Research Projects

The first week of the research experience will mainly focus on an introductory short course taught by Drs. Kenneth Flurchick, Vinayak Kabadi, and Paul Stanfield. An outline of the course is provided here.


Below are short statements of seven sample projects:


Shock Motion in Supersonic Vehicles (Dr. Sun Yi)

One of the major tasks in development of autonomous control solutions for stable operation of supersonic vehicles is creating mathematical models that better represent the transient dynamics of shock motion inside supersonic combustion ramjet (or scramjet) engines.

Participants will conduct analysis of data sets already collected from the wind tunnel experiments where back pressure is input and corresponding shock position is output. Then mathematical modeling based on the analysis results will follow. Plans are to develop first and second-order models that are reasonably accurate but low order to be used in designing feedback controllers.



Eco-hydrological Modeling of Watershed (Dr. Manoj Jha)

Spatio-temporal variability in the amount and timing of precipitation and resulting surface water availability are interlinked with ecological systems through complex feedback and non-linear relationships. Modeling and simulation of water cycle in a closed system such as watershed provides a very useful mean to understand these linkages and allow scenario analyses of various water management strategies. In this exercise, we will apply modeling and simulation technique in a small watershed located in the 492-acre research farm at N.C. A & T State University.

The farm has historically been used for many agriculture-related research activities, part of which lead to an excessive transport of nutrients to the waterbodies within the farm and ultimately nearby streams. The hydrologic modeling framework integrated within the GIS environment will be developed to simulate the region’s hydrology. Input data including watershed’s topographical properties, soil types and characteristics, land cover and land use, and weather information will be collected from various sources. After a successful attempt of calibration and validation, the computational modeling framework will be utilized for scenario evaluation of the impact assessment due to changes in land use and climate in watershed hydrology and stream-flow.

Key words: water cycle, physically based modeling and simulation, SWAT, GIS interface, data assimilation, land use change, climate change


Computational Biomechanics (Dr. Matthew McCullough)

The field of musculoskeletal biomechanics is gaining importance as the number of
individuals in need of orthopedic procedures is on the rise. The development of cutting edge devices and materials have generated a need to better understand the impact on the human body.

Computational analysis, built upon solid mathematical theory is ready to address many concerns. In particular research projects within this area will focus on computational based medical device design and analysis, as well as modeling bone physiological response. More specifically students will used finite element analysis, a robust modeling platform, to design and test screws, plates, and pins. They will come away with key modeling skills that will be applicable in numerous areas.


Modeling Donor Behavior in Non-Profit Food Distribution Organizations (Dr. Lauren Davis)

Non-profit food distribution (NPFD) organizations provide food to charitable agencies that serve the food insecure population. NPFDs primarily obtain food through donations from large retail stores, local manufacturers, farmers, community serving organizations and concerned citizens. Food donations vary significantly in quantity and frequency, which makes inventory management and distribution activities challenging. Furthermore, food need is much higher than food supply, which implies policies for food allocation among charitable agencies must be fair.

The aim of this project is to develop computer-based modeling tools that characterize the NPFD operating environment. Of specific interest is characterizing the behavior of supply and demand, developing tools to visualize the operating environment, and evaluating the effectiveness of several food distribution policies given uncertainty in supply and demand. The primary summer work consists of analyzing large-scale datasets of supply and demand, developing statistical models that describe the supply and demand behavior, and developing and testing a simulation model of the operating environment.


Using Computational intelligence for Building Energy Efficiency (Dr. Nabil Nassif)

We are currently working on the development of centralized building energy solutions using computational intelligence and advanced data analysis methods. Our approach takes advantage of the large amount of data available from the building automation system (BAS) in order to model, assess, control, diagnose, and optimize the design and operation of building energy systems using twenty buildings on NCAT campus. Energy solution tools are (1) energy performance assessment tool, (2) fault detection and diagnosis, (3) total performance optimization tool, and a central plant optimization tool.

For example, the energy performance assessment tool EPAT will provide measurements and assessments of the overall system and subsystem performance. Those interactive tools built within the framework of the MATLAB GUI will improve participant’s learning by connecting the knowledge and scientific methods taught in the courses to real-life problems. Our team is developing three types of modeling: (1) forward models based on engineering principles, (2) data-driven models, and (3) new gray box models (a combination of physical and data-driven models with a self-learning capability).


Nondestructive Testing (Dr. Mannur Sundaresan)

Thermographic nondestructive evaluation is a rapid diagnostic technique used foridentifying damage in composite aircraft structures. While this technique is quite successful in quickly identifying defects, there is considerable scope for increase in resolution and accuracy through improved image processing, incorporation of various corrections, and through computational simulations.

The objective of the research is to automate this process such that a technician with minimal training will be able to reliably measure the severity of damage and assure the safety of flight structures. New developments in the last three years in our laboratory has introduced several advancements to the technique, and extended the range as well as the accuracy of thermographic NDE technique. The technique is being validated and further improvements are being introduced.

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