Applying mechanical engineering to aeronautics
Aeronautical engineering is at the leading edge of the development of new high-tech applications in which aerodynamics interacts with acoustics, structures, and propulsion. Aeronautical developments are in the areas of theoretical formulations, analysis by computer simulations, design methodology, testing methods, production methods, safety and maintenance standards, materials, and products developed in the aeronautical sector. The resulting knowledge and capabilities are often used later, possibly in adapted form, in other engineering applications e.g. in wind turbine design, in the maritime sector, and the automotive sector. Aeronautics and developed technologies have inspired many generations of engineers.
The increasingly strict regulations on environmental impact, fuel consumption, emissions, and noise are a major challenge for the aeronautical sector particularly as the demand for air travel in the next decade(s) is still foreseen to increase by several percentage points per annum. In addition, the nature of the required air mobility is rapidly changing in line with urban mobility demands. This drives the development of a wide range of air transport vehicles with large aeroplanes carrying hundreds of passengers to single- or few- passenger urban mobility vehicles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for many different purposes. Each vehicle requires optimisation for functionality, efficiency, and environmental impact, with specific challenges to structural design, maintenance, propulsion, aerodynamics and flight control, (aero)acoustics, and noise minimization, which often involves cutting edge scientific knowledge translated into the new technology such as light-weight multifunctional meta-materials.
The aeronautical sector faces a major challenge to become more sustainable, e.g. in reducing CO2 emissions. At the same time, it can contribute significantly to future sustainability. For example, it has provided the basis of today's global communication, information, and GPS/navigation technology which allows detailed earth observation data nowadays to be available. This data has yielded essential information in case of natural disasters aiding relief missions, as well as a wealth of information on developments in the atmospheric conditions, e.g. multiyear insight in the distribution and changes in greenhouse gases, detailed and stunning insight in the magnitude of processes of desertification, deforestation, and glacier retreat, and other climate change-related phenomena. This information has significantly contributed to the awareness of the need for urgent global collaborative agreements of mitigation, such as the 2015 Paris Agreement. Aeronautical technologies will also be indispensable in the future for earth observation solutions, and can in many ways contribute to the UN sustainable development goals.
The Aeronautics specialisation at UT aims to educate versatile mechanical engineers, well-equipped to contribute to new fundamental knowledge of aerodynamics. Aspects of the specialisation are:
- new (fundamental) knowledge of aerodynamics and materials processing,
- the optimization of aircraft designs,
- the design and operation of vehicles for Urban Air Mobility and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV's) for different purposes
- the advancement of Wind Turbine Technology,
- the introduction of new technologies for production, energy storage or energy harvesting, electric propulsion, the design of multifunctional materials combining structural integrity and noise control, and in-flight monitoring.
The key point of the specialisation is that it is embedded in a mechanical engineering environment with internationally recognised specialists in a wide range of relevant disciplines. The specialisation offers a challenging course program addressing physics and engineering fundamentals as well as up to date applied and interdisciplinary fields and developments at the frontiers of existing knowledge and technology.
The specialisation offers the possibility to complete an internship at a wide range of companies and institutes in the aeronautical and wind turbine sector. MSc assignments can be done in the research groups and departments related to:
- (Computational) fluid dynamics;
- Experimental aerodynamics/aero-acoustics;
- Thermal engineering;
- Structural dynamics and control;
- Composite materials;
- Maintenance engineering;
- Production and management.
The assignments can be done internally at the University of Twente, with access to the excellent experimental and computational facilities of the faculty, as well as externally at institutional and industrial partners through our excellent national and international network of collaborations. Examples include:
- Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) and similar institutes abroad;
- Industrial partners involved in the component or structural design;
- Full aircraft manufacturers (OEM).
For a select number of students, the specialisation also offers the possibility of a double degree in Mechanical Engineering and Aeronautical Engineering with the renowned Brazilian Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA).
Examples of MSc. assignments
- Mascara, M., Influence of Vortex Generators on Integral Boundary Layer Quantities in Adverse Pressure Gradient. MSc. Thesis, University of Twente, 2020.
- Alimenti, D., 2D Inverse Aerodynamic Design with Free Form Deformation. MSc. Thesis, University of Twente, 2020.
- De Valk, Y., A Novel Construction of Wind Tunnel Models for Wind Energy Applications. MSc. Thesis, University of Twente, 2019.
- Zanon, A., Quantifying the performance of boundary layer ingestion propulsion using the power balance method. MSc. Thesis, Royal Netherlands Aerospace Center/University of Twente, 2019
- Kiel, A., Secondary Air Intake Design Optimization for the More Electric Aircraft. MSc thesis, Royal Netherlands Aerospace Center/University of Twente, 2019.
- Dos Santos, F., Influence of tripping devices in hastening transition in a flat plate submitted to zero and favourable pressure gradients. MSc. Thesis, University of Twente, 2019.
- Ten Thije, J., Validation of a Semi-empirical Dual Stream Inverted velocity profile Jet Noise Prediction model, MSc. Thesis, Jens Ten Thije, Royal Netherlands Aerospace Center/University of Twente, 2019.
- Landriscina, G., Quantitative measurement of the large-scale turbulence in a boundary layer using a MEMS microphone array, MSc. Thesis, TNO/University of Twente, 2019.
- Van Gool, B., Aeroacoustics of a Swept Airfoil, MSc. Thesis, University of Twente
The specialisation prepares students for a career in industry and institutes, as well as to specialise in a specific area preparing for a PhD degree in applied physics or engineering, preparing for a career in one of the aeronautical institutes or at universities.