Electro-Mechanical Engineering Major Josh Gilbert shares experiences and opportunities from his undergraduate research at Penn State Altoona.
Because of my research with Jeffrey Moore, assistant professor in mechanical engineering, I had the opportunity to attend and present a technical paper at the Propulsion & Energy 2017 Forum and Joint Propulsion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, July 9-13, 2017.
On my first day, I was able to attend a young professional and student’s dinner. This was a chance for students of all levels to get together, mingle, and share research experiences. I met many interesting people from other universities, exchanged contact information, and had some great conversations.
The next morning over breakfast, Dr. Moore, some of his colleagues from University Park, and I discussed hybrid rockets with the Space Propulsion Group out of Montana. Afterward, I attended my first technical sessions. A lecture on scramjets turned out to be a topic that interested me so much that I purchased an air breathing rocket history book on the NASA project. I then attended sessions on additive manufacturing, liquid injectors, and copper combustion chambers—topics that may benefit me in future research projects at Penn State Altoona and beyond. Over the next few days, I attended several more sessions. One was on titanium propellant tanks and propulsion education at Penn State and Georgia Tech. It was fascinating to learn about what options there are at different universities in this field of study. Another session was a Moog, Inc. presentation on a 22N bipropellant thruster, which was neat to listen to because Dr. Moore and I are evaluating bipropellant injector sprays at Penn State Altoona. No matter what session or topic, I always found something new and interesting to learn.
Throughout the conference, Dr. Moore introduced to me many peers in the space and defense field, including Dr. Richard Yetter, a world-renowned combustion expert and professor at Penn State. It was exciting to talk to these professionals about what they do at their jobs and what it’s like to work as an engineer.
I was also able to attend an Exposition, where companies set up booths describing their products and services. I talked with representatives from a few different companies like Vacco Industries, United Electronic Industries, and NASA. I met Dr. Thomas Liu, a Georgia Tech research engineer, and Dr. Helmut Ciezki, from the German Aerospace Center. We had a good conversation about research and Europe. It was fun to meet and talk to people in the industry to get an idea of where I may want to go in my career.
I was nervous to present our research paper on Surge Event Mitigation, but I was able to get through it and answer questions about it. It was a great feeling and afterward, I felt very accomplished.