Posted on October 12, 2021 by Rory Dew

October 12, 2021 – Dr. Christopher Combs, Dee Howard Endowed Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UTSA, recently secured a grant of roughly $1.5 million to study modeling and experimental measurements of hypersonic separation events.

The grant, awarded by the University Consortium for Applied Hypersonics (UCAH) in collaboration with the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and Joint Hypersonics Transition Office (JHTO), will fund one graduate research assistant position and two undergraduate research assistant positions over the next three years at UTSA. The bolstered research capabilities will allow UTSA to strengthen the pipeline of technically proficient professionals prepared to contribute to the development of hypersonic platforms.

The program begins this month and will run through September 2024. Lead by Dr. Christopher Combs and UTSA, it also involves representatives from OEM Lockheed Martin, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Southwest Research Institute (SWRI), The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Research funded by this grant will help to address the design and implementation challenges related to detachable vehicular support elements in hypersonic system design.

“Separation events are such a complex part of the hypersonic flight challenge,” said Dr. Combs. “Depending on your vehicle, you could have motor stages, boosters, or protective shrouds separating when a vehicle is moving at high speed. There are some messy aerodynamic effects that can happen in these situations that are very difficult to model. It’s exciting to bring together this talented team to use state-of-the-art experimentation to build a database to help develop computational models that will improve vehicle design. The neat thing about UCAH is that this will be student-centric, and this project will help us train the next generation of leaders in hypersonics research while solving real-world problems.”

This research is another example of UTSA’s growing footprint in aerospace. Interested students are encouraged to learn more about UTSA’s new aerospace engineering certificate . For more updates on this project and other related research at UTSA, follow Dr. Combs on Twitter ( @DrChrisCombs ).

— Rory Dew