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Michael J. Barrett
University of Houston

The core of my doctoral research examines heat transfer in highly turbulent flow environments. High-turbulence heat transfer questions relate directly to the design of rocket combustion chambers and nozzles, power generation devices, and propellant distribution systems. The same basic principles also apply to the thermal management of human habitation modules, avionics compartments, aerodynamic surfaces, and space suit thermal jackets. The products of my doctoral research will immediately benefit engineers that design and operate these space systems. Additionally, technological advances in these types of space systems will transfer to commercial applications ranging from the production of electricity to the cooling of personal computer circuit boards.

My academic and professional pursuits have centered on space-related topics since 1985. My areas of concentration as an undergraduate were propulsion and aerodynamics. My interest in spacecraft propulsion brought me to Texas and the NASA Johnson Space Center. At NASA I gained experience in the design, development, and test of space hardware for the Space Shuttle, the Space Station, and for advanced development programs. While working full-time, I completed my Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering specializing in fluid mechanics and the thermal sciences. After I complete my doctoral studies, I plan to seek a position in engineering education. Working as a laboratory teaching assistant this past year has strengthened my desire to teach. I feel that the combination of my academic background and my industry experience will give me special insight into teaching engineering topics at the collegiate level.

This year's research activities are concentrating on the establishment of the objectives of my research program. To ensure the industrial applicability of my research, the experimental objectives are being coordinated with Dr. Forrest Ames of the Allison Gas Turbine Company - a major manufacturer of gas turbines for aerospace and power generation applications. Dr. Ames' involvement will maximize the program's technology transfer potential. Advice is also being sought from Dr. Raymond Gaugler at the NASA Lewis Research Center; Dr. Gaugler is a nationally recognized expert in high-turbulence heat transfer. By the end of the spring semester I will have completed all but one of my course requirements (18 of 21 hours) and I hope to have my research objectives clearly defined.


Wednesday, 26-Mar-2003 21:48:05 CST