College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

New AerE hire wins prestigious award

BloebaumChristina Bloebaum, who will be joining the aerospace engineering department this fall, has recently received the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Award for 2012 (AIAA MDO Award).

The award was established in 1993 to recognize individuals for outstanding contributions to the development and application of techniques in multidisciplinary design optimization (MDO) within aerospace engineering.

MDO involves designing complex systems made up of inherently inter-related subsystems, such as the several different components or specialties that go into the design of an airplane like control systems, aeronautics, structures, and manufacturing. Using MDO, designers can simultaneously incorporate various disciplines to complete a design that is more refined and efficient.

Bloebaum was chosen as this year’s recipient “for her seminal MDO research contributions in method development, interactive design, and n-dimensional visualization tools; and for exceptional leadership and service to the MDO profession.”

She says the MDO field is especially important because of the benefits it brings to design processes, but that it comes with distinct challenges due to the closely related subsystems being developed.

“Designing and optimizing is tricky in these environments since a change in one subsystem creates a change in the output of another subsystem,” she explained. “Hence, new methods in MDO must be developed that take the couplings that exist into account.”

One of the approaches Bloebaum focuses on is visualization, which more efficiently and effectively facilitates the design trade-offs required in MDO. In collaboration with her former student Elliot Winer, mechanical engineering associate professor and associate director of the Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC) at ISU, she devised a visual design steering methodology. The methodology allows users to interactively control the solution process of MDO engineering tasks, so as to arrive at a better solution faster.

Much of Bloebaum’s work in MDO is utilized daily by government agencies as well as industry partners.

Nominated by Winer and recommended by former AIAA MDO Award winners along with Mike Griffin, former administrator of NASA, Bloebaum was honored by the prestigious collection of people who worked on her behalf to help make the case for her receiving this year’s award.

“I was thrilled to have been nominated and grateful to have won,” she said. “There are so many talented researchers in MDO and many who have been contributors since the beginning.”

Bloebaum will receive the award September 18, 2012, at the 12th AIAA Aviation Technology, Integration, and Operations (ATIO) Conference and 14th AIAA/ISSMO Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization Conference.