Our research in computational aerosciences is driven by the daring technologies underlying next-generation aerospace systems.
It spans both extremes of the dimensionality spectrum: physics-based, high-fidelity computational models aimed at furthering our understanding of complex phenomena in turbulence, aeroacoustics, aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, aerothermomechanics and many other multidisciplinary areas relevant to aerospace engineering sciences; and reduced-order models for all the pressing engineering problems that require real-time simulation responses, such as the rapid exploration of a design space or optimal control.
Aerospace vehicles and systems face unique design and performance challenges from diverse fields. They must not only fly efficiently and safely, but also be agile and maneuverable while minimizing their impact on the environment (pollution) and the community (noise). Aerospace analysis, design and optimization are therefore intrinsically multidisciplinary.
Managing the development cost of new, complex aerospace systems that push the frontiers of available technology requires continuing development of computation-based predictive tools so that model-scale and full-scale tests are conducted only when necessary. During the past 30 years, computational simulations centered mostly on particular disciplines such as aerodynamics, propulsion, structural and vibration analysis, acoustics and electromagnetics, to name a few. They have dramatically impacted aerospace design. Coupling certain disciplines to enable aerostructural and aerothermal analysis, for example, has also dramatically reduced the need for full-scale tests.
More importantly, future aerospace vehicles and systems will need to be significantly more fuel efficient and environmentally compatible. Revolutionary technologies that allow significant reduction in structural weight (e.g., multifunctional composites), improved aerodynamic performance during takeoff, cruise and landing, and off-design conditions — all the while lowering the noise footprint, increasing reliability and reducing the lifecycle costs — will require novel concepts.
These concepts must leverage benefits from the coupling of effects arising in different disciplinary domains, such as reconfigurable flexible wings and control surfaces, integrated propulsion and airframe, distributed control and actuation, active materials, and many more. Our research in computational aerosciences is therefore directed at scientific advances underlying these future aerospace technologies, especially multidisciplinary analysis, design and optimization. It is performed in several research laboratories, including the:
- Flow Physics and Aeroacoustics Laboratory, led by Professor Sanjiva Lele.
- Plasma Dynamics Modeling Laboratory (PDML), led by Professor Kentaro Hara.
- Farhat Research Group (FRG), led by Professor Charbel Farhat.
- Aerospace Design Lab (ADL), led by Professor Juan Alonso.
The scope of our research in this field ranges from physics- and data-driven modeling, to novel computational algorithms that maintain a strong partnership with the ongoing advances in computer science and computer hardware; hybrid computational approaches that balance the needs for accuracy at a reduced computational cost; and nonlinear model reduction methodologies that enable practical uncertainty analysis, computational-based design and optimization, and optimal control.