ASDL Grad Student Named Student of the Year

ASDL Grad Student Named Student of the Year
Atlanta, GA

Aerospace engineering grad student Evan Harrison has been selected as the 2016 Department of Transportation Student of the Year for the FAA Centers of Excellence.

Aerospace engineering grad student Evan Harrison has been selected as the 2016 Department of Transportation Student of the Year for the FAA Centers of Excellence.The 25-year-old Washington, GA native traveled to Washington, DC in January to formally receive the honor from the Department of Transportation. 

Harrison, a doctoral student, is one of several students working with ASDL director Dr. Dimitri Mavris and research engineer Dr. Hernando Jimenez on the Partnership to Enhance General Aviation Safety Accessibility and Sustainability (PEGASAS), FAA

Center of Excellence for General Aviation. Harrison’s project, Safety Analysis for General Aviation, aims at enhancing the safety of general aviation operations through the improved use of flight data.

“Ultimately, we want to identify unsafe states, so we can better predict problems and trends in general aviation, and formulate effective safety enhancements” said Harrison.

Harrison and his fellow researchers are comparing data collected with on-board recorders with aircraft performance models developed by the team that seek to predict aircraft behavior and response under different conditions. While commercial airplanes already record many flight parameters, and some carriers share anonymized data for safety analysis, this practice is voluntary and not widely adopted in general aviation.

Models describing the aircraft’s behavior must capture extreme conditions, common in safety-critical events, with great accuracy. These models are helping Harrison’s team to understand the energy state of aircraft at any given time, and to use energy-based metrics as a method for identifying unsafe states.

“If you look at time-stamped recordings of the aircraft’s flight – and use our models to estimate key parameters that are not recorded, like lift, drag, weight, and thrust – you can describe its performance more completely. Retrospectively, then, we can analyze when an aircraft has flown too close to the boundary of its performance envelope.”

Harrison has developed a detailed internal combustion cycle engine model that uses engine characteristics to predict the power output over a wide range of conditions. His efforts to develop, test, and validate the model against little published data available presented numerous difficulties.

“He tackled them with creativity and a sound technical foundation,” said Jimenez.

“Evan also collaborated with other graduate students working in this project to integrate, test, and validate aerodynamic and propulsion models against aircraft performance data. He even made some important refinements to his model to better use the data to infer the propulsive characteristics.”