The AIMS Lab at the University of Michigan (Umich) is run by Daniel J. Inman (Clarence “Kelly” Johnson Professor, Department Chair of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan) and investigates methods of advancing the field of aerospace engineering through energy harvesting, structural damping, and aircraft morphing.
AIMS research is the culmination of the study of controls, fluid dynamics, structural dynamics, and materials science that make up aerospace engineering as a whole. What makes the AIMS Lab unique is that our research embraces many of these fields. Overall, we strive to develop innovative and novel solutions to complex aerospace engineering dilemmas via smart materials and structures but we take a multidisciplinary approach by working at the intersection of simulated and experimental structural dynamics. Ultimately, this applies to a wide variety of research including energy harvesting, structural damping, and aircraft morphing.
The Adaptive Materials and Structures Laboratory, directed by Professor John Shaw, is dedicated to the fundamental research of thermo-mechanical coupled field effects in complex materials, especially shape memory alloys (SMAs) and elastomeric components at elevated temperatures.
The AMS laboratory is equipped with three general purpose testing machines for stiff materials such as metals and composites, soft materials such as elastomers and for impact and cyclic tests. We can also control temperature through environmental chambers through air temperature, thermoelectric devices and a fluid circulator bath.
Thermal analysis equipment, including a differential scanning calorimeter are dynamic mechanical analyzer, is available for accurate thermodynamic materials characterization. It provides heat capacity and latent heat measurements as well as accurate dynamic and static measurement of thermomechanical properties of small, or low force, specimens.
Various optical imaging equipment and infrared imaging equipment are available for full-field deformation and temperature field measurements, respectively. This equipment can accurately measure and post-process temperature fields as temperature color contours. It has been used quite effectively in the past for the thermo-mechanical characterization of shape memory alloys that exhibit stress-induced exothermic (and endothermic) phase transformations.
A custom-built membrane inflation facility is available that can be used to perform experiments on pressurized thin membrane specimens, elastomers or thin film SMAs, at elevated temperature. Through the use of multiple CCD cameras, photogrammetry has been performed to measure to the non-uniform multiaxial strain field on the surface of the membranes.
A2SRL is about people! Directed by Professor Carlos Cesnik, a vibrant world-class group of students and faculty engage in the exploration of multidisciplinary problems related to airplanes, helicopters, and reusable launch vehicles. The current A2SRL research focuses on aeroelastic structures, active structures and structural health monitoring applied to different aerospace systems. Theoretical, numerical and experimental studies supported by the Department of Defense, NASA and the private sector are conducted in especially dedicated experimental and computational facilities. A2SRL also houses a hover test stand facility specially design and built to test up to ten-foot-diameter Mach-scale active helicopter rotors.
Professor Joaquim R. R. A. Martins founded the Multidisciplinary Design Optimization (MDO) Laboratory research group in 2002. Research in the MDO Lab embraces both the theory and applications perspectives. On the theory side, we develop numerical methods that are applicable to a wide range of problems. Much of our work has focused on the accurate and efficient computation of derivatives to aid gradient-based optimization methods, but derivatives have many other applications. The complex-step method for computing derivatives, for example, has been applied to a wide range of disciplines, including geophysics, biotechnology and statistics. We have written a survey of MDO architectures, and we are constantly looking for opportunities to improve these architectures. We are currently collaborating with NASA in the development of OpenMDAO, a framework to facilitate the application of MDO to real world engineering design problems.
On the applications side, our focus has been on the optimization of aircraft configurations with the objective of minimizing environmental impact. Much of our effort has been in researching methods to enable high-fidelity aerostructural optimization, which optimizes aerodynamic shape and structural sizing simultaneously, leading to the optimal aeroelastic tailoring of wings. This led to the development of the framework for MDO of aircraft configurations with high fidelity (MACH). Using this framework, we have found wing shapes that minimize takeoff weight and fuel burn for a given mission, as well as configurations that minimize the aggregate fuel burn for thousands of missions. We have also considered the optimization of composite laminates and compared optimal metallic wings with composite ones. Another potential of application of aerostructural optimization is in the design of wind turbines.
The Multi-Scale Structural Simulations Laboratory (MSSL) is directed by Professor Veera Sundararaghavan. Our interests are in the areas of computational mechanics, multi-scale materials modeling and optimization with emphasis on prediction, and design of properties in aerospace materials. Multi-scale models resolve interactions of material structure and mechanisms at electronic (ab-initio), atomistic (molecular dynamics), micro (mechanics of slip), meso and macro (finite element models) scales. We develop models to address key aerospace issues such as optimization of material properties, computation of property degradation in high temperature environments and design of failure-resistant microstructures.
The FXB Center for Rotary and Fixed-Wing Air Vehicle Design (CRFWAD) includes professors Dennis Bernstein, Carlos Cesnik, Peretz Friedmann, Kenneth Powell, John Shaw and Anthony Waas. The Center focuses on innovative research on topics that represent barrier issues in rotary and fixed wing air vehicle design, combined with providing a first rate education in these fields. It also serves as a depository of design tools required for providing undergraduate and graduate students with an ideal environment in which modern multidisciplinary design can be taught and practiced.
The Center educates engineers with a systems vision capable of interfacing with the multidisciplinary requirements of advanced aerospace vehicles. This is closely integrated with its research mission that is to lead in the development of advanced concepts for future aircraft systems. It focuses on multidisciplinary issues that play key roles in the design of manned and unmanned air vehicles.
Currently, the areas being emphasized are interactions between computational aeroelasticity and aerodynamics, controls, flight mechanics, active materials, and composite structures. For the rotorcraft activities, the focus is on the development of vehicles with low vibrations and noise levels, good damage tolerance characteristics, low weight and low cost. For fixed wing vehicles, the current emphasis is hypersonic vehicles and high performance UAVs. These are reflected on several sponsored research programs that involves several funding agencies (ARO/ARL, AFOSR/AFRL, NASA, and DARPA).
The Constellation University Institutes Project (CUIP) is a consortium of approximately 20 universities in the United States working through a cooperative agreement with NASA to focus on addressing key technical challenges of the NASA Constellation Program. To this end, the portfolio of CUIP is comprised of the following key technical areas, or virtual institutes (VIs):
NASA centers heavily involved in Constellation application of these technical areas are engaged in extensive technical collaboration with the university researchers through research tasks. This collaboration is integrated within the Constellation Program and occurs for Constellation Program Level II Offices, the Crew Launch Vehicle Project, the Crew Exploration Vehicle Project, the Lunar Lander Project and other Constellation Projects that are established over the course of the program. Ms. Claudia Meyer and Dr. Jeff Rybak are, respectively, NASA CUIP Manger and Deputy Manager.
There are over 50 baselined research task plans within the CUIP, of which the University of Michigan has the largest share, leading about 25 percent of the tasks and the budget. The Aero faculty members currently actively involved in the CUIP project include Professors Carlos Cesnik, Iain Boyd and Wei Shyy.
The François-Xavier Bagnoud Flight Vehicle Institute (FVI) was founded in 2007 with the generous support of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Association. An integral part of the Aerospace Engineering Department, the Institute focuses on research and educational topics motivated by flight vehicles in an educational setting. These topics are broad in scope and include issues related to airplanes, helicopters, rockets, satellites and interplanetary missions. The institute also sponsors workshops, scholarly reports, visiting researchers and guest lectures, including the François-Xavier Bagnoud Lecture in Aerospace Engineering.
The Michigan/Air Force Center of Excellence in Electric Propulsion (MACEEP) is directed by Professor Alec Gallimore. It fosters collaboration among participating universities to enhance the research and development of plasma propulsion systems and materials processing.