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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Engineering teacher is named U.S. Air Force Summer Faculty Fellow

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Betty Vawter
Senior Editor, News & Information Services
Dr. Natasha Smith, University of Southern Indiana assistant professor of engineering, has been selected as a Summer Faculty Fellow at the U.S. Air Force Research Lab in Dayton, Ohio.

The lab is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. During the eight-week program, Smith will work with Dr. Jose A. Camberos, assistant to the chief scientists for the Air Vehicles Directorate, and Dr. John Benek, director of the Computational Sciences Center. Her research will be on uncertainty quantification for multidisciplinary analysis and design. She is one of 100 fellows chosen from a field of 253 applicants.

Administered by the American Society for Engineering Education, the U.S. Air Force Summer Faculty Fellowship Program offers hands-on exposure to Air Force research challenges for full-time science and engineering faculty at universities in the United States. Objectives include stimulating professional relationships with participants and scientists at Air Force research facilities, elevating awareness in the academic community of Air Force research interests, and providing participants opportunities to perform high-quality and meaningful research at Air Force facilities.

"As aerospace systems evolve, there exists a heightened priority for improvement in system performance, cost effectiveness, reliability, and safety," Smith said. "These systems can be complex, and so design is typically decomposed along disciplines (e.g., structural analysis, aerodynamics, controls, engine design, etc.). To complete system design, coordination or re-integration of the individual disciplinary efforts is required. Within this process, analysis tools are needed to incorporate various types of uncertainties and to assess reliability of the system as a whole. My research will look at developing, refining, and/or applying these tools to facilitate safe and reliable designs."

Smith will use the summer experience to benefit engineering students at USI. She wants to involve students in reliability-design research through independent study, early undergraduate research, and capstone design projects.

Smith joined the University last fall. She previously taught mechanical engineering, material science, and thermodynamics at the U.S. Naval Academy. She earned a doctorate in civil engineering at Vanderbilt University.

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