Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. Student Receives NDSEG Fellowship Award

Ph.D. student Sean Dungan

Department of Aerospace Engineering Ph.D. student Sean Dungan received a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG) award. The highly competitive NDSEG fellowships help promote science and engineering education by providing three-years of support to promising U.S. scientists to pursue doctoral degrees in designated research disciplines.  

Originally from Middletown, Rhode Island, Dungan completed his undergraduate studies in aerospace engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology, and it was there that his fascination with fluid mechanics and high-speed aerospace vehicles took hold.

From there, he received the opportunity to come to the University of Maryland and work with aerospace engineering faculty member Christoph Brehm.

“Working in Dr. Brehm's group, I focused my efforts on numerically investigating the complex, multi-physics problem of fluid-ablation interactions in high-speed boundary layer flows,” explained Dungan. “The results of these investigations aim to improve the fundamental understanding of boundary layer transition to turbulence in the presence of an ablative heat shield.”

Dungan’s NDSEG Fellowship will help support his research in this field, and in particular, his development of new computational methods for accurately and efficiently predicting boundary layer transition onset. Such capabilities are critical in developing sustained hypersonic flight where skin-friction drag and aerodynamic heating increase significantly as a result of the flow becoming turbulent over the vehicle's external surface.

Dungan hopes that his new computational approach skips the costly temporal transient portion of the calculation and strike the correct balance between simulation fidelity and turnaround time so that designers can use it to improve the design process currently used for hypersonic vehicles.

“Securing the NDSEG fellowship not only affords me greater freedom in the approach to solving this problem, but it will also help me gain important external perspectives via the fellowship's industry mentorship program,” said Dungan on receiving the award. “Such mentorship will help ensure the research is best suited to help meet the demands of the next generation in high-speed aerospace vehicles.”


Published April 10, 2023