Aerospace engineering grad student wins awards for aeropropulsive design optimization research advances

Anil Yildirim receives AIAA Air Breathing Propulsion Graduate Award and Best Student Paper in MDO at AIAA Aviation Forum

Aerospace engineering doctoral candidate Anil Yildirim, a member of Joaquim Martins’ research group, won the 2021 AIAA Gordon C. Oates Air Breathing Propulsion Graduate Award for his contributions to design optimization frameworks that accelerate the development of next generation aircraft, while maintaining performance and safety.

Portrait of Anil Yildirim

His aeropropulsive design optimization tools help solve complex design problems that engineers encounter in creating more energy-efficient aircraft. 

According to Yildirim, one way the aerospace industry can increase aircraft efficiency is by introducing boundary layer ingestion (BLI) to the next generation of planes. BLI involves integrating the propulsion systems to the airframe rather than under the wings with a conventional design. 

This radical new design allows air flowing over the aircraft body to mix with air going into the engine, which ultimately improves aeropropulsive performance. The end result is an aircraft that burns less fuel in the engines, while lowering emissions and the cost to operate the aircraft. 

“Even though BLI offers significant aeropropulsive benefits, its design is challenging due to the tightly coupled nature of these systems,” Yildirim said. “When you try to get efficiency by coupling the airframe and propulsion systems, you get these really challenging design problems.”

Using his new framework, Yildirim performed a series of coupled aeropropulsive design optimizations to quantify the benefit of BLI to NASA’s STARC-ABL 150-passenger concept aircraft that bridges the gap between current jet fuel-powered planes and future all-electric vehicles. He conducted these tests in collaboration with researchers at the NASA Glenn Research Center.

A U-M FXB Fellow, Yildirim also won a 2021 Best Student Paper Award in Multidisciplinary Design Optimization at the AIAA Aviation Forum in August. His award-winning paper, “Coupled Aeropropulsive Design Optimization of a Podded Electric Propulsor,” was a collaborative effort with U-M Aerospace Engineering faculty Charles Mader and Joaquim Martins and U-M Aerospace Engineering alumnus Justin Gray (PhD 2018) who is a researcher at NASA Glenn.


Michigan Aerospace logo

Michigan Aerospace Engineering

Communications Team