DB-SEM. The resulting images are compared to a baseline sample from an unfired engine. Elemental analysis is also be applied to parts of the injector to see if the extreme temperature and pressure environment alters the material surface composition. This study provides a pioneering data set on how harsh conditions inside of a methalox rocket combustor effect high stress regions of injector elements.

What is the Research Symposium Series?

The Research Symposium Series is a department-sponsored forum for graduate students and advanced-level undergraduates to present their research to a general audience.

The Research Symposium Series is designed to: 

  • Facilitate the exchange of ideas and knowledge among faculty and graduate students.
  • Provide opportunities for students to develop their technical presentation skills.
  • Promote the research activities of the department to undergraduates and other interested individuals.

2018 Prizes

  • $500, $300, $200 for best three presentations
  • $150 for best undergraduate presentation
  • $150 for best abstract


Questions about the Research Symposium Series may be directed to:
*Winners in the presentation category cannot compete in that category the following year. The same applies for winners in the abstract category.