Walking into the turbomachinery lab on the lower level of the University of Hartford’s Dana Hall, you can feel the excitement and happiness of eight mechanical engineering students there. They have spent the last two years building a wind tunnel in the lab. Now, they are finally able to unveil it and use it to conduct research that will be useful to the aerospace industry.
“You have no idea how exciting this is,” says Mark Markiewicz ’18, who joined the project as a first-year student in the College of Engineering, Technology, and Architecture (CETA). The wind tunnel allows Mark and his teammates to study and measure key aspects of aerodynamics. They expect that their findings will make jet engines’ turbines and blades more efficient and help aerospace companies save millions of dollars. The research may also benefit power plants which rely on turbines.
The opportunity to do research using this type of equipment is typically reserved for graduate students at other universities but this team is made up of undergraduates selected by CETA mechanical engineering professor Ivana Milanovic. Milanovic made Mark, who is a sophomore, the project lead after he impressed her with his analytical and supervisory skills. Although she remains involved to provide oversight and mentorship, Professor Milanovic lets Mark and his classmates make daily decisions to ensure everything is done properly.
Gianna Sabino ’16, who was brought on to the project in the summer of 2015, learned a lot from working on the build and the research, so much so that it helped her get a job. She will start working for Pratt and Whitney in June conducting tests on wind tunnels.
“The teamwork aspect and leadership skills will definitely come in handy when I start my job,” says Gianna.