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First-year U-M Aerospace Engineering PhD candidate, Alasdair Gray, Awarded the prestigious Jefferson Goblet Award

Alasdair Gray was awarded the Jefferson Goblet Best Student Paper Award from the 2021 AIAA SciTech Conference for his paper discussing aerostructural optimization models in the computational framework MACH| Short Read

Alasdair Gray, a first-year PhD student in the University of Michigan Department of Aerospace Engineering, received the 2021 AIAA Jefferson Goblet Award for his research paper, “Geometrically Nonlinear High-fidelity Aerostructural Optimization for Highly Flexible Wings.” Created in honor of Thomas Jefferson, the Jefferson Goblet Award is the highest-ranked Aerospace Design and Structures paper award administered by the AIAA. Alasdair’s paper focused on expanding the capabilities of MACH, a computational framework developed in Professor Joaquim Martins’ MDO Lab where Alasdair conducts his research.

IMAGE:  Portrait of Alasdair Gray

This paper is the first to perform aerostructural optimization with high-fidelity geometrically nonlinear models and to compare how these more accurate models affect the resulting optimal wing designs. MACH’s combination of very efficient Computation Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and Finite Element (FE) structural solvers enables simultaneous optimization of the aerodynamic and structural design of aircraft. In Alasdair’s paper, he discussed ways to expand MACH to work with geometrically nonlinear models which will help design lightweight wings that flex more in flight. Not only do these developments result in more accurately optimized wings, Alasdair also found that these results can be achieved with only a 20% increase in computational cost, much lower than previously expected. 

Alasdair Gray is in his first-year of his PhD program in U-M Aerospace Engineering. His research under the advisorship of Professor Martins in the MDO Lab focuses on high-fidelity methods for aerostructural optimization. He received an MSc in Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft in the Netherlands and an MEng in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Edinburgh.

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