First-year USU doctoral student earns major NASA Fellowship

USU Engineering PhD student Jeff Taylor is one of five people nationwide to receive a prestigious fellowship from NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. (Matt Jensen/USU)

Jeff Taylor, a first-year Ph.D. student in Utah State University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, has earned one of only five fellowships from NASA’s top aeronautics research division.

Under the direction of his major adviser Dr. Doug Hunsaker, Taylor is working to better understand morphing-wing aircraft.

Taylor said there are mechanisms inside these morphing wings that can change the shape of the wing dynamically during flight.

“Most morphing mechanisms will change the cross-sectional shape of the wing, at different points along the wing,” Taylor explained. “That allows the user of the mechanism, the pilot, to change the aerodynamic characteristics of the wing during flight.”

He explains two primary goals this research hopes to achieve.

“Developing an air frame, or the actual physical aircraft or physical wing that is more efficient, and another side would be looking at more efficient engines and things like that.

“And, yes, we are really looking at drastically improving the fuel economy of the aircraft.”

Jeff will receive $55,000 a year for three years to cover tuition expenses and a yearly 10-week stay at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

Dr. Hunsaker said the award is a win for his student and for USU.

“This is not only a significant honor for Jeff, but also a great opportunity for USU to work closely with NASA on critical aerospace technologies,” Hunsaker said. “We hope this will develop into a coordinated effort between USU and NASA to significantly improve the efficiency of future commercial aircraft.”

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