MDO Lab Team Wins Best Paper for Pioneering Turbofan Engine Design Optimization

AIAA awards the team of researchers with the 2023 Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Best Paper award

We proudly recognize PhD student Andrew Lamkin, Post Doctoral Research Fellow Anil Yildirim, Professor of Aerospace Engineering Joaquim R.R.A. Martins, and Nathan Wukie from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for receiving the 2023 AIAA Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Best Paper Award. Their award-winning paper, funded by the AFRL-Michigan Collaborative Center for Aerospace Vehicle Design, is titled, “Advancements in Coupled Aeropropulsive Design Optimization for High-Bypass Turbofan Engines.” 

The Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Laboratory (MDO Lab) team developed a novel approach to turbofan engine design which uses multidisciplinary optimization techniques that consider the interactions between aerodynamic shape and thermodynamics. The approach combines computational fluid dynamics solvers with thermodynamic cycle modeling to evaluate the turbofan engine performance and numerical optimization to automatically design the engine nacelle shape and engine cycle parameters.

“I am honored to receive this award and recognition for years of learning and dedicated research,” said Lamkin. “This achievement is the culmination of a lineage of research from the MDO Lab, focused on automating engine design through multidisciplinary optimization. Our methods mark the first steps in reshaping the conventional propulsion design process to propel the next generation of fuel-efficient aircraft.”

This novel approach could significantly shorten the design cycle time and reduce research and development costs for engine and aircraft manufacturers. This has become even more important with the introduction of new fuels and propulsion architectures for sustainable aviation. 

“We have been working on this difficult problem for many years,” said Dr. Yildirim. “Starting with the work by Dr. Justin Gray at the University of Michigan and NASA Glenn Research center, we have been putting together the pieces necessary to tackle this enormous problem. It is very exciting to see that years of effort by several people is coming together.”

The significance of their work was highlighted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Award, established in 1993, recognizing their outstanding contributions to advancing techniques in multidisciplinary design optimization. This award honors individuals for their “outstanding contributions to the development and/or application of techniques of multidisciplinary design optimization in the context of aerospace engineering.” 

“This award reflects Andrew’s exceptional persistence and ingenuity in solving such a challenging problem. This is the future of aircraft engine design, especially as we look towards carbon-free fuels such as hydrogen,” commented Professor Martins about their hard work and achievements.