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Aerospace engineering doctoral student earns NASA Pathways internship

January 27, 2017

Cody Ground, a doctoral student in The University of Texas at Arlington's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, has earned a prestigious Pathways internship with the Hypersonic Air-Breathing Propulsion Branch at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

Ground, who earned a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering from UTA in 2012, is enrolled in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department's B.S. to Ph.D. program. He is exploring hypersonic mixing and injection for scramjet applications.

Through Pathways, he will complete a 460-hour internship as a member of the research team while writing his dissertation, with an opportunity to be hired full-time at the end of his term.

"This is an exciting opportunity because it gives me a clear way to transition from the academic world to a career with NASA. I think every aerospace engineer starts out with a dream to work at NASA someday, and this internship gets me one step closer to realizing that dream," Ground said.

Ground began working with Associate Professor Luca Maddalena at UTA's Aerodynamics Research Center as a sophomore through the Arlington Undergraduate Research-based Achievement for STEM program. As he became more involved in the research, he decided to enter the B.S. to Ph.D. program.

"Cody joined my research group when he was a sophomore and since day one has been one of our most productive, creative and committed students. He has been an example of dedication and professionalism and I am extremely proud, being his mentor, that his hard work has been rewarded," Maddalena said. "I have no doubt he will have a successful and wonderful tenure at NASA. It is extremely gratifying seeing our students jumping from UTA to their dream jobs."

A ramjet uses its own supersonic speed to compress incoming air in its engine before combustion, but the air flow slows to subsonic speeds as it enters the engine. A scramjet - supersonic combusting ramjet - maintains a supersonic airflow in the engine, which allows the vehicle to reach and maintain speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, which is 768 mph. The challenge is finding a way for air and fuel to mix and achieve combustion with such fast airflow, which Ground likens to trying to light a match -- and keep it lit -- during a hurricane.
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The Aerodynamics Research Center has existed at the university in one form or another since the 1930s when it was originally an aircraft maintenance and fabrication facility. The present facility was built in 1986, allowing a large expansion of equipment which now includes low-speed, transonic, supersonic, arc jet and hypersonic tunnels. Current research has focused on experimental high-speed and high-temperature aerodynamics, shock/boundary layer interaction, and detonation. In addition to the experimental facilities, there are extensive capabilities to study and test aerodynamic models using computational fluid dynamics.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 "highest research activity" institution. With a projected global enrollment of close to 57,000 in AY 2016-17, UTA is one of the largest institutions in the state. Guided by its Strategic Plan Bold Solutions | Global Impact, UTA fosters interdisciplinary research and education within four broad themes: health and the human condition, sustainable urban communities, global environmental impact, and data-driven discovery. UTA was recently cited by U.S. News & World Report as having the second lowest average student debt among U.S. universities. U.S. News & World Report also ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times' 2017 Best for Vets list.

University of Texas at Arlington

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